Flexible working: let’s clean up the F-word
I f-ing LOVE the f-word.
The f-word is the reason that I’m able to work. It’s the reason I can continue to pay my rent and occasionally buy something expensive and ridiculous, like those little tubs of Ben & Jerry’s. It’s the reason I get to spend my days doing something that I enjoy and, quite frankly, am pretty good at.
The f-word is probably one of the most important words in my life right now, along with ‘seebum’. According to my toddler, ‘seebum’ is the best and funniest word in the world. It’s refers to bums, I assume. She’s not clear on the definition.
There are a lot of employers out there who don’t appreciate the f-word as much as I do. They hate to even bring it up, and feel kind of uncomfortable when people do.
But f them.
Some employers see flexible working as an employee perk that allows lazy employees to swan into the office whenever they want and ‘work from home’ on sunny days. They don’t see the other side of it:
The employees who are more productive at work because they’re not stressed about missing the nursery run or facing a long commute.
The employees who feel more loyal to an employer who recognises their need for work-life balance.
The talented employees who might have otherwise quit because they couldn’t make standard office hours work with their family life.
I’m one of those might-have-quit employees. Faced with stupidly-expensive full-time nursery fees and a work schedule that would have had me and my toddler home practically at her bedtime, I had a choice: stop working, or talk to my employer about flexible working options.
They wanted to keep me. I wanted to keep working. So we made it work.
I work four days a week, starting early and leaving by 4pm to pick up my daughter. We get home in time to have dinner and play for a few hours before she has to go to bed. I can work from home if I need to. When she gets sick, I can stay home with her, no questions asked. My employer gets that toddlers have questionable hygiene.
I may not be in the office until 6pm every day of the week, but when I’m there, I get shit done. Having flexible work options has, without question, made me a better employee.
Flexible working is good for business, and the Digital Mums #CleanUptheFWord campaign aims to make that clear.
They’re campaigning to change the government’s definition of flexible working from solely focusing on benefits the employee (“Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, eg having flexible start and finish times, or working from home”) to “Flexible working is a way of working that works for employees and businesses.”
Let’s face it – nothing is going to change as long as companies think of flexible working as something that they legally have to pay lip service to, rather than something that makes real business sense.
Sign the petition to #CleanUptheFWord. And, for f’s sake, let’s keep talking about this.