When we say ‘flexible working’ what exactly does that mean to you? Is it working part-time; or shorter hours; or from another location; or having adjusted start and finish times? Is it having the flexibility to leave work early so you can pick up the kids from school and then work from home in the evening? Or being able to spend some of the working week focusing on an area your passionate about, whether that be volunteering or an active sport? The saying ‘One shoe doesn’t fit all’ comes to mind when thinking how we apply flexible working opportunities to people.
Companies are becoming more open-minded to the world of flexible working arrangements and I believe this should be on offer as an option in order to attract and retain the best talent. Not only are more parents returning to the workplace but we are a diverse workforce, we travel greater distances for work, and improvements in technology provides greater options for flexible working. Thinking strategically, providing flexibility in the workplace can help boost employee satisfaction and support them to reach their full potential, leading to better output for companies.
I’ve worked flexibly since returning to work after the birth of my eldest. The flexibility allows me to work one day from home and three days in the office. Is it easy? Not as easy as some would lead you to believe. But nor do I think working in the office four or five days a week would be easy. At the beginning I struggled with the ‘working mum guilt’, and while it still rears its head, I manage both worlds better.
I don’t get to stay late in the office to finish answering emails or finalise a presentation deck or report as I do after-school care pick up. I don’t attend meetings after a certain time because I’ve got to be on public transport and arrive before after-school care closes. I miss out on some meetings if they are scheduled on my non-work day (my bad luck, I know). I also don’t (EVER) lounge around on my work-from-home day in my pj’s trying to get my laundry done.
What I do manage to do is produce five days quality work in four days. I do work again from home in the evenings once the kids are in bed so I get to tick items off my list. I drop my youngest to day care very early on the days I’m in the office so I can go to the gym (my sanity saviour). On occasion I work on my non-work day if something important comes up (I like my work!). Depending on how the week is going my flexible working either runs smoothly or goes to pot.
Does your work require you to work flexibly?
Does it work for you?