#RVAFlex with Fatema Khalfan

Working mothers continue to marvel us. How they manage to balance and maintain their focus between career, caregiving, and themselves is incredibly inspiring. That’s why we do our best to empower and support these moms to do what they need to maintain that balance and power through.

Our #RVAFlex feature this week is dedicated to working mothers everywhere. In this interview, Fatema Khalfan, Project Manager and a proud mother to two boys, talks about how RVA’s culture of flexibility has enabled her to customize her career with a variety of options and working arrangements to design a work life that suits her and her family, in ways they need it the most. Working motherhood is a reality and has been for many years, and extending that flexibility is our way of championing mothers in their heroic efforts of balancing career and caregiving.

  1. What does a flexible working culture mean to you?

As my mentor likes to say: “Give your best hours to the company.” How we determine our “best” hours can be different from person to person – for example, if you’re more productive in the morning or the evening – and it can be based on whatever life throws at you – when the kids get home, when they need to picked up or dropped off. But whether you’re working on a project, proposal, a flexible working culture allows us to decide when our best hours will be (within reason of course), so we can give our best and be at our best for the people who depend on us, our clients and teams. There’s no hard and fast rule that it has to be “this time on this day.” Because at the end of the day, we’re not robots, we’re human beings, and we will only be able to do the best we can if we are allowed to function as human beings.

  1. What is your favourite thing about RVA’s culture of flexibility?

My favourite thing is how flexible RVA is with its flexible working arrangements! Our flexible working culture is not just one that works for me, or a specific person or demographic. It accommodates a wide variety of people, arrangements, and needs. It’s very smart as it allows us as a company to maximize the benefits of flexible working, and to perform at our best across the firm.

An example of how flexible RVA is with its culture of flexibility is when things began opening up again, RVA did a survey that gave employees different options on how they wish to work: in office, work from home, and hybrid. However, instead of choosing the option that most employees favoured, they decided to offer all three.

The Summer 4-Day Week is also a huge bonus, because I tend to do most of my hours earlier in the week, so now that I have colleagues that are also off later in the week with the summer long weekends, we are all on the same page.

  1. How has flexibility helped you develop your unique workstyle?

I’m the kind of person that, when I wake up in the morning, my head is filled with ideas. That is the time when I feel super motivated, creative, and productive. If there was a problem or a strategy question from the day before, all those answers come to me in the morning, and I’m able to do that ‘brain dump’ and draft emails before the kids are up. Without flexibility, by the time I’ve dropped off the kids, done the long commute to the office, and get my laptop set up, I’d need another cup of coffee – and that is only if I remember all the ideas I had! Flexibility allows me to be myself: the most productive version of myself.

  1. How has your team adapted flexible working in a way that works for everyone?

With the flexibility of choice and a fast-paced environment, initially there were questions as to how it would work for everybody. But what has helped us make it a positive experience for everyone is to be proactive with our clients, and with each other. We communicate everything we can to our clients as early as possible, so if something requires more attention, we can address it right away, and we have more time to deal with what would’ve been a last-minute emergency. My team also schedules our meetings early on in the week so we can all get quiet focus time to get our work done later on. And overall, as a team, we’re more organized and better prepared, because accommodating for each other is always in the back of our head: if someone is not available after this date, for example, we will plan to get everything done a day or two before. In that way, we’re always focused and ahead of the game, which comes in handy especially when projects or proposals are due.

  1. What are some unique opportunities, inside or outside of work, that flexible working has enabled you to discover and explore?

I wish I could say that I have discovered a fancy hobby with flexible working, but the simple truth is that it has allowed me to be a good mom. I’m able to provide for myself and my family in a more peaceful and content manner. I’m able to give quality time to my kids without being mentally exhausted. I am also able to take morning walks on the weekdays that I am not working either on my own or with my friends. This allows me to connect with nature and myself or form and maintain a stronger bond with my friends. It’s nothing fancy, but it makes a huge difference in our lives.

Here at RVA, we aim to make a better world for people – in all our projects, and the locations we work in. The difference I’m making by being there for my kids is having an impact on the future of this Earth. Looking at it that way, flexible working almost becomes mandatory. Of course, we all need to earn a living to survive, to live a good life, and to provide for our families, but in some ways, time is so much more valuable.

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!