Its been a rather long year since I returned back to work after my second maternity leave. I am not just grateful to have the opportunity to go out to work, continue my career and have those rare moments when I’m able to drink tea whilst its still hot but also the fact that my employer supports flexible and part-time working. My employer has a hot-desking policy which means I am able to work remotely from home once or twice every week without having to “fight” for it. Hot-desking is a work space sharing and flexible model in which employees outnumber desks and involves allocating desk to employees when they are required or on a rota system, rather than giving each worker their own permanent desk. Additionally, it involves multiple staff using a single physical work station during different time periods. It is fast becoming a common practice for most big organisations located in high demand and expensive locations such as in Canary Wharf andd City of London to save building and infrastructure costs.
Recent survey by working mum showed that 18% of mums had been forced to leave their work when flexible and/or remote working was not allowed. Adapting to work was tough the first time around when I had my first son, not just for me, but my family as well. Then there wasnt a hot desking policy and work from home was at your boss discretion on an adhoc basis. This time around, I returned back to work on a 4 work day basis, plus I managed to get Mondays off work to spend at home with my boys. On top of that, I am able to work from home atleast once a week. Flexible working and part time working definitely made it slightly easier this time around.
Sometime though an important team meeting is scheduled for my day off which means I can be “flexible enough” to dial into the meeting from home. Also, forgetting about me when I work from home is not uncommon and it means I have to work harder to remain a part of my team. Some evenings, I have to log in to complete a time pressured report or send an email to the offshore team in India. Additionally, the hot-desking first come first serve policy means some days I struggle to get a suitable desk in the office the days I’m in and can end up seating far away from my team. Plus the clear desk policy means I can’t put my kids photo on my desk like I did when I had my first son.
Similarly, on the home front, It is not always easy too as some days I get dragged into issues at home that would otherwise have been resolved my weekday nanny and/or husband and some days its actually much harder to focus on work than I imagined! Nevertheless, the benefits of flexible and remote working definitely supersedes working every work day physically from the office. Some of the benefits of flexible working from my experience includes:
- Improved work-life balance which means I’m able to manage my own timetable to suit my needs. Recognising that individuals have different needs both inside and outside of work is key
- The chance for my team to have extended operating hours as I’m usually more than happy to log in to cover the US working time-zone when required
- Reduced levels of sickness. It also helps to reduce absenteeism as the flexibility means I’m able manage school runs, deal better with sickness, doctors appointments etc
- Greater continuity as staff, who might otherwise have left their job can manage their personal schedules. I don’t see how I would have continued being a working mom if I didn’t have any flexibility
- Increased employee engagement and loyalty leading to better productivity and performance
- Embedding a culture of flexibility reduces the different issues that can prevent women from advancing their careers
Offering flexible working is also about doing the ‘right thing’. Advantages for employers and employees exist when the employer allows employees to work flexible schedules- whether the flexible work schedule involves part-time work days, compressing work days, flexible daily hours, telecommuting or remote working. Its is usually a win-win situation.
What other benefit can flexible working offer employees and employers?