Giving your staff autonomy benefits your business

Flexible working gave Rachel Harkness the freedom to follow her passion and led to a whole new way of supporting customers for Cliniko.

Aisling Smith·

Video content producer Rachel talks about how working for Cliniko has impacted her life.

Your staff undoubtedly have some weird and wonderful talents – things they’re passionate about and do well. Things you might not even know about! The story of Rachel (our in-house videographer at Cliniko) is a prime example of how giving your employees the freedom to let their talents shine in the workplace can also be good for your business.

If you’ve ever watched a Cliniko help video, you’ll know Rachel. With her characteristic warm smile and friendly manner, she demonstrates our latest updates in the Cliniko this week series on YouTube and uploads regular tip videos on how to get the most out of the software. These videos have become such an iconic part of Cliniko, it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t have them! But they were actually Rachel’s brainchild, rather than something we’d always planned – and they came about because of our flexible way of working.

Rachel joined the Cliniko team in 2015 as part of our customer support team (supps, as we call them internally). Performing has always been Rachel’s passion and, while she considered going into film and TV when she was younger, she ended up working as a communication specialist for a US university for many years. It was only when she came to Cliniko that she found a way to integrate her love of performance into her job. As a visual learner, Rachel soon recognised the need for different ways of providing customer support. “Instead of typing out hundreds of steps to solve an issue, how could I share a solution in a more manageable – and hopefully more exciting – way?” she recalls asking herself. In mid 2017, she approached our founder Joel with a proposition: what if she made videos, too?

Rachel didn’t have any formal production training or fancy equipment on hand, but at Cliniko, enthusiasm always trumps experience. “I was shocked,” Rachel admits. “I was immediately met with support, instead of the criticism or hesitation that I was internally expecting.” Cliniko provided the equipment she needed to get started and the rest Rachel taught herself along the way. “While having the equipment gave me the head-start I needed, it was the trust and support in something I was truly passionate about that gave me the ability to shine in those videos.” Rachel now spends the majority of her time on video production: writing the scripts, screen capturing, recording, editing, and producing.

Making videos is something Rachel enjoys, but Cliniko also benefits from her enthusiasm and expertise. These videos added an extra level of support for our customers and continue to be extremely popular – some of Rachel’s tutorials have had up to 10,000 views on YouTube! Allowing Rachel to bring her love for performing into her worklife led to something unique for Cliniko.

This is the true meaning of flexible work and the hidden benefit that no one talks about. Genuine flexibility doesn’t just mean letting people work non-traditional hours; it means giving your employees the freedom to identify and pursue what’s important to them. Why wouldn’t you want your staff to be bringing the full range of their creativity into the workplace? That’s ultimately the way you’ll find new and inspired ways of doing things in your business.

Another advantage of flexible working is increased time. For Rachel, this means more hours with her husband Jack. After commuting an eye-watering four hours a day for her previous job (yes, you read that right!), Cliniko’s flexible work culture was a welcome relief: no set hours, unlimited paid leave, and entirely remote working. For the first time in her career, Rachel could work when and how she wanted. “Just by being able to work from home, I knew I could add 20 hours a week to my life,” Rachel reflects. “That completely transformed my day-to-day.” She and Jack can now spend time together, doing the things they love — watching foreign horror and Japanese anime, playing video games, singing along to broadway shows on repeat (Six and Hadestown are the current faves!), and hanging out with their beautiful dog Peach.

Having more quality time to enjoy her life outside work has, in turn, made Rachel more content – and productive – in her job. She recalls previous workplaces where she’d have to come to work, even when she wasn’t feeling well: “Before working at Cliniko, I honestly dreaded sitting at a desk. At previous jobs, it was common to only have a certain amount of vacation time and paid sick leave, and those hours had to be earned first. This quickly created a cycle where I would go to work sick or when I was mentally at my lowest point because ‘I couldn’t afford to take a day off’ or ‘I haven’t earned it yet.’ Over time, both the quality of my work and my life decreased.”

But, at Cliniko, when Rachel is at work, she can concentrate fully on what she’s doing. “I come back to work more fulfilled, happier, less stressed,” she says. “I’m not wondering about those what-ifs. What if I took that vacation? What if I could spend 30 more minutes with my husband over breakfast? There’s a sense of pride when I go into work and knowing that I can take the time to focus on life when I need allows me to be more present at my job. Now when I sit down at the desk, the skies are finally clear and there’s no more dread! I’m no longer in a mental fog or have this looming cloud over my head that screams, “if I don’t produce something that day, I’m worth nothing.” This mental space is healthier for Rachel, but it’s in Cliniko’s interest too – we want our creative and talented employees to be at their very best and producing work of high quality.

It also helps that partners and families are integrated into Cliniko staff social events. Every couple of years (pre-pandemic), our employees and their loved ones were invited to attend a big get-together. The company covered everything for all attendees – flights, accommodation, and food. Jack was even able to travel outside America for the first time to accompany Rachel to Cliniko meetups in Canada and Australia. The team also caught up in Greece in 2015, which is a treasured memory for many of our staff. Including your employees’ families in work events makes them feel more connected to your business and, in the long run, is one of the ways you can make talented people want to stick around.

These gatherings mean a lot to everyone at Cliniko and have brought the team close together – despite the fact that we’re spread all around the world, there’s a genuine sense of community within the Cliniko workplace. As Rachel says, “by getting together, we’re more connected in ways that extend way beyond the usual co-worker relationship.”

For Rachel, the meaning of work-life balance depends on who you are. “For me, it’s meant becoming closer to my family. It’s made me a stronger person and a stronger worker.” We think that’s a good thing for everyone.

Rachel with her dog Peach and husband Jack

Author information

Aisling is a Melbourne-based writer and all around word nerd. When she isn't writing for Cliniko, she likes circus fitness, playing her cello, and eating dessert.

Never miss an update! Sign up for monthly Cliniko news and tips.

Read Cliniko’s Terms and Privacy policy

Keep reading