Tag: "Flexible Working"

Leaning in on our terms - 4 steps to make your job flexible

Leaning in on our terms – 4 steps to make your job flexible

One of the biggest challenges for working parents is how to balance leaning into a demanding corporate career with caring responsibilities. In an era of mass customisation, the smart answer is to customise your job.

Inflexible flexible working policies?

Chances are, your employer offers flexible working policies. The problem is that often they’re not only inflexible in their application, but also likely to sit within rigid corporate cultures and entrenched working practices that deny the possibility of combining parenthood with a senior career. It’s no surprise that research reveals the most common flexible arrangement women opt for is some form of part-time working –experiencing the well documented “part-time pay penalty” and taking a hit on longer term career prospects.

Offering reduced hours arrangements is neither truly flexible nor effective – it’s merely a way of squeezing those employees unable to balance outside responsibilities with stringent full-time hours into traditional workplace arrangements.

In an era where almost anything can be customized, the smart answer is to customize your job. Given available technology and the relentless drive towards 24/7 working, there’s never been a better time to redesign full-time jobs. The challenge lies in identifying an arrangement you can be confident will work for you.

Ready to customize your full-time job for better balance?

Use this four-step process to customize your manager level full-time job so you can remain on the career ladder and live a more balanced life.

1. List the Key Tasks for which your employer hired you

The key parts of your job are the parts of your job where the majority of your focus should lie. You need to start here, and it’ s essential for two reasons. Firstly, it will remind you of the skills, qualifications and experience (both prior and gained inside your current organisation) that make you valuable to your employer.

And secondly, it will identify clearly the “deliverables” on which your workplace performance should be assessed. One of the biggest challenges where a flexible arrangement involves remote working, is making sure senior managers are assessing you on outputs, not presence.

Now is also a good time to identify those parts of your job which eat into your time but don’t actually require your level of skill. Can they be delegated? Automated? Or perhaps even eliminated?

2. Identify which of your deliverables are “time critical”  and which are “location critical” 

Time critical tasks are things like monthly reports, location critical tasks are things like on-site training courses. So take your list of key tasks and identify which of your key tasks fall in these categories.

Reviewing these two aspects will suggest where the flexibility in the job lies. And, of course, feeding into this is the fact that few people work alone so you’ll need to give thought to how you and your colleagues can support each other’s desire for flexibility.

3. Consider your personal preference for managing the work-life interface

Thirty years of social science research into work-life balance has shown – among other things – that most people tend to have a preference over whether they keep work and life separate or integrate them.

Working in circumstances which go against your preferences is likely to make you unhappy, stressed and disengaged. Of course total separation and total integration are actually two ends of a continuum. To identify your personal style take a look at this online questionnaire developed by a leading work-life academic.

4. Identify your stakeholders

Finally, take some time to identify and list the people around you that will need to be on board for your new working arrangement to succeed. This might include customers or clients, other people inside your workplace and people in your wider network – such as partners, childcare providers and so on. At minimum you’ll need to manage your interactions with them differently; and in some cases re-negotiating existing arrangements may be necessary.

Having worked through these four steps, you’re more likely to arrive at a customised full-time job which will enable you to keep your feet on the career ladder while feeling you’re living a more balanced life. And the chances are that in most cases it will consist of small adaptations, rather than a radical re-design. Which is all to the good. As someone pointed out to me a couple of years ago “change happens best when nobody notices!”

Your final challenge will be to identify and develop the key skills you’ll need to ensure on-going success. These may include enhancing or even changing your communication style, improved self-management or even training so you can harness technology more effectively away from the office.

If your employer provides coaching or training as part of their Career Development Strategy, now’s the time to take advantage of this.

Anna MellorAuthor: Anna Meller. has spent the last 20 years making work-life balance her business. A successful consultant, thought leader, researcher and author, Anna’s accessible approach is both evidence based and pragmatic. In December 2013 she will be piloting a workshop ‘Leaning in on Our Terms‘ in London to explore the ideas shared above.  

Fabulously Flexible Career Options For The Professional Working Mum

Fabulously Flexible Career Options For The Professional Working Mum

Many women dream of a flexible career, but cannot create it in their current job. So which career options are flexible, pay well, but also give working mums time to spend with their children?


Once qualified, which can take 7 years, a legal position such as a Lawyer or Solicitor is a highly paid career option. Salary is variable, depending on which area of the country you practice in, and the type of work you do. The Law Society has a helpful page on becoming a solicitor. Some legal representatives work for a Private Legal firm, whilst others work for corporate companies. The main difference between the two, is that private legal firms often take on cases involving representing clients in court, whereas the corporate legal representatives deal with legal issues within the company they work for.  With higher salary though, the career does offer you the flexibility to work less hours, and plan your days of work around your family needs.


Software Developers

To become a Software Developer, you normally need a degree, foundation degree or HNC/HND in IT, and a creative approach to problem solving. The direct.gov careers service can help with further information. Many working mums already have the ability to solve problems, and if you have the computer ability to match, this could be a choice for you. You need to communicate well with customers, and be able to follow technical plans to design and build computer programmes for them. The salary is good for full time work, but once you build up your experience, you will earn higher wages, you should be able to reduce your hours to fit around your family life. Working from home is also more accepted in the IT sector compared to many other sectors.


Graphic Designers

Graphic Designers do not have to have qualifications, as their artistic creations and portfolios can often speak volumes more than a certificate.  You can have a degree, foundation degree or HND in a related art or design course. The Design Council has more information on courses. You need to be artistic, have the ability to listen to customer requirements, and you need to have the vision to create exactly what clients want to see. Most working mums do this on a daily basis when helping to create school projects or Easter bonnets, so you might have some experience already. Salary for this career choice is similar to that of the software developer, and will rise with experience. It also offers you the flexibility you need as a working mum, to fit your projects around your family needs.


Driving Instructors

The career of a driving instructor is very flexible, if you have a franchise, and work for yourself.  You can become an ADI or PDI driving instructor, and the money you make teaching others to drive can be as much or as little as you want, depending on the hours you choose to work. Gov.uk has good advice on a becoming a driving instructor. This is a perfect career for working mums, which I know first-hand, because my friend is doing it at the moment! She works with a company called Drive Dynamics, and has their full franchise deal, with an adapted car, and guaranteed pupils, and support of a national driving school. She does not have to worry about taking bookings, as their call centre do it all for her, which means she can work the hours that fit around her children.



There are many types of consultants, management, financial, HR, design, building, which all can be done in a setting, or freelance.  If you have previously had a successful career in consultancy, but do not want to go back to working full time, or unsociable hours in an office setting, then why not look at the freelance option? Check out these great tips on how to be a successful free-lancer from The Guardian. Many companies would be happy to enlist your help, as it often suits them to have someone on call, rather than full time. It gives you the chance to be more objective, as you have no loyalties or bias to the company you are advising, and offers clients a different perspective. You can then work to the hours that fit in around your home life, without having to worry about expensive childcare costs.   


Working for a company or organisation has its benefits, but freelance work could be an advantage to you, although you will be working self-employed. This means you do not get all the benefits you have always had within a company, and have to register with the Inland revenue as Self Employed.


DianeAuthor: Diane Carr, journalist and writer. Diane, was a working Mum of three children, and went to her local college in the evenings to attain her B Tech Diploma in Education, which gave her the qualification to tutor at College, and work as a B tech Nursery Nurse and Workplace NVQ Assessor at a Private Day Nursery in the daytime.  After other evening courses, she currently works as an office manager, ISO Auditor, and writes articles and press releases for various business sectors.