Flexibility at RVA

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The rules are changing.

A new world of work is emerging, and along with it has come a once-in-a-generation opportunity for better, newly imagined employee experiences. Terms like ‘flexibility’ and ‘work-life harmony’ aren’t just buzzwords; they’re now table stakes.

At RVA, we not only love the actual design work we do, but we love designing the experience of working here. So, to kick off our summer-long #RVAFlex campaign, we sat down with none other than Shawn Scott, our President and CEO, to talk about how a culture of flexibility has allowed RVA to innovate how we operate as a firm and a team. And though our company has evolved over the years, our core values have not, and they continue to guide us in creating a culture that is magnetic and attractive, driven by passion and high performance.

In professional consulting firms like RVA, the business of engineering is only one aspect of how we operate. Throughout my career here, I’ve seen that our ambition as a firm is based on a common drive to innovate, and a shared belief that creating a work environment that is flexible, humane, and inclusive allows our people to perform at their highest level.

It goes without saying that the past few years have been tumultuous. Companies around the world are navigating uncharted waters, and people have had to adapt in ways they never expected. But our experience in weathering change has reinforced our belief that, if we expect our people to perform at their best, it stands to reason that they should be recognized with a supportive culture and a safety net that supports them in the ways they need the most.

Through numerous discussions, working sessions, research studies, and just plain listening and observation, we’ve affirmed that professional happiness tends to occur when someone is achieving outstanding results together. People work because they want to contribute – and create – something greater than themselves.

We’re not afraid to adapt when things are no longer working at their best.

As engineering professionals, we’re used to going back to the drawing board. So, when we outgrow a system, we improve it. We’ve introduced new, sustaining elements for our employees – such as an expanded professional development program and a Disconnecting from Work policy – that enables people the freedom to confidently develop their unique workstyle. We’ve taken the values we cherish and rolled them into a strategic plan that allows us to streamline roles and responsibilities, set clear and transparent goals, build easy pathways for collaboration, and chart a forward-looking path for ongoing improvement – all while affirming the tenets upon which RVA was founded.

One strength of our flexible approach is its simplicity. None of its principles are outlandish or difficult to understand. Rather, our culture of flexibility is based on a sense of common-sense practices that our research has connected with healthy workplaces and superior performance. Consequently, everyone is encouraged to explore their interests and strengths; to ask for help from their team when they need it; and to contribute to all project phases to become well-rounded professionals, whether it’s budgeting, invoicing, project management, design, or client relations.

Because employee engagement is a clear predictor of business performance, moving towards flexibility doesn’t mean compromising on client service, development opportunities, team culture, or long-term stability. Creativity and ownership go hand-in-hand, and offering people the ability to flex and shape their work allows them to find more innovative ways to achieve these goals. That’s why flexible work arrangements aren’t just “perks” – they’re competitive advantages that can spark new ways of thinking and working.

We live by example.

We expect our people to challenge the limits of what tight-knit teams can do, and to always push themselves to be better professionals. But along with that sort of drive comes an acknowledgement that our work can be intense. There are projects that lead to long, even sometimes uncommon, working hours. But we also recognize the importance of living what you preach. We don’t expect you to be a superhuman who can put in 80 hours every week. We strive to set the example of taking a break when you need one, whether it’s taking a vacation, signing off early on Fridays to go camping with your family, or taking a few minutes before a meeting to help your kids get into their online classrooms.

We know you have a real life.

By normalizing the ups and downs of our daily lives, we can help each other “work to live, not live to work.” We advocate for work-life harmony because we know balance can sometimes still be a zero-sum game. We give people the choice to bring as much or as little of their lives outside of work to the table, whether that means working hybrid or remote, moving from one office to another, choosing a 4- or 5-day week during the summer, or transitioning to a new project or role.

We offer flexible working hours because it allows people to take care of themselves and their families when they need to. We don’t believe in regimenting work days because you know what works best for yourself. Whatever you choose, everyone is encouraged to take vacation, sick and personal days, and bereavement time, no strings attached.

Above all else, we believe in our values.

Our legacy has proven that we are a firm that adversity has made stronger, and I’m confident that our team will stay ahead of the curve as the concept of ‘work’ continues to evolve. Whatever the next wave of change may bring, we have proven that our values are ones worth holding onto, like building a team of truly dedicated, talented people who push the boundaries of innovation and design; rewarding their dedication with a supportive workplace and a dependable safety net; and fostering a nurturing culture for a diverse group of people from all walks of life. Flexibility is just another way we can empower our people, who give so much to RVA, to make choices that are right for their clients, their teams, and themselves, so we can stay at our best regardless of where, when, or how we work.

That’s why, at RVA, creating an innovative, humane, and flexible work culture will always be more than just a job – it’s our collective responsibility.

This post is part of a social media series on Flexible Work Arrangements, which features firsthand accounts from RVA’ers on how our culture of flexibility has empowered them to work better, live healthier, and perform stronger. If you’re interested in learning more about RVA’s firm culture, make sure to follow #RVAFlex on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

We think we’ve built a pretty special place to be and to work, and we’re always on the lookout for people to join our driven and dynamic team. If what we do excites you, we encourage you to explore our open positions on our Careers page!