Part-time, flexi-time, your time - the way we work is about to change for the better
By Rachel Mostyn
Flexible working, the career blend, work/ life balance, whatever you call it, its finally coming. The rigid 9-5 slog, a tired Monday to Friday model, and inflexible bosses who make you feel like you owe them for any time you’re not spent chained to your desk – these could soon become a thing of the past thanks to a host of new initiatives aiming to rebrand the notion of flexible working for women.
A new #WorkThatWorks campaign by Digital Mums – a company that trains women as freelance social media managers as a solution to the 68% of women who are forced to drop out of the workplace after having children – has found that if businesses offered more flexible working options, the economy could be boosted by £62.5 billion a year. It echoes a similar initiative by Timewise, a company that helps businesses attract the best talent through flexible working options. Their #HireMeMyWay campaign and annual Power Part Time List aims to take the stigma out of part-time working that sees more than two thirds (67%) of high earners never referring to themselves as ‘part time’ for fear of looking uncommitted.
All of this has to change if women are to move towards parity in the workplace and not be penalised for requesting flexibility. This isn’t just about mums, either, with a Timewise study revealing that more men than ever are also working part-time in order to be more involved in childcare or have a better lifestyle balance.
To right this wrong Digital Mums has launched the #WorkThatWorks movement, calling on businesses and individuals to support flexible working.
‘With today’s technology a 9-5 desk policy is totally outdated. The “coat on the back of the chair” culture should be assigned to another era,’ says co-founder Nikki Cochrane. ‘What we need is a societal shift to embrace flexible working as the norm for everyone and not the exception.’
And the good news is that there are already some brilliant companies on board with the movement that together could make a real difference to the way we work. Meet the bosses leading the way:
‘We offer all staff members flexible working hours. We ask the team to be available for meetings between 10-4pm and then they make up the rest of their hours as they see fit, empowering them to get their workload actioned in a way that enables them to have a better work/life balance.’
Kate Thornton, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TBSeen.com
‘We don’t care when and how you do the work, just as long as it’s done. I think it’s massively important to cater to the busy lives of women. Work should fit around our lives and not the other way around.’
Sharmadean Reid MBE, Owner and Founder WAH Nails
‘Nearly three quarters of NCT staff have flexible working and are home based
and part time. People work differently according to personal or family commitments. Many of our office based team work from home one or two days a week which reduces the time and stress of commuting.’
Jill Creese, Director, Human Resources at NCT
‘We support the concept of #WorkThatWorks because life exists beyond the cubicle. People can be more productive with their time when they can focus on outputs versus hours spent in the office. Flexible working is the future.”
Kathleen Mitchell vice president EMEA, Stella & Dot
‘We need more flexibility and understanding in the workplace and a change of culture. I avoid scheduling meetings after 5pm and no one is looked down on for leaving on time. It’s important to build a trusting relationship with your team. There is just no need to scrutinise every move they make.’
Tamara Lohan Founder and CTO of Mr & Mrs Smith
‘We trust that our teams will manage their time and deliver the work that needs to be done. We wanted to forgo the idea of “presenteeism”. If people work best from a library or a coffee shop then that is fine. To get the best out of people, employers need to recognise how best people work.’
Anna Hickey, Managing Director, Maxus UK
Find out more about Digital Mums and The #WorkThatWorks Movement here