Did you know it is National Work Wise Week? A group behind this, Work Wise UK have pushed this initiative forward yesterday for 2012. They are urging managers across the UK to get behind this campaign and make sure their professional practices are embracing flexibility.
Businesses across the UK are being asked to take a closer look at their working practices/polices as our business environment evolves into the 21st century. Flexibility being key on the agenda.
A study carried out by Virgin Media Business found that 60% of employees will begin to work from home over the next decade.
When asked 62% of professionals suggested that biggest plus to working from home is not having to endure the commute. The group Work Wise think that more businesses should consider the wider benefits of flexible working.
Philip Flaxton, chief executive of the organisation, commented: "The trick for employers is being flexible enough to adapt to their workforce. By doing this, they can make sure they maximise the potential
Businesses who are working towards a more flexible workforce with “ad-hoc” home working are building a more positive workforce.
A study carried out by AWA – Advances Workplace Associates discovered that allowing staff to work from home reduces sickness and absenteeism. Surprisingly it is also found to improve morale and productivity.
This is positive news as it demonstrates that forward thinking companies in these economic times are embracing flexible working and moving with the times.
There are a number of businesses who are promoting their flexible work policies and are leading the way. Some of these include; Unilever, Aviva, GlaxosmithKline and Nationwide.
Even though this promotes positive attitude and productivity it is equally important that clear policies and guidelines are given to ensure successful usage of home working to ensure it is not abused.
Oh, I remember this well….
Not long after baby number 1 was born I was already “dreading” the thought of work and quite adamant I wasn’t going back to my old job. The hours, the commute, the pressure, the “absolutely” non-flexible working policy and also the not fitting in anymore because I simply couldn’t go out and play after work – every night! This was several years ago and believe me you were expected to return quickly to the same job and carry on as if nothing had changed. Leave at 5, and you were not pulling your weight or “doing a half day”!.
It was time to move on and reinvent oneself….
Armed with super confidence (haven’t a clue were this came from) and a mission to work flexibly I re-entered the marketplace with full force and a new “identity”. Well not literally, just my bundle of joy in mind and my desire to balance the act. I charged into the City to find that job and had a list of opportunities to explore.
As I delivered presentations, sat through panel interviews I was getting closer to the “mum” subject and the questions to follow…..This was to be a challenge!
Demonstrating my skills and experience was easy but to think on my feet (erm, I am sure I left bits of brain at home!) and convince potential employers I could “juggle it all” was a real challenge. I hadn’t really considered how much my perception of work had changed and my ability to convince, reassure and demonstrate what a working mum does was pretty difficult. I hadn’t prepared for it and that awkward questions around “hours”? Back then home working was a relatively new feature in some jobs and this was to offer me the flexibility I yearned for.
Thankfully my experience assisted me well and I was offered a few of the positions but with a caveat outlining my availability as and when needed. It came with the territory.
What resonates now and didn’t then was how much my priorities had truly shifted and how I meticulously had to communicate this. Being from a sales background I leapt into my pitch with some ease, but had a steep step ahead of me to convince.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that I am sure we will all find our feet and our way but for me I hadn’t factored in that within such a short space of time I had changed and I wasn’t approaching my career the same as before….I now had to perform my working life with an added responsibility…a”baby” and if I was to keep my position and my head above water I had to start pedalling and HARD!
Did you know that there are more working mums today, compared with over 15 years ago? Also, nearly the same percentage of women working with children is (66%) compared to women working without dependant children (67%). The gap between the two has narrowed significantly over the past 15 years.
A recent study carried out by the ONS – Office of National Survey, highlighted that more mums today are in fact working in full-time employment 29%, which is 6% higher than in 1996. This is almost a third of the entire female working population. In some respects, this increase in full-time working has become more accessible with higher quality and a varied choice of childcare, an increase in flexible friendly employment and the support of home-working.
Over this period mums working part-time hasn’t shifted either way, however this population was the higher percentage, 37% of the overall study. This I wouldn’t have thought was an unusual figure with many mums wanting to strive towards a “balance” between their family and employment. Since 1996 there have been steps encouraging parents to work and with improved parental pay and leave, introduction of “home-working”, a push for more flexible friendly employers and the right to request flexible working hours.
When you look at these facts and figures above, although there has been a constant drive for more flexible opportunities and attitudes, our working culture has actually shifted in the right direction which is a positive. I believe many working mums (including myself) would think there is still room for improvement, however when you look at what has been created for supporting working mums, this may now be eroded with cuts in childcare tax credits, job losses and the plans to abandon the right to request flexible working.
Will this reduce the number of working mums? I am inclined to think not as the appetite for mums to work is on the rise and as demonstrated even more mums are now working full-time. Let’s hear your thoughts..