Juggling work and life doesn’t have to be difficult… not if organizations provide REAL flexible working opportunities.
By Laura Handley, Business Development Lead, RedWizard
Structured-flexibility… an oxymoron?
I often see flexible working jobs advertised but on closer inspection, find they’re too structured. What’s usually on offer is… one or two specific days at home per week, or an agreed (late) start time. Sounds a bit like structured-flexibility to me!
Surely anything that has a rigid structure isn’t flexible?
We live in a world of constant and relentless change. It’s time for organizations to start trusting their people and offering real flexible working opportunities—based on individual needs, not box-ticking and taking a one size fits all approach.
We need roles that offer a life-work balance, allowing freedom and change when required. This means letting people work where, when, why and how they want, operating on trust and focusing on what’s really important—people.
Current trends in business and technology show that the way employees work—where, when, why and with whom—will change completely over the next decade and bear little resemblance to work as we understand it today.
One group that knows what a juggling act life can be, are working mums. Mum-life can be very stressful. I should know, I’m living it! Trying to stay fit, dress well, stimulate little brains, keep the house clean, cook healthy food, and have adult relationships… add paid work into the mix, well let’s just say, it’s extremely challenging.
Most mums work at least part-time, often giving up or suspending their flourishing careers for the sake of the family because, let’s face it, family comes first!
Let’s face it, family comes first!
Being there for my kids—those important moments—attending their school assembly, watching them perform in the school play, and other activities fills my heart with joy! Every day, I drop my kids off in front of the school, and just before entering the building they look back at me with a little smile, and wave–it melts my heart. I know they’re safe and that’s the most important thing in the world to any mum.
Taking part in the school’s charity coffee mornings, getting to know the teachers and other mums, is also something I really value.
I also love my job and being a professional business woman who produces results. It gives me a feeling of pride and independence. It allows me to contribute to the bills and means my family is well taken care of.
The REAL flexible deal
I’m very fortunate to have found a forward-thinking employer who understands that a life-work balance is crucial, not only for my own health and wellbeing but for the success of the company. My boss doesn’t worry about how and when I work, she simply trusts me. As a result, I’m happier, work harder, have a healthy life-work balance and always deliver.
My boss doesn’t worry about how and when I work, she simply trusts me.
I manage my own time, support my children and even get some ‘me’ time—going for a morning run, coffee with friends, time at the gym—all these activities keep me sane and productive. I do everything during ‘normal’ working hours. There are times when I prefer to work in the evening or over the weekend after the kids are in bed. If I wasn’t working in the evening, I’d probably binge watch Netflix anyway! It’s just lifechanging to finally have control over when, where, and how I work.
Life is for living, we should work to live, not live to work!
Technology is continuing to change the working landscape. It’s time to demand real flexible working that makes sense for 21st-century living. There will always be customer facing roles that require people to work on site but there are many roles where being onsite just isn’t necessary anymore.
Let’s prove it’s possible to work flexibly and demand a life-work balance that’s catered to individual needs. It’s not a corporate box-ticking exercise, it’s real life!
Do you want to work flexibly?
Start the process where you work…
- Ask your employer about flexible working… they have to consider your request by law. Think carefully about how it will benefit you, and the organization. Once you’ve a solid case, arrange a meeting to discuss the details.
- Prove it—suggest a trial period. This will give you an opportunity to demonstrate how you can successfully work outside the office.
- When working from home, make sure your home environment is adequate. A strong internet connection is a must, as is an appropriate work station and separate work room if possible.
- Plan your day well, prioritize and find a quiet space as you don’t want to be distracted.
- Be realistic about your expectations.
Home-working… is it right for you?
A big part of flexible working usually involves working from home. This can be a blessing or a slippery slope towards loneliness and depression. When it works, it’s great. I have a 30-second commute, feel connected to the team through technology, can work in my slippers, and still support my family!
Here at RedWizard, we’re all home-workers and love it!
But… it’s not for everyone.
My next article, Home-working: Is it right for you? focuses on the reality of home-working and how to know if it’s right for you.