Category: Negotiating and Making it Work

Working Flexibly and Returning to Workplace – Should you feel guilty?

Working Flexibly and Returning to Workplace – Should you feel guilty?

Are you working flexibly? Or are you looking to return to the workplace and considering working flexibly? If you are you most likely will feel anxious about your children’s future whilst feeling self-reproachful for spending time away from them. Here’s some encouraging news.

Working Flexibly? – The benefits for your child

Women whose mothers were employed outside the home are more likely to hold jobs themselves, to have managerial responsibilities at work and earn higher wages than women whose mums stayed at home full-time during their childhood, according to a Harvard Business School study.

Similarly, men brought up by working mothers are more likely to contribute to household duties and spend more time caring for family members.

The findings also revealed that it didn’t matter whether mothers work flexibly in temporary roles a few months one year, or fifty hours per week through the whole childhood.

Rather, differences occurred when children had a role model who demonstrated that women are more than able to balance working both inside and outside the home. So, even returning to work a few hours a week could increase the chances of your child becoming successful once they reach adulthood, enter the labour force and possibly become parents themselves.

Another study carried out on children in Denmark, found that children, with mothers who returned to work for only 10 to 19 hours a week (similar to holding a temporary position or part-time job) during the first four years of their child’s life, had grades that were 2.6% higher, relative to children whose mothers stayed at home. And, in the long term, the children with working mothers grew up to do better. Having a hard-working, female role model to look up to far outweighed the fact that mothers had to spend a little bit less time with their children when they were young.

Working Flexibly – Job offers are growing

Increasingly, employers are catering to the trend of more mothers wanting to remain in or re-join the workforce. This coincides with a societal shift in opinion that mother should be able to choose to work flexibly whilst raising their children instead of being resigned to look after their children full-time, at home. The Internet is increasingly filled with specialised recruitment agencies, job boards, websites and even a platform such as Flexy, with accommodating, temporary and part-time positions that could be attractive to many mothers wanting to work flexibly outside the home whilst their children are growing up.

Working Flexibly – The benefits for you

Although society, as a whole, has come a lot closer to achieving gender equality, there still exists a great amount of pressure and parental guilt over both parents working outside the home. However, much academic research has proven that his should not be the case, as there a range of benefits to being or having a working mother. For example, Harvard Business School’s research provided evidence that not only do working mothers help their families economically, they also help themselves emotionally and professionally as well as setting an example for their children by showing that contributions at work and at home are of equal value, for both fathers and mothers. These are just a handful of powerful reasons for working mothers to feel accomplished and proud of the fact they are able to return to the workforce, rather than guilty for being employed whilst raising their children.

 

Author: Charlotte Woodhams. Charlotte works at Flexy, a recruitment app, matching workers and employers for short-term contracts and shift work. Jobs include: office, admin and reception, catering and events, retail and merchandising, research and testing, sales and customer service, street marketing and promotions, warehouse pickers and packers, cleaning and maintenance. Jobs are London-focused.

If you want flexible work, it will help to be flexible

If you want flexible work, it will help to be flexible

We are well aware of the sense of frustration most people have when searching for that perfect flexible job. Whilst your children are your prime concern, you may wish to work either for financial reasons or you want an outlet for your talents. Your talent that, pre children, took years of hard work to build up, could be wasted if the right opportunity doesn’t appear.

Here at Workpond we are passionate and positive about what the future for flexibility holds – see ‘Flexible Working – Predictions for the Year Ahead on the Future of Work‘. However, while we spend much of our time educating businesses about thow they can redesign roles to attract better talent, there is definitely scope for educating those seeking flexible work on how to be successful in winning the best opportunities.

Flexible work – the business view

To explain what we mean, it may be best to go back to the conversation that we have with our clients – the businesses. We spend much time persuading them, that if they are flexible about hours worked and remote working, they will broaden their pool of talent and increase the calibre enormously. Some are uncomfortable with the lack of control that flexible working brings to their processes – but we try to persuade them that they should focus on results – what do you want to achieve by recruiting this new person. What can they achieve – and to measure by results, rather than time at a desk. When we are successful, this conversation will result in a really interesting flexible role – if not, they will stick to their guns and advertise it full-time, as they have always done before. It is all a matter of demand and supply – there are many more people looking for flexible work from scratch than businesses looking for flexible workers. If employers don’t take advantage of this talent pool, they lose out on experienced talent that has taken years to build up.

Flexible work – the candidates view

On the other side of the equation are the candidates – mothers, fathers, and others looking for consulting or interim work, part-time work or remote working. We have those who are A* candidates and those who we know we will find hard to place – and the key to success is not how skilled or experienced they are, but how driven and flexible they are. Yes, flexible….

Very often mothers phone Workpond explaining that they are wanting to return to work. They don’t mind what they do, as long as they can work for 3 day a week in term time only. It is difficult for us to then match them to our clients as their purpose is not clear and they are inflexible about when they can work.

Flexible work – the successful candidates

The successful mothers and candidates (many of whom are men) that we help find work have a very different approach. They generally pick the phone up when they have seen a job advertised that they really like the look of. There is a flame that has been ignited in them. They want to work for our client because they love what they do. Once we have established that they are attracted to the culture and purpose of the company, and that their skills are aligned, the question of flexibility and pay will come up. Our best candidates are the ones that say that they are really grateful that the company is willing to give them flexibility – and in return, they too will be flexible (within reason).

Where our clients and our candidates align and where both are flexible we find that the best results occur. It is no surprise then that “We believe that best outcomes are achieved when people’s lives and business goals are shared”.

Author: AmandaFlexible Working Seabrook. Amanda is the director of Workpond, a resourcing consultancy helping experienced professionals find flexible opportunities.

 

Working Mums - Finding your work / life blend in 2015

Working Mums – Finding your work / life blend in 2015

If you’re returning to work in 2015 after maternity leave you might be understandably worried about the prospect of juggling work and your new life at home. Hopefully help is at hand! Last year working mum Anna Rasmussen launched a research project called Keeping Women In. Anna asked 250 high potential working mothers to tell us about their lives inside and outside of work. She specifically asked the women what they needed their employers to do to support them to reach their full career potential after having kids. The results of Anna’s research are based on the concept of achieving an acceptable work / life blend.

Her research is full of simple, effective tips for businesses (and bosses) to support working mothers. You can download a free summary report and also watch this short video

One of the key findings of Keeping Women In was that 80% of the potential solutions to help support working mothers relate to leaders and individual bosses. Just 20% relate to the wider business. Here are some examples of top tips for both:

Tips for leaders managing working mothers:

  • Openly talk to your working mothers about their home lives and discuss any specific challenges they face eg. childcare, school holidays, current workload and working in the evenings
  • Set clear objectives and career plans
  • Recognise merit and contribution over presenteeism
  • Acknowledge hours worked outside of the office and provide recognition
  • Openly communicate career opportunities and provide encouragement and support to move to the next level

Tips for the wider business for managing working mothers:

  • Offer a condensed working week in school holidays, flexibility to work from home if needed or emergency child care support
  • Ensure effective technology is in place to support remote working
  • Develop a culture that supports high achieving working mothers
  • Organise company family days
  • Encourage company networking and mentoring so that high achieving working mothers receive exposure to senior figures within the business

Implementing small changes can make a huge difference to the over-all well-being of working mothers and this in turn impacts productivity and retention.

I’ve had the privilege of working personally with Anna on this project and have seen first-hand the positive steps working mothers and their employers have taken as a result of it. Hopefully you will find it equally inspiring.

We are determined to continue to support working mums in 2015! As such, we going to be running a series of webinars over the next few months to give even more insight into our Keeping Women In research findings and we need real working Mums – people like you to get involved!

KWI_Logo_green_blend.
Anna photoAuthor: Alexa Garthwaite, supporting the marketing of the researcher: Anna Rasmussen. Anna works with organisations to attract, engage and retain female talent. She has developed the app Open Blend which facilitates interactive coaching sessions between a business leader and a working mother. If you would like to be added to the mailing list for further updates about Keeping Women In, including webinar details, please email alexa.garthwaite@guidantgroup.com – She would love to hear from you

Why Working At Home Rocks for Mothers

Why Working At Home Rocks for Mothers

Holly Easterby is a fashion blogger who loves taking pictures of kids in fun outfits. She shares fashionable kiddie items at Bonza Brats for parents to see and also takes the time to write about family stuff for blogs such as this one. In this article, Holly talks about the benefits of working from home especially for mothers. Of course it’s brilliant for fathers too, and you may wish to let this article drop onto his radar.

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Working from home is now fast becoming a global phenomenon that’s getting a lot of people hooked. Is it an empty promise of better income? Or the answer to a mum who needs a job but has to take care of her kids at the same time? See these pros and cons and you be the judge if you are better off working as one.

Benefits to the Working Mothers

1. You need not put up with traffic. With a traditional office job, you will need to allow for traffic and travel time. A work at home job will allow you to fit in the school run, and will certainly allow you to be home before bedtime, rather than being stuck in traffic and missing it all together.

2. No office politics to think of. You pretty much work alone in front of your computer. Although you may be working with other virtual employees, you don’t see them face-to-face. The good thing about it? No need to worry if they will be playing politics within the organisation. Even if they do, you won’t be hearing much of it, which will let you keep your own happy bubble intact.

3. Kiss standard black pumps goodbye. Your boss will probably not be asking you to wear them, but you know how it feels like when the others are well-dressed and you still showing bits of the children’s breakfast on your lapel. In front of your own computer at home, you can ditch the standard office pumps goodbye (although it’s okay to keep several just in case you feel like drinking tea in a posh restaurant somewhere with your friends).

4. Ability to breathe when you need it. Your employer behind your back will prevent from giving in to your body’s natural instinct to sigh when you’re frustrated. When you feel like the need to stretch your shoulders, you can do it anytime without a pair of eyes waiting for you to make the slightest mistake.

6. Closer to your kids. Now among the pros of working at home, this could be the top reason why Mums are doing it. Although you may have a nanny, au-pair or childminder, it’s still different when you can be there personally to take care of their needs when you feel like it. You could also save on childcare costs by working more flexible hours and using less childcare.

7. Control fashion splurges. Women have the tendency to make splurges on clothes and this becomes tempting even more when passing by a boutique. Since you no longer work in an environment that often encourages you to think how people see the way you look, the need to buy more clothes and accessories is also reduced.

9. Lets you save on gas. You’re not only being friendly to the environment by making it a less polluted place to live in. You get to save a bit too on gas, tube or train fares. Not a hefty sum of money, but it’s still considered saving nonetheless.

10. Offers growth. By working at home, you may find it easier to create opportunities for yourself. Working at an office will let you wait for several years before you can get a promotion. With a given unique skill, you can choose when it’s time for a career change and opt to work for another provider that offers better rates, or put up your own business for an upgrade.

11. Healthy eating. While bringing packed lunches is okay, there will be days that you will also need to eat together with your workmates at fast-food chains out of courtesy. With this said, fatty foods become unavoidable. Working mums at home don’t suffer from such dilemma (although the biscuit jar is always near..)

Downsides to Consider

Working from home is of course it’s not all rosy and perfect. If it was easy everyone would do it! There are certainly downsides, and it’s wise to be aware of them from the start.

1. People think you’re always available. Your in-laws or neighbours could distract you from working and pop up in your home office any time of the day. Some people misunderstand that working at home does not require deadlines. Your partner may also think you now have time to drop off his dry-cleaning, walk the dog and do all the jobs he didn’t get around to over the weekend.

2. Tendency to follow your own pace. Since you don’t have a supervisor watching you, there is a tendency to slack off at the job. Especially at the start you need a huge amount of initiative, positivity, self-belief and persistence , as you don’t have clients yet that have given you deadlines and it may feel like no one cares about your progress.

3. You could neglect your looks. Many of those working at home, especially the individuals who do not need to see their virtual bosses or clients on-line video, end up neglecting their looks. Putting on make-up and visiting the hair salon as most office-based working women do could become alien things.

4. Lack of people to compete with. Unless you work for an organisation that keeps a roster of virtual employees, you only have yourself to compete with. A competitive environment will always keep you on your toes, trying to best each other. You will need to discipline yourself and beat your last performance in order to improve your skills.

5. Other investments to think of. Prepare your wallet for a bit of expense. If you will be working at home and you need to research online, a slow Internet connection will not do. Photo and video editing will require you to buy a high-end laptop, or a desktop with great specs.

6. Isolation. It could start to feel quite lonely, when you work from home and don’t see a living person for hours and hours. There are no colleagues interested in your progress, no one to ask for help. No one seems to be waiting for your results, especially at the start. Once you have build up a new routine, it’s easier. And later it may feel less lonely once you have joined a networking group, created your own support network of mentors, coaches and business partners or have connected with virtual colleagues/competitors.

Final Thoughts

Many would rather opt to work in government or corporate environments because they think these offer better stability. But working at home could also offer the same benefit if you have the right skill, services or products to offer. But as you can see from above, it may or may not be for you depending on the way you see it.

holly-easterby Author: Holly’s love for children has seen her featured in many education and children websites, whether talking about healthy snacks, motivating students or children’s fashion at Bonza Brats. Holly loves reading books, and shopping is her way of spending time with her young family. If you would like to catch her, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @HollyEasterby

Part-time working - 2 mums show how they make it work

Part-time working – 2 mums show how they make it work

Have you ever seen any of the Indiana Jones films? They’re pretty great for keeping the whole family involved; plenty of perilous adventure to keep the kids and the other half entertained, while also sporting enough of Harrison Ford’s rugged 1980s physique to keep us ladies watching.

In the third film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there’s an iconic scene in which “Indy” finds himself gazing upon the legendary Holy Grail. The only problem is, it’s on the other side of a bottomless chasm.

In the end, it takes a leap of faith for Indy to find there was a way across all along.

I can’t help but think, though, that this seems to be the case for too many mothers approaching the idea of flexible work. It seems almost too good to be true, dangling just out of our reach, demanding a leap of faith that – unlike the care-free archaeologist-adventurer himself – we can’t risk when our children are at stake.

But it doesn’t have to be a leap of faith. There are other mothers who have leapt that chasm, and are living proof that balancing a job and a child is possible.

20140827_163435~2A New Routine

I interviewed two mums employed at Love Energy Savings to find out how they struck the balance between a healthy work life and time spent with their children. Shabs works around her nine-month-old daughter Sienna Luciana by working 8 till 5 every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Figuring out what hours I would work was fairly straightforward,” she said about her return to the job. “It simply came down to sitting down with my boss and having an honest, open discussion about what would be best for me and my daughter, and how we could balance that with what would be best for the company.”

Shabs works the first half of the week because it helps take some of the workload off the shoulders of her colleagues, which tends to mount up at the beginning of the week and cools off by Thursday afternoon.

The Right Balance

In order to help maintain a healthy career path, Shabs explained that she actually works some extra hours for the company when it’s required for the business. “Doing so much work in such a short time span may be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding,” she affirmed. “It means that I don’t have to put my career on the back burner while I’m spending time with Sienna, which is a dream for me.”

Tracey Mort, another working mum at the company, also works the first three days of the week. “I do feel bad not being here on Thursday and Friday,” she said. “But I don’t want to put my daughter into nursery five days a week. I’m essentially paying someone else to do something that I love; spending time with my child.”

Tracey has a two-year-old daughter called Lilley, whom she looks after at home outside of her part-time hours. “We can’t afford full-time nursery fees,” she explained, “so I have required flexible hours since starting. Phil, our director, was very accommodative.”

“My working days are also based on what works for my childcare needs,” Shabs noted. “They actually complement each other quite well. I think it helps that the three-day sprint allows me to get into ‘work mode’ rather than a more intermittent schedule, meaning that I can work more efficiently while I’m there.”

20140827_163536~2A Good Support Network

Both mums affirmed that one of the key components in establishing a healthy work-life balance is having a great support network on-hand. “Lilley’s grandparents are a big help,” noted Tracey, who credits them with helping babysitting during out of work hours. “It means that every now and again Lilley can spend time with her family when I need time to wind down, or if it’s date night.”

One of the biggest aids for Shabs was having a good relationship with her employer. “Having a network of family and friends is always going to be a big help, but establishing a healthy relationship with your employer is beneficial for both parties,” she continued.

“If you show your managers that you still want to do the best you can for the company, and that you can work hard during the hours you’re in the office, they tend to be far more understanding about flexible hours.”

Author: Hazel Deller writes for Love Energy Savings. Business energy comparison specialists who lower business energy bills through their free & impartial services. Love Energy Savings help business owners to improve their profits by reducing their day to day outgoings, saving valuable time in the process of comparing and switching suppliers.

7 Ideas for Inspiring Flexible Working in your Workplace

7 Ideas for Inspiring Flexible Working in your Workplace

Especially for International Women’s Day Anna Meller wrote an e-book to help women inspire change at work, and helping you make your workplace a more flexible one. Anna firmly believes you an inspire change to, after all “change happens best when nobody notices” and “small changes add up”. Just pick one or two that you feel are most likely to succeed in your organisation and help build more flexible workplaces.

Anna’s top 7 most practical tips for inspiring flexible working

  • Re-design your job for flexibility, start by defining your job objectives, and make sure you get clarity on what you are meant to achieve and what you should focus your time and energy on.
  • When you are looking for more flexibility, consider working the same hours, and look for ways you can redistribute your hours eg. to evenings, early mornings, weekends or distance working.
  • When your organisation is hiring, mention there are flexible recruitment agencies that may well bring in the talent they are looking for if they can offer more flexibility.
  • Schedule a team meeting to discuss work life balance, and what it means to different people in your team. How can you support each other in achieving this?
  • Have you got all the skills you need for flexible working? Check it out on the e work life assessment tool and identify skills gaps for yourself or your team.
  • Be a role model. If you are a middle or senior manager working flexibly, be visible. It’s invaluable to show others that it can be done, inside and outside the organisation.
  • Identify the business case for flexible working for your organisation. There’s a good one on the Agile Future Forum to help you get started.

Would you like to know more? You can read the full story in Anna Mellers e-book: Ten Ideas for Inspiring Change in the Workplace .

Author: Inge Woudstra, Trainer, Speaker, Consultant and Founding Director of Mum & Career

Make remote working work for you

Make remote working work for you

If you have made a successful flexible working application, it is time to start preparing. In order to make the transition from the office to working from home both smooth and successful, take a look at our advice below.

Set boundaries

As a mother, this may be hard, but if you choose to work from home for your family you need to create a space that is entirely dedicated to work. This will effectively be your office, so make sure your workstation has all the equipment you’ll need to work efficiently. Make sure that your family understand and respect this space, as well as your need to work. You will need to focus too; don’t let household chores distract you.

Develop a routine

If you are working remotely to assist your work/life balance, set your timetable to do just that. If you are in charge of getting the children ready for school, start work as soon as you get home. Use your time to your advantage by making the most of your time. Ensure that your work and personal life remain separate.

Be productive

Now that you have a workstation and a timetable, it’s time to get productive. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can relax and work any less – you still have the same responsibilities that you had in the office. Manage your time and stay organised. Set yourself goals and stick to them. But remember to allow yourself breaks. Go outside, have coffee in the garden if its good weather, or meet with a friend for lunch.

Latina LaptopMaintain communication

A great way to stay on track with your work is to stay in contact with your colleagues. Start by letting people know what times you’re available. Its important that your colleagues know when they can reach you, as well as when to expect a reply. Active communication can convey that you are approachable, trustworthy and dependable. You can still be an active member of the team from any location.

Use the right tools

There are a number of tools you can use to aid communication and collaboration. You can schedule regular webinars for feedback and brainstorming sessions using either Skype or Google Hangout. If you want to keep on top of your projects, you can use applications like Basecamp to keep to deadlines and keep others updated on your progress.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

You can do all the planning in the world, but working from home is a major transition for anyone. It will take time to find and settle into a rhythm. If you feel like you need help, whether that is professionally or emotionally, just ask! If you have concerns about work, be open and don’t be afraid to ask questions. This may be a period of adjustment for your employer and colleagues too.

We hope that these suggestions have given you a better idea of what to expect when making the transition to remote working.

About the author: Sara Parker blogs for Face for Business – providers of telephone answering services to UK SMEs.

How to creatively craft a new flexible role

How to creatively craft a new flexible role

Are you struggling to work out how your role could be more flexible? Is there a flexible job out there for you? Could you return to your employer in a role that is more flexible? You might think you have few choices or are lost in the number of possibilities. Here’s a new way of looking at this.

Start by thinking afresh about the kind of role you would like to create for yourself if you were free to do so. What would you really create if you were entirely free?

Amanda*, formerly a Board director of a PR company, consulted me about her return to work after a 10 year career break during which she’d carried out some individual PR projects. She was uncertain as to what to do next: although she enjoyed some aspects of her previous role, there were others that didn’t interest her at all anymore. During our work together, Amanda identified the specific elements of her former role that still appealed (qualitative research and guiding guests around exhibitions and historic places) and set about researching how to pursue her career in each of these fields.

Rosie* had taken a six year break from a City law firm. While she loved working in the law and felt strong loyalty to her former employer, she knew that the demands of returning to the partnership track were not right for her. At the same time, Rosie knew that she had lots to offer her firm: she understood the pressures on trainee and newly qualified solicitors as well as the business needs of the organisation. She believed that she could help her firm by providing specific support to the lawyers as they set about building their own practices … and the HR Director agreed with her! The firm funded Rosie to gain a coaching qualification and she has continued to develop and evolve her internal career management role as the needs of the firm have changed.

Both of these are examples of women who have designed a role which stimulates them, builds on their skills and expertise as well as taking them in a new direction. While Amanda is crafting a role from elements of her former career, Rosie has been able to create a role which was new both for her and for her employer.

If you’d like to try this approach, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which elements of my previous roles did I most enjoy and excel at?
  • Can these elements exist as roles on their own or as key aspects of other roles?
  • Did I notice any gaps at a previous employer which I would like to fill?

Do you know of anyone else who has crafted their new role? We’d love to include their story here.

Author: From the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.