Of course, we aren’t talking about whether or not your staff can touch their toes or backflip across the office.
The issue of flexible working has been at the forefront of work discussions for nine months now. Pushed there by the grim reality of COVID-19 we admit, but we’ll take that and we’re running with it!
We’ve been banging the drum about flexible working for five years. We know that high quality, flexible work is the superhighway to advancing women’s equality in the workplace. It’s the key to unlocking the hidden talent that is being lost due to school run time restraints and childcare needs.
And which group in society is set to benefit the most from this adjusted timetable? Time-pressed women juggling career goals with caring responsibilities who need flexible working – for self-fulfilment as well as for financial reasons. Women who want to push themselves further, faster while raising their families or caring for elderly parents. And why shouldn’t they?
It has been said that, ‘We’re all millennials now’. Back in March, as a nation, we embraced overnight the possibilities inherent in connecting virtually with our colleagues and tackling projects separately, yet together. We’ve proved en masse that is it possible to work remotely, at unconventional hours and to be productive, creative and energised. Many businesses are refocusing to adjust to this on a permanent basis and the latest exceptional ad from HSBC arouses the new energy this can unleash.
Our talented candidates bring with them a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience. Having worked in many roles by this point in their career, they’ve seen it all and they know what they want – and what they don’t. They tell us culture is everything.
Calling a job ‘flexible’ and then expecting the employee to work a 40 hour week, or to squash five days’ work into four days’ pay is simply not on.
Boards with diverse executive teams are quite simply more profitable. A lot more, according to April data from The Pipeline which shows that UK business and shareholders are missing out on £47bn of pre-tax profit by not engaging diverse leaders.
Every mountain worth climbing has a few barriers along the route. We can help if you’re hitting these. There are so many ways flexible working can be made to work, but we aren’t pretending it isn’t a learning curve when you’re starting out – as employer or employee.
You might choose a job share to get two brains on one problem; perhaps with a more senior partner guiding and training up the junior job share.
You might agree a timetable that means there is always a responsive person ready to field queries or deliver a project.
You may be transparent with your email sign offs or out of office messages, reassuring customers that although the individuals in your team are not full time, your clients will always get the service they need.
Key to all of it is communication; regular, honest, and open communication. Zoom calls and Google Hangouts have revolutionised the way we all talk to each other and help to build the element of trust that both parties will need to inspire.
By knocking over the final great barrier to women accessing the workplace equitably – availability of time – we can truly advance gender equality at work. We can open doors where those who have the freedom to be full-time employees didn’t even know they were closed.
Our thanks to 2to3 Days for this article.
2to3days is the UK’s largest online community of highly capable women seeking to pursue their career on a flexible basis. 87% have 10+ years’ experience, 32% have Masters and /or PhD and 41% have senior management experience. www.2to3days.com
Parental Choice work with forward thinking businesses who are looking to support their employees with the juggle of career and life.
Get in touch to see how we can help your business.
020 8979 6453