There will no doubt be many FFS moments, muttered under breath, this summer holidays. Fortunately for me, and the flexible approach to work I’ve been able to adopt, childcare headaches won’t be causing any of them.
Having been made redundant from my old career in a corporate healthcare business, I’ve just kind of muddled along, and into a way of flexible working that I’d never have dreamt was possible. In my old work, there were three options: work full time, work part time (normal days and no less than three) or don’t work here.
I often pondered what I’d do when my kids reached school age, and there would be pick up and drop offs, half terms and summer holidays, baker days and sick days. With extended family being tied up with their own commitments, how on earth would we manage? Filed under ‘W’ for ‘Worry about when it happens’, we took each day as it came, and hoped things would fall into place, which in a way they did.
The lack of flexibility is definitely a driver for not returning to my career as I knew it. Having spent some time at home with my young children, I didn’t and don’t want to miss out on so much of my young family. I remember when I was pregnant, a mentor asking me whether I’d choose career or family, and I boldly, and without hesitation, replied “both”. But in all honesty, then and now, it just isn’t as easy as that in this present point in time; not in that career that I spent so many years working in.
Currently, flexible working requests which must be ‘reasonably considered’ by management are still perceived to be somewhat shady. Whilst the business considers if it might have a negative impact towards the business, there is a gaping hole in the system, which is an acknowledgement of the benefits it might bring.
With so many women, mothers (and fathers too in some cases), feeling torn to make a decision between family or career, many are forced out of the roles they have fought hard to achieve as they are unable to turn their backs on their children’s needs at home, or justify the extortionate childcare costs which make the whole exercise counter productive.
By allowing the use of technology, remote working and working from home has never been easier. In many cases, the traditional 9 to 5 hours bear no relevance as tasks and objectives can be carried out at any time of day – be it during the 2.5 hours your kids are at the local pre-school each morning, at weekends, or even in the evenings. As I have discovered, provided you’re committed, that hard work ethic goes along way in making sure you deliver on time, and at the same high standards you have always set.
By taking a fresh look at where and when we can work, we could re-inject the value of hundreds, thousands of women back into British industry, whilst letting them remain the parent they choose to be.
It’s time therefore to ask government, businesses and managers to re-shape the perceptions towards flexible working requests, in order for them to be taken seriously and positively. By allowing a new way of working businesses can gain loyal, driven employees, willing to pull out all the stops to make the arrangement work for everyone, because they have the best incentive in the world to do so.
Digital Mums are campaigning for a better approach towards flexible working in the U. K. As a follow on from their #WorkThatWorks campaign, they are asking that for all of us, it’s time to #CleanUpTheFWord.
- 7 in 10 UK employees (and 8 in 10 millennials) would like to have flexible working hours but only 12% have asked for it
- Over half (51%) of UK employees think asking for flexible working hours would be viewed negatively by their employer
- This fear factor is most significant amongst millennials, with two-fifths (40%) saying they’d be too nervous or worried to ask for flexible working hours
- Despite 68% of UK employees still not having access to flexible working, 6 in 10 (61%) UK workers said they would be more productive if they could work flexibly
- Over two thirds (67%) said they would be more loyal to a business.
- Significantly, 75% of 18-24 year olds not working are more likely to apply for a job with flexible hours over a standard job
To kick-start this societal shift, they’re calling on everyone to sign their‘#CleanUpTheFWord’ petition here to change the Government’s current definition of flexible working from something that focuses solely on ‘a way of working that suits an employee’s needs’ to ‘work that works for employees and businesses’.
You can watch the Digital Mums campaign video here.