Making Flexible working work
We asked some of the team at Kinneir Dufort about what flexible working means to them and they have shared their thoughts on how and why flexible working can make such a positive difference.
Merle Hall – Managing Director
Joining KD in 2009 with a 6-month-old baby and having my second within a year, I worked part time for my first few years in the business. Whilst a balancing act, it enabled me to focus on my kids’ early years and developing my career in parallel. As things got even busier, my husband and I discussed and agreed that he would reduce his work commitments to allow me to increase mine. In my opinion, parents are amongst the most focused and productive members of our team, as they know that they need to get to school “pick up” on time or else.
On a broader level, enabling all team members to balance their life in a way that works for them is simply good, solid business practice. By offering an array of benefits such as flexibility we have a happier team, who appreciate that we consider their wellbeing central to a successful business.
Vicky Walker – Consumer Portfolio Manager
“Why do you only work part-time?”
A question I often get asked…along with feeling the need to justify my choice. The answer is straightforward. It allows me to have a positive professional impact by adding value to the business I work for AND simultaneously manage the rest of my life…3 kids, husband, house, dog and cat (I’m not going to include the goldfish he’s pretty self-sufficient!). I also attempt to fit in all that stuff we should be doing but don’t have any time for….you know, wellness, keeping friendships alive, mindfulness, exercise, sleep!
This is real life and for me, real life currently means working part-time. Since I went back to work after 3 children, I have been lucky enough to work for two fantastic businesses that put their trust and faith in me to do a job, yet not be sat in the office Monday – Friday 9-5. I firmly believe businesses being open to having flexible working arrangements for their people, attracts talent and experience, hugely motivates employees to do a great job and leads to a happy and fulfilled workforce.
Has my choice to be a part-timer compromised on my career progress and goals? Yes, probably. However, what I have decided not to forsake, is striving to make a positive difference and loving what I do. I know so many super smart, high performing women whom in order to manage the other demands on their life (kids, increasingly dependent parents, health needs) have had to take that step out of their professional world. Imagine the potential impact they could be making if they could still do what they were amazing at, instead of being fearful and apologetic for wanting to balance work and life?
For those wanting to embrace more flexible working arrangements, take the plunge, unashamedly ask and actively seek it. Have that conversation with your manager, business owners, HR. Everyone’s “real life” is different, so figure out what will work. Ensure you have a plan and a strategy in place that works beneficially both ways; you being part-time must have a positive impact for the business. Finally, don’t feel the need apologise for your life choices...they are yours and no one else’s.
Unashamedly ask, and actively seek
Melanie Raymond – Senior Marketing Manager
The decision around returning to work after having a baby was one of the hardest times during my maternity leave. Before having a baby, I was flying through my career; working hard 5 days a week, building skills, experience and reputation while successfully reaching my goals. The thought of not being able to return to that was hard to process. In some ways, I wanted my career to get back to the same pace pre-baby, but at the same time, I didn’t; I wanted to spend time with this amazing, little boy of mine who isn’t going to stay little for long. Something had to give. I knew I would never get this time back, however I didn’t want to lose all that I had built up over the last ten years.
What ended this turmoil in my mind was being fortunate to find a company who believe in flexible working, and who have put their trust and belief in me to work part time. I am now able to continue doing what I love at work and for an incredible organisation which allows me to keep using and building my skills and experience. At the same time, I’m able to spend precious time with my toddler.
Life can be busy. Add a child to the equation, no family living nearby and it becomes even busier. Flexible working allows us to focus on work and our family commitments. Trust given to those lucky enough to work flexibly reduces the stress during unexpected times of need which can be common with young children – dealing with the sudden bout of chicken pox doing the rounds at nursery for example (long live Calpol)!
This little boy of mine isn’t going to stay little for long
I would urge companies to really think about offering flexible working and consider the benefits of such. The absent hours are too often the focus, whereas it’s the working hours which are the most important. While working part-time can often feel like you’re working against the clock (when you’re used to working a full week), however it can actually be the most efficient, motivational and focussed way of working.
Is flexible working the perfect work-life balance? Personally, I can occasionally still be mentally pulled in both directions which is probably a natural response to motherhood; constantly asking yourself if you’re doing the right thing. However, what I do know is that for me, this arrangement works. I’m happy and my family is happy, so isn’t that what we should all strive to achieve?
Steve Johnson – Senior Prototyping Consultant
People are often surprised when I tell them that I am a part-time worker and voluntarily so. So why did I choose to work flexibly? First and foremost, it was to allow me to spend more time with my wife and children, one of whom has several life-limiting conditions. Flexible working seemed the best route that would allow myself to achieve my ultimate goal of a better work-life balance. Fortunately, I work for a company that believes in helping their staff achieve this.
Has it worked? Absolutely. I am still completely focussed on my work from Monday to Thursday, knowing that I still need get everything sorted by the end of the ‘week’. The fact that this is a Thursday rather than a Friday is neither here-nor-there. It’s just a different day to end the week on. Then comes Friday morning and I’m in full on Dad and Husband mode. I’m happy, my wife is happy and the children too. What’s not to like?
Would I recommend it to others? If you can afford to work flexibly and you have a forward-thinking employer like I do, then go for it! Believe me you won’t regret it.