How Mary met Allison: The benefits of dynamic working
Throughout Allison Reid's childhood in Fife, Scotland, the garden gate was always open so that their dogs could run between their house and that of her next-door neighbour, Mary. In January, when she decided to move back home after a decade away, it was those same dogs that reconnected her to the now 92-year-old woman who had watched her grow up.
“I've got a German Shepherd and she and her husband used to have a German Shepherd when they were younger," explains Reid. “My dog's always going into their house to keep them company, and then we just rekindled our relationship from there."
Reid was able to move home thanks to her new job as a bid writer with Leidos, which allows her to work remotely. When she returned, she found that lockdown had been difficult for Mary whom she remembers as an active and independent woman, always working in the garden or driving out for day trips with her mother.
“The community group that used to take her out for activities and things stopped operating and she couldn't get down the stairs out of the house by herself," Reid explains. "She'd just been stuck staring at the same four walls for a year and a half."
Over regular cups of tea in the garden, during Reid's breaks from work, Mary opened up about her struggles. Reid quickly realised how easy it would be to help out. Thanks to Leidos' dynamic working policy, Reid can choose to finish work early on a Friday and take her neighbour out on trips into town. Mary's husband could then go out to his regular Friday afternoon golf session without worrying about leaving her on her own.
“She'd mentioned that she hadn't had her hair cut in years, so I organized to take her to a fancy hair salon in town where they treated her like a queen," Reid says. “And every few weeks we'll go to a garden centre to pick up some plants for her garden and have a cup of tea in the café."
Beyond their regular trips, dynamic working means that Reid can pop out to take her neighbours to occasional appointments or help with any emergencies.
“I leave the door open so her husband can pop round anytime," Reid says. “I've taken him to get his COVID booster jab and helped them pick up a second-hand wheelchair. As long as it doesn't interfere with the project I'm working on, the flexibility of dynamic working at Leidos means that I can essentially be there whenever they need me."
The company and support to leave the house have transformed Reid's neighbour's quality of life but Reid is clear that the friendship is mutually beneficial.
“I love that if I need a break from the screen, I can go sit on the bench outside in her garden and she'll come out and have a cup of tea with me and talk about all her memories," Reid says. “My neighbour has never used the Internet and she has just a completely different perspective that is absolutely refreshing."
Despite the 60-year age gap between Mary and herself, Reid believes that it's precisely the intergenerational nature of their friendship that makes it so valuable.
“I've always loved listening to my grandparents' stories and I moved here to be closer to them," she says. “I think dynamic working is absolutely priceless because it allows me to work later so that I can have a couple of hours in the middle of the day to spend that time with someone―and I think we've all realised over the past few years just how precious that time with people is."