So we are a few years into the right to request flexible working but how many companies authorise or embrace such a request?
Time and time again am I approached by fellow mothers and asked how they can create more balance in their working lives, I am told about inflexible employers, rigid structures and requests ultimately being turned down.
Now in this day and age, it is pertinent that we have access to the best technology that can allow us to work, well from anywhere. So what is the problem with flexible working?
I remember when my son was younger I was working a whole host more than my 4 day week, and delivering a whole host more than some of my colleagues working a 5 day week.
A working mother usually has put in a 3 hour shift before even walking through the office door. They have usually battled cornflake wars with a toddler, the dreaded school run, the pain of leaving an 18 month old screaming at a nursery and not to mention ensuring PE kits, homework, school uniform and all extra-curricular activities are arranged and sorted.
So why do we want our pound of flesh in the workplace as well? Is there equality in the workplace? Given that statistics still show that women in leadership roles still get paid less than their male counterparts.
So, what can flexibility to working mums give to our businesses?
- Increased productivity – yes that’s increased, moving hours around to allow mums to do the school drop offs – improves their mental well-being and hence in return, you will gain hours of work at home, weekend work and total loyalty.
- Avoid burning out – believe it or not, it is unlikely that working mums ever get a day off, lack of sleep and managing a home all this takes its toll, so once it gets too much it is the usually the job that has to go!
- Increased morale in the work place, more loyalty, and commitment
But we can’t offer flexible working because…..
Our systems don’t support it – Ok, you have an in-house system that cannot be accessed at home, or you don’t want to allow it (probably the real reason) Have you thought about offering a shift in work times to accommodate this? Or alternative tasks that can be completed at home?
It’s not fair on other employees – What a load of rubbish – by allowing this, your other employees are more likely to stay and respect the business more.
This can work for dads too….as long as everyone completes their roles, flexible working really should be there for everyone to enjoy, so Dad can get to sports day too!
Culture has changed, technology has changed, how many of us check work communication on an evening? 9-5 is no more, given that we are all accessible 24/7 – let’s embrace the changes, allow our team to enjoy parenthood and create succession through ability to work, not the ability to stay in the office until 7pm each night.
Let’s work smarter, we all have the same 24 hours, and before long, kids will become teenagers and those working mums that you denied flexibility are busy being business leaders for your competitors.