A huge welcome to Jenna Maxwell, who joins the team here at The Find Your Flex Group.
Here she describes her experience of flexible working and why she see's flexible working as a right and not a privilege.
Flexible Working For All.
Flexible working should be for everyone. Having worked in rigid office environments as well as freelance from home, I firmly believe that most office-based jobs can be done around hours that suit the employee.
After graduating from university with a journalism degree in 2009, my first job was for a news agency where the core hours were 8am until 5pm. However, after being discreetly pulled aside by my boss while heading home one night at 5.30pm, I was told that I was expected to stay until ‘at least 7pm’ every night. For minimum wage. Although still in my early 20s and not confident enough to challenge these expectations, this was the first time I realised that the set-up was ridiculous. As a feature writer, I was willing to interview case studies from home in the evening. If I needed to and would happily file copy over the weekend. If I was willing to be flexible with my hours, why couldn’t it work both ways?
I left that job after a month and ended up with a steady array of PR and communications positions while keeping up my freelance writing on the side.
Even in companies where ‘flexible working’ was promoted, in my experience it’s only been in extreme circumstances where it’s been granted.
Squeezing Five Days Work Into Four!
Having my child was a real turning point in my career. I had a fairly senior in-house communications role when I had my little girl in 2015. I returned to it on a part-time basis of four days a week but, in reality, I was squeezing more than five days into four. As the perils of childcare dictate, some days grandparents would be unable to cover their usual day, but I was never allowed to ‘swap’ my Monday off to a Tuesday and had to stick rigidly to my allocated days.
It was this attitude which made me decide to leave structured employment and work mainly for myself. I was lucky and managed to land a two-day-a-week job at a very flexible company where home working and swapping days around doesn’t even need to be requested. I can manage my own time and it makes such a difference. But this attitude shouldn’t be reserved for parents - everyone should be entitled to flexible working hours.
Flexible Working Isn't Just For Parents.
Recently, someone I know mentioned how she’d love to have flexible hours but wouldn’t ask because she doesn’t have children. That attitude must change. Everyone should be entitled to flexible working and if the recent pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that most people are perfectly capable of doing their job from home. This should enable employers to offer flexibility to workers. Compressed hours, part-time and working from home should all be options for every worker, regardless of whether they have children or what stage they’re at in their career.
I hope that one day flexible working is an employees right and not a privilege.
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