Categories
Flexible Working Lifestyle

The Four Day Working Week

The four day week has been touted as the “new better” for the way we work and is gaining widespread traction as a consequence of the game-changing coronavirus pandemic. A FindYourFlex survey found that 72% of respondents would welcome a four day week to turbocharge the economy with 28% against. But what does this actually entail? 

What Does A 4 Day Week Mean?

There are various forms of four day week. So, the FndYourFlex Survey further asked what kind of 4 day week people preferred.

  • Compressed schedule – complete five days of work in four, with no loss of salary. 78% favoured this approach.
  • Part-time model – work for four days and receive less pay. 18% of respondents gave this the thumbs up (4% were uncommitted to either compressed or part-time).
  • 32 hour week – more radical is the proposal made by John McDonnell of the Labour Party that the full-time working week should be lowered to 32 hours but without any loss of pay. 

A universal Monday to Thursday is unrealistic as we want to visit shops, museums, sporting venues and restaurants every day of the week, and care homes and emergency services operate round-the-clock. But the idea is that people can work differently outside the traditional norm.

Why Adopt A Shorter Week?

A truncated week is cited as offering a number of advantages as it may:

  • replenish physical resources – rest and/or leisure activities revitalise us;
  • boost mental well-being – stress and anxiety fall;
  • enhance relationships – more fulfilling time is spent with family and friends;
  • save the environment – less commuting erases part of our carbon footprint;
  • jump start volunteering – charities may see an upsurge in participation;
  • stabilise employment – redundancies are avoided by having all staff on reduced hours; 
  • widen the talent pool – those shut out by rigid timings can enter the job market;
  • capture loyalty – a talent retention mechanism to stop good workers from leaving; and 
  • cut overheads – if the office is shut for an extra day, running costs decrease. 

How Controversial Is A Shorter Week?

Objections are raised against four day patterns of whatever ilk. Flex requests have been refused for myriad reasons such as impractical personnel changes, higher costs, downgraded business performance, lower customer service, and/or the need for continuity over five days. 

But it is the 32 hour week, do-four-get-five, that is stirring particular controversy. Surely it is counter-intuitive to pay someone more for working fewer hours? Yet many of us are already paid to go on holiday through remunerated annual leave. The state offers statutory parental entitlements, sometimes topped up generously by employers, essentially paying people to look after their own children for a while. This is done because there are acknowledged social and health benefits that outweigh the pure economic expense. The ask of the 32 hour week is to push this concept one step further. 

32 Hour Week – How Much Does It Cost?

The battleground of the 32 hour week is the possible price tag associated with it. The NHS is often mentioned as a problematic situation. If you pay a nurse for five days instead of four, you must hire more staff since people are ill every day. The Conservative Party claims that the costs to the NHS would swell by £6.1 billion a year. Others assert that the NHS is a special case and not the yardstick by which to judge all sectors. 

Autonomy, a non-profit organisation, has stated that the cost of the 32 hour week is lower, as bald headline figures fail to factor in the gains from beneficial features such as reduced medical absence. As the Health and Safety Executive has estimated 57% of sick days are due to work-related stress, anxiety and depression, this is not to be ignored lightly. The difficulty is that several of the advantages, outlined earlier in this article, are not easy to quantify and are contentiously debated by those who champion one assessment methodology over another. 

What Next?

The part-time and compressed four day weeks, whilst not as widespread as they could be, are progressively being offered. However, even the most ardent proponents of the 32 hours option admit that adjustments will be incremental rather than an overnight phenomenon. There are likely to be a plethora of trial runs, setbacks and resistance. It may also not be viable in every instance. 

But it is worth remembering that changes that were initially seen as radical are accepted as standard practice. The 5 day week was once novel, annual leave was viewed as rewarding indolence, and maternity leave was regarded as an unnecessary self-indulgence. Now we expect these benefits. There is the potential to herald in a whole new future.

Categories
Career Change Careers

The Secret To A Successful Career Change

Guest Author – Leila Singh

Accredited Master Coach, Personal Brand Consultant, Corporate Trainer, TEDx Speaker, Award-Winning Author and Founder of The Authentic Leadership Academy™ and mi-brand™

Anything is possible!

If you had been with me during the summer of the year 2000, you would have seen me sitting at my desk in a large open-plan office, writing out a pros and cons list of what I wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy in my job, had a great manager and a good salary. And I had studied hard to gain my professional qualifications. Yet, I felt that I wanted more. Something was missing. Having carried out my due diligence, a couple of months later, you would find me sitting in a large meeting room, the goldfish bowl as we called it, because everyone could see in through the expanse of glass. Opposite me sat my manager, Peter.

“Recruitment??? But you have spent years working towards your accountancy career, and you are good at what you do, why would you throw that all away? Is it the money?”

“Not at all, in fact I am taking a 50% pay cut to do this…and I know it will work out…after all, what is the worst that can happen?”

A year or so later, sitting across from my Sales Director Steve, for my annual review, “Leila we took a risk on you, you had no relevant experience, and yet you have been our highest biller this year!”

Prior to this, I was the quiet diligent church mouse, who kept my head down and worked really hard; it was a manager during that time who had shared his advice “Leila, if you want to achieve your career aspirations, you need to make yourself known, so people that matter know who you are and what you do, and recognise your talents…”

I spent two years in recruitment – that time afforded me exponential personal and professional growth. It highlighted that 1) taking a risk and 2) taking myself so far outside my comfort zone, enabled me to realise what is possible, as well as my potential, strengths, and to cultivate the confidence and self-belief I had never had.

Following redundancy, I was offered an opportunity in a global technology firm; I jumped at it, as the company had a great reputation. The role? Nothing I had ever done before. Corporate Finance; designing and implementing change, negotiating multi-$M contracts with investment banks and lenders, as well as establishing and managing a significant financing portfolio across the EMEA region. My confidence, desire to win, willingness to take risks, ask questions and learn fast, held me in good stead. I built a strong network across the business and was influential in achieving results.

After six years, we were acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), where I was offered two opportunities; A Sales Executive or a Treasury Consultant role. I opted for the latter, as this complemented the previous role and enhanced my skills further. After 15 months, I transitioned to the Sales Executive role. During my tenure in this role of almost 10 years, I delivered a little shy of $1bn of business.

The Secret To Successful Career Changes.

You may be asking, what is my secret to successfully transitioning through different careers?

It comprises the following.

  • Believing that I can achieve anything I put my mind to (someone once told me this, and it is so true).
  • Going over and above in my delivery and performance at all levels, be that internal or external clients,
  • Being resilient to the challenges I encountered and never giving up.
  • Not being afraid to ask questions, whilst being a quick learner.
  • Building strong professional relationships, whilst showing up authentically and showing a genuine interest in others.
  • My desire to stand out and make a difference, and be a role model for others.
  • Maintaining high standards consistently in all that I do

And today?

I am the Founder and CEO of my own business, where I coach, mentor and train ambitious career professionals to accelerate their career, through establishing their personal brand, resulting in greater visibility, impact, and performance.

Six years earlier, whilst still a sales executive, working no less than 60 hours a week, I began to immerse myself even further into my personal growth journey; I trained and qualified as a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy. I went on to join a Professional Speakers Academy to refine my speaking and presentation skills; an academy for which I now mentor others. I became an Accredited Master Coach as well as an L&D Trainer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (yes, this was also alongside my job). I wrote and published my book, Success Redefined – How to Leverage Your Natural Talents to be Limitless” in 2015. I also did a board break with my hand, walked on hot coals and on broken glass. I attended various events and training sessions with Anthony Robbins. I invested heavily in myself – money, time, and energy, surrounding myself with the best coaches and mentors, to continue to learn and grow and to be able to show up for my clients as the best version of myself.

I chose to leave HPE at the end of 2018 and embark on this next chapter of my life. Yes it has been challenging, leaving behind my corporate identity, the structure, the salary and the corporate benefits of a large organisation, to live in a world of uncertainty, and yet it is a life of freedom, choice, risks, celebrations and massive personal growth.

Embracing A Growth Mindset.

Growth never stops; this is one of my core values, alongside [personal] leadership and authenticity. And I am proud to say that my biggest accomplishment to date is becoming a TEDx Speaker in 2019.

If you are thinking, “I want change, but…” consider this;

1. When I went through my first career transition, from accountant to recruitment consultant, having just given notice, within a matter of days, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and as a consequence, overnight had become paralysed from the waist down. What should I do? I could have very easily chosen to stay in the finance role, something that I knew and was settled in. Yet I went ahead with the transition, whilst for the first several months, supporting my mother in adapting to her newfound restricted and tragic situation, dealing with the emotions of the situation, and being her primary carer alongside my father.

2. On the same day my mother was diagnosed, I was due to move out of home, having purchased my first place, having simultaneously agreed to taking a 50% pay cut…I believed it would work itself out – and it did.

3. I spent sixteen years of my career in the technology sector, as a woman of colour, in a male dominated environment. I did not experience imposter syndrome, nor feel that I was treated differently from my colleagues.

Why? Because my focus was on me, my desire to stand out for the right reasons, over-performing, and consistently maintaining high professional standards.

What would I say are the key ingredients needed for a successful career transition?

ABC: Attitude, Belief and Commitment (I might add: Consistency, Diligence and EQ 

Leila Singh

Leila Singh FCCA is an Accredited Master Coach, Personal Brand Consultant, Corporate Trainer, TEDx Speaker, Award-Winning Author and Founder of The Authentic Leadership Academy™ and mi-brand™

You can learn more about Leila at www.leilasingh.com and connect with her on Linkedin.

Thank you to Leila for providing us with an in depth view of her career decisions and changes. Very inspirational.

If you liked this post then you may also like this post from guest author Didier Penine – ‘Going Self Employed’.

Look out for future blogs and tips for navigating a career change.

Categories
Career Change Careers

Going Self Employed

By Didier Penine

Which Career?

For as long as I can remember I have never had a clear idea of the career I wanted, and this was reflected in my university degree as I chose the subject I was best at which was French due to my background. During my degree I realised I needed something to go with my degree so I did a postgraduate in business management to give me further options.

I found a graduate program with an electrical wholesaler, I was there for a good 10 years and earned a few promotions until I was in a head office role negotiating rebates and sales worth large sums and on paper it looked a good position. Throughout my time there I had a niggly feeling that it wasn’t right for me, and I put it down to not pursuing a career that related to my interests.

A Change Of Career

Through redeveloping my own home I gained a strong interest in buildings, and I decided that changing careers had to be done to pursue a career in construction. Having done a great deal of research I decided that Quantity Surveying would be the idea role and duly did my distance learning and gained a first class degree from the College of Estate Management.

Within a month of being there, that feeling of dissatisfaction was there again, and it quickly grew to a level greater than I had ever experienced. The people around me were incredibly helpful and supportive and really nice people, however my dissatisfaction was mounting on a daily basis and I could so no escape. This caused great mental anguish as I had spent a considerable amount of time and money to be in the position that I wanted, yet I felt trapped and was unhappier than I had ever felt before. The realisation then dawned on that I needed to be self-employed.

My first roles after graduated offered a certain amount of freedom as they were largely sales/managerial type roles. Quantity surveying was quite the opposite, I found it very restrictive, very constrained and every part of the role was bound by procedure and regulations which stifled my natural desire to do my own thing.

Going Self Employed

For a good 12 years or so I had kept toying with the idea of being self-employed, I had considered being a property developer, however I was apprehensive about the cash required to set up the businesses, plus my property skills weren’t quite there. My other thought was to set up a personalised Champagne business – clearly this quite niche but there is some logic to my desire, My family produce Champagne in Festigny, France and when I got married my dad brought over about 30 bottles of wedding themed Champagne themed around our big day, and as soon as I saw them it was kind of a lightbulb moment, I was instantly drawn to setting up a personalised Champagne business.

As much as I wanted to set up the business, I was apprehensive about quitting a guaranteed salary for doing so. I considered the Champagne business when applying for the construction distance learning but opted for the Quantity Surveying being the safer option. It was when I felt despondent in my quantity surveying career that I realised I had to go for it, and piece by piece I began putting it all together.

This was quite daunting of course as I had no contacts or even any experience in the industry in the UK. Apart from having a family that produces Champagne I was going into it totally cold, however I felt certain there was merit in the idea and that is how Say It With Champers was born. The business is now a year old and we cater for both businesses and the general public, and in terms of job satisfaction I have never been happier than I am currently. Being a startup I earn far less than I did before, luckily the loss-making months are behind me and I can focus on growing and developing the business.

A Career Change Can Be Full Of Hurdles

With hindsight I probably didn’t appreciate how long it takes to build a new business up, the hours I have worked have been much more than previous roles, and in the early days I would be doing crazy hours months only to earn a loss, which of course made me question my decision. I kept at it and a few strokes of luck came my way, now I have confidence that the business will succeed, but of course it was a risk. The definition of whether it has been a success or not would depend on the point of view. In purely financial terms then it hasn’t as the amount earned this year will be much less than previous years. For the future however I believe there is great potential, everyone in the country has birthdays, many people celebrate mother’s/father’s day, anniversaries, weddings and so on. We are also providing mini Prosecco which is perfect as wedding favours and so on.

For the corporate side I have made some great customers with football clubs and gold clubs, and of course it takes time to build things up. You carry on doing the things that work, and stop doing the things that don’t, learning by trial and error is part of the process unfortunately. I feel very optimistic about the future and I have never been happier, so to my the change has been a success, I think with any business you need to give it time and not expect it to be an overnight success.

“Changing careers is a very daunting thing to do…”

Changing careers is a very daunting thing to do, for me I really hated going to work, and when I made the decision I was 35 with another 30 years work ahead of me. I just couldn’t face the prospect of wishing away every day and hoping for the weekend for the remainder of my working career. With any of these decisions you need to be able to have the financial means to pay for the degree, potential loss of earnings (as you may be starting at the bottom of the ladder again). For those who are looking to start a business, this of course has even greater risk, in reality you have to almost write off a year without a salary, and if you can afford that plus the cost of setting the business up, then it may well be an option worth taking.

Didier penine from say it with champers

It all comes down to personality and the choices you have made in your teenage years. Your A level choices will influence your degree choice, which in turn necessarily influence your choice of career. People will often find themselves stumbling into a career that may not necessarily suit them, and of course every year that goes past, the harder it feels to take the plunge and change careers. Many people I knew were dissatisfied with the jobs and careers, and in my experience this became more pronounced when people hit their 30’s.

A change can be a good thing, a lot depends on your individual circumstance such as personality, finances and so on. Granted not every career change will be a success as I experienced myself, however it can be very rewarding for some. 

In my opinion if you are thinking about changing careers to another industry, then go for it – the risk is relatively low and as long as you leave on good terms you will likely be able to go back to your old organisation or industry if it wasn’t. Changing careers to start a business needs more thought, a clear plan and a solid financial footing are imperative if this is being considered.

Thank you to Didier for providing us with a detailed journey through his career decisions.

If you are considering a career change then you may be find this blog interesting too: ‘The Secret To A Successful Career Change’ .

Also look out for future posts on tips and resources to help you navigate a career change or pivot.

Categories
Business Careers Lifestyle Parental

Is Career Coaching as Good as Therapy?

Most people
hit a rough patch at a certain point in their lives and they feel lost,
overwhelmed, and confused.

The pressure
of such a slump additionally magnifies if you’re an entrepreneur who has to run
a business and make tough decisions on a daily basis. No wonder that many
business owners have too much on their plate, which leads to stress, anxiety,
and depression.

A research
study has shown that 72% of entrepreneurs are affected by mental
health issues directly or indirectly.

But, regular
employees also have their fair share of stress resulting from work. A highly
competitive workplace paired with increased expectations

If we add a kid or two to this entire
equation, it’s perfectly clear that working mothers and mompreneurs have an
even greater deal of workload, stress, and pressure to handle. Moreover, if
growing pains of your business and your kids coincide, you’ll most probably end
up exhausted and completely drained.

One way out of
this is seeking professional help, but it can be a bit confusing when it comes
to choosing between career coaching and therapy.

That’s why
it’s important to discuss the benefits of these two approaches and establish
which one can do the trick.

Career Coaching vs Therapy?

The thing is
that, although similar and partially overlapping, these two fields are
intrinsically different. It’s true that your career represents a big part of
your life, and as such has the power to affect your mental health to a great
extent. 

In other
words, you might even consider taking up both a career coach and a therapist to
work on different aspects of your personal and professional life.

The main
distinction between career coaching and therapy lies in the fact that the
former helps you manage your career and its challenges regardless of how deep
it tackles the issue. On the other hand, the main goal of therapy is to improve
your mental health and resolve some underlying issues that have been bothering
you.

Also, while
therapy might take years, as it’s essential to unearth and uncover some hidden
negative thought patterns, career coaching can be time-limited and focused on
practical work. A career coach can help you develop the
necessary skills for job search, learn more about your strengths, and deal with
workplace issues.

Benefits of Career Coaching

Now that we’ve
established that you can greatly benefit from both career coaching and therapy,
let’s examine what individual advantages of both approaches are.

  • Career
    coaching will help you recognize your own professional value. This can be
    pretty challenging, as people sometimes aren’t sure what their actual
    professional worth is, especially after losing their job or having been
    rejected after numerous job interviews. Similarly,
    going back to work after maternity leave can be more difficult than people
    imagine. Maybe the company you work for underwent some changes while you were
    away, not to mention that many new moms feel anxiety over what they are
    returning to. Career coaching will offer you an
    insight into what your particular skill sets and abilities are, and help you
    articulate them properly while negotiating a job or salary. Also, with
    proper coaching, you’ll learn how to leave your fears aside and focus your
    energy on your job and caring for your baby.
  • With career
    coaching, it will be much easier to overcome the difficulties of a change or make some big decisions. For example, if you’re
    wondering whether it’s the right time to quit your 9-to-5 job and embark on an
    entrepreneurial journey, a career coach will point you in the right direction.
  • One of the
    most important purposes of career coaching is to keep you accountable and
    motivated, as well as to push you to reach your full potential. Your career
    coach will monitor your progress towards reaching your goals, keep things in
    check, and make sure that you’re following your plan. This way, the likelihood
    of straying from your career path is minimized.
  • It’s
    essential to make the right career choices and pick what’s best for you in the
    long term, and a career coach will take both your personality, professional
    skills, and wishes into consideration when helping you navigate
    the workplace landscape and your own career path.

Benefits of Therapy 

Even if you’re
not facing some life-altering challenges or traumatic events, the truth is that
all of us could use a little help and support when it comes to coping with
everyday stress and everything that life throws at us.

Research
studies have shown that even the act of verbalizing your feelings can have a therapeutic
effect on your brain. The power of this simple tactic is multiplied if you’re
talking to a professional who is trained to listen to your story and help you
articulate, channel, and manage your feelings.

Sometimes our
own personal issues prevent us from succeeding, which means that it’s essential
to fix them before you can see any career improvement.

Therapy can be
highly beneficial for some of the following workplace situations:

  • Help you
    cope with workplace-related stress and anxiety. If you feel that you’re headed
    for burnout or that your current job situation is making you feel miserable,
    it’s a good idea to talk to a therapist and see what you can do to improve it.
  • Asking for
    a raise. Although a career coach can be instrumental in helping you get the
    best deal, a therapist can work from another, deeper level, and remove certain
    mental barriers that prevent you from talking to your boss. If you’re too shy
    or can’t accept rejection, therapy is essential, while you can figure out the
    right script and other details with a career coach.
  • Dealing
    with an office bully. Not everyone can confront a toxic person without getting
    upset. Therapy can help you build a defense mechanism and muster up the courage
    to have your say clearly and loudly.
  • Improve
    your self-esteem. All the issues mentioned above stem from the lack of
    self-esteem. By understanding your own feelings bringing out your insecurities
    out in the light, you can work towards becoming more confident in yourself. This is particularly effective if you’ve lost confidence over your
    work performance and skills – which is nothing strange if you are away for a
    while on maternity leave. If you start drowning in self-doubt, you should
    remember that it’s probably just your hormones and fatigue speaking, and
    therapy will help you learn coping and relaxation mechanisms.

So, Is Career Coaching as
Good as Therapy? 

It’s better to
ask yourself which one of these two professionals you should hire in order to
improve your life.

You might even
decide that working with both will help you grow personally and professionally.

What’s the
most important factor is, however, finding a career coach who’s keeping pace
with the latest trends in psychology and the workplace. That should be a person
who’s capable of guiding you towards becoming the best version of yourself.

Here’s what
you should pay attention when choosing a career coach: 

  • Do they
    belong to a coaching organization? This will prove that they meet certain
    standards of the profession.
  • Ask them
    for their resume or professional biography, so that you can check whether the
    program they completed in order to obtain a certificate is legitimate.
  • Even if a
    certain career coach has a license to practice psychotherapy, it’s better to
    find some other practitioner to treat your potential mental health issues. It
    should be stressed that these two approaches work great in conjunction – just make sure to
    distinguish your sessions and work on your mental/business goals separately.
  • Ask for
    client references. You should talk to some of the people they worked with and
    understand why their approach is effective. In a nutshell, it’s not enough to
    simply read testimonials on the site.
  • Discuss
    their coaching philosophy. As career coaching, just like therapy, is a delicate
    matter, it’s essential to find someone whose values and philosophy are aligned
    with yours.

It’s safe to
say that career coaching is as good as therapy, but by no means can we say that
these two practices can be used interchangeably, or that one can be used
instead of the other. Depending on what you want to work on and improve, you
can choose either career coaching or therapy, but these two also form a
powerful synergy.

Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working

Flexible Working At Oxbotica

We Are Powered By Our People.

At Oxbotica we take great pride in our team. We create a space where everyone is welcome, heard, and celebrated for their strengths. We’re driven by challenge and a commitment to make our employees experience as dynamic and rewarding as we can.

Furthermore, as we build a global business together, we are steered by our experience, insight of an entire team and guided by strong and approachable leadership.

Oxbotica support a healthy work-life balance, in part by offering flexible working and plenty of social engagements open to the whole team. We regularly share our vision, targets and company updates with everyone, including remote workers. Oxbotica believe that an engaged workforce is more productive and positive.

As we grow internationally our values and culture are fundamental in keeping us on track and moving in the right direction. Therefore, our people embody these values. They trust us to provide strong leadership, a secure environment and opportunities for growth. We trust them to contribute their energy and expertise to move the business forward.

What Our Employees Say…

  • “If there is a problem to solve, I acknowledge that I don’t know everything – and I don’t try to know everything. Instead, I surround myself with the best people. I canvass opinions from the experts – my team – and pick the answer that gets the job done.”
  • “There is a real sense of community and a very healthy attitude towards things like flexible working. This honest environment encourages accountability and creates a safe space for opening up and asking questions.”
  • “The team is full of clever people. We embrace the challenge of scaling to a global company together”
  • “It’s easy to have a say – everyone wants your opinion.”

Join Oxbotica

Join the brains behind the software that lets every vehicle do more.

Changing the way we move people and goods takes talent, dedication and a united team. Our rapidly growing company includes world-class engineers, technical leaders and commercial masterminds, who are tackling exciting challenges collaboratively and creatively every day.

We develop technology that will touch on the operation of every industry across the globe. As a company we work to create a safer future for both people and the planet. Our team members are people that share our values and drive to make an impact, as we create the future of autonomy.

Flexibility

We create the conditions to help you do your best. Therefore, we do all we can to create opportunities for everyone regardless of personal circumstances. As part of this commitment, we offer a variety of flexible working arrangements including:

  • Part time working
  • Remote working
  • Extended parental leave
  • Unpaid sabbatical

We work 37.5 hours a week, Monday – Friday around core hours of 10:00 – 16:00. This is enough for most; but if you require any extra flexibility we will do what we can to support you.

To see our Current Vacancies click HERE

Categories
Business Flexible Working Industry Flexers

We Found Our Flex …By Creating And Championing A Flexible Working Culture

Flexible and remote working. A guest blog from the team at RedWizard – Project, Change & Transformation Experts.

RedWizard And Flex

At RedWizard, we’re not just a team, we’re a strong community of remote and flexible workers. And we believe flexible working should be a basic human right. Why? Because, for the majority of people, it improves their overall health and wellbeing. It’s been proven to reduce stress and increase job satisfaction. Time spent on trains and buses can now be spent with family and friends. There’s more time for exercise, mindful meditation and preparing healthy food. It also means avoiding toxins like exhaust fumes when commuting. Not only that, it’s a cost-cutter with fewer travel expenses and work clothes required… and the list goes on! 

Flexible—It’s Not Just A Word, It’s One Of Our Core Values.

Being flexible is one of our core values–along with being bold, loyal, warm and quirky—they make us who we are and help us to create the future we want to experience. So, we’ve said goodbye to 9-5 and hello to a flexible future!

Control? We Hand It Over And Trust 

Our approach to creating a flexible working culture is to trust our people and hand over control. We focus on what’s being delivered—the outcome. How our people get there is completely up to them. We hire them to do a job, we give them control and don’t micromanage—in other words, we TRUST them! 

By taking this approach, the entire RedWizard community is driven, productive, innovative, passionate about their own work, and inspired by our collective vision and purpose-led mission. Challenges change and change challenges Implementing real flexibility and remote working has its challenges. But… like all businesses, we were born to change! And we take a very human approach. From technology to health and wellbeing, we work together to ensure the entire RedWizard community gets the support they need and remains connected. We do this by keeping pace with new technology and running weekly ‘Good to Connect’ meetings–giving everyone a chance to open up and share if they wish. We listen and care about each other. There’s always someone available for an online chat and a cuppa!

Benefits? You Bet… For Us And Our Clients

Our flexible culture has had a positive impact on the services we provide our clients and our own internal processes, functions and working lives. And having the ability to work in a way that’s right for us—on an individual basis—means we’ve time to live our lives in a meaningful way. We’re more creative, innovative and far more productive as a result. 

What Does It Mean For Our Clients?

Because we all work remotely our overhead is low. This means we can pass the savings on to our clients and remain competitive in the marketplace—making us small, but mighty. With a clear and proven methodology, which we call our Big Four—people, communications, insight, agility—we’re able to accommodate global working across different time zones, we just take time off during the day. 

Our business has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, and we believe our approach to remote and flexible working has played a major role. It’s enabled us to attract some exceptional talent—people who share our values and recognise the benefits of flexible and remote working. As a result, our numbers are growing, we’ve more interest in our services. And we’ve even been shortlisted for the Project Management Institute (PMI) UK National Project Awards, in the category of ‘PMO of the Year’. It’s an exciting time for us all. 

Hey, It Works For Us!

Flexible and remote working is a hot topic at the moment, and opinions across industries are uniting and dividing. Some say it’s great for health and wellbeing, others say it’s harmful. Some say it increases productivity, others say it’s too distracting. Whatever you want to believe, you’re bound to find something on the internet to back up your argument—although it may not always be supported by evidence! 

But… 

We can say with confidence, flexible and remote working has worked for us, is working for us, and will continue to work for us. We believe it’s the future—and should be a basic human right. We’ve more on this topic If you found our approach to flexible and remote working of interest, you may find some of our other articles on this subject of interest too. So please, join the conversation, visit our blog and feel free to like and share any of our articles.

Video: Hear how flexible and remote working impacts RedWizard’s founder and CEO, and online community.

RedWizard Your community of project, change and transformation experts.

Think of us as your very own project, change or transformation management office with decades of experience. We’ll help you identify the right support model for your business and help you evolve that model as your business changes. Our story

Red Wizard Consulting Logo, flexible and remote working supporters

Want to read more about the companies who are flying the flag for flexible working? Check these out…

Hilti – Helping You Find Your Flex

Royal London – Helping You Find Your Flex

Badenoch + Clark – The Rise Of The Flex Working, Flex Supporting Rec Cons

A HR Journey With Pitney Bowes

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Industry Flexers Technology Industry

Why Coding Makes A Great Flexible Career For Mums

Time To Consider Coding

When thinking about your flexible work options, have you ever considered coding?

You might have not heard of coding before, but you interact with code every day.

All the websites and apps you use have been built by code. Essentially, code is a set of rules and instructions that we give to a computer which bridges the gap between human language and computer language.

Everyone has the ability to learn to code, you don’t necessarily need to be a math genius or a ‘techie’. All you need is the motivation to learn and time to practice.

Below, are five reasons why coding makes a rewarding and flexible career.

1. Lose The 9-5 And Be In Charge Of Your Working Hours

How about no longer working 9-5?

All you need to code is a laptop and some good wifi! Many coding jobs can be done remotely either at home, in a cafe or even in another country! You can work the hours that suit you- so you’ll able to go to parent’s evening or be there for the school run. After progressing into a fully fledged developer you could work in house for a company, a web agency or as a freelancer with a range of clients that interest you.

2.  Learn An In-Demand Skill

There’s currently a huge digital skills gap; employers are looking to hire people who can code and have a technical understanding. As our world becomes more and more digital, the number of tech jobs is increasing. This report found there are over 7 million jobs which require coding skills and programming jobs overall are growing 12% faster than the market average. You’ll have a constant supply of jobs to apply for and chose from.

3.  Enjoy A Rewarding Career In Coding

Let’s be honest, not all flexible working options are rewarding. Coding definitely is.

At first learning to code may seem daunting, a bit like learning a new language, but you’ll soon start to realise how it all pieces together and that is a hugely rewarding feeling. You can’t help but feel proud after you’ve built your first proper web page- something you’ve written, now lives online!

Coding With 23 Code Street
23 Code Street

4.  Make Use Of Your Whole Skill Set With Coding

Coding allows you to combine your old and new skills- so you won’t feel like your previous skills have been forgotten. You’ll be able to use skills you’ve developed in previous jobs and other experiences to help you – like problem-solving, basic maths, an eye for detail, communicating and the ability to Google!

Also learning to code can be a good way to upskill in your current profession and get a new role or promotion. For example, lots of marketers and designers are learning to code to be able to edit websites and newsletters and work alongside tech teams with confidence. By being technically skilled, this will give you a competitive edge and make you stand out to employers.

5.  Feel Empowered and Empower Others With Coding

Tech is seriously lacking women. Globally 88% of developers are men; this is having a huge impact on the products and services being released- for example, Apple released a health app without a period tracker on.  By learning to code, you ’ll be helping create a more gender-balanced tech industry, smashing gender stereotypes and inspiring the next generation of girls to work in tech.

Coding Group, 23 Code Street
23 Code Street

23 Code Street is a coding school for all women. For every paying student, they teach digital skills to a disadvantaged woman in the slums of Mumbai.

Join their webinar course for beginners starting on the 10th July and learn to code in 12 weeks through weekly webinars in a friendly and supportive environment. You’ll develop a strong foundation in web development including how to build websites and apps for the web and work on your own practical projects. The course costs £550- find out more and apply here.

If you want to learn more about women in technology, then check out our other blog posts in this series. Read about The Fourth Industrial Revolution & What It Can Offer Flexers / Career Changers / Parents.


Categories
Lifestyle Parental

My Dad, voted HouseWife of the year in the late 80’s

Whilst the rest of the world has transformed over the last 38 years, accepting Dad’s as full-time parents hasn’t, and neither has the way the Government perceive Shared Parental Leave. So, let’s stop giving allowances to the rich, and start giving equality to parents.

38 Years Later And No (real) Change

I was born In September 1980 and my parents had made a decision that my Dad would be the ‘stay-at-home’ parent whilst my Mum worked and continued to develop her career.  This worked for them, and based on what I know now, took some courage to do, but a lot of society was, and it appears still is, uncomfortable when it comes to Dad’s being the ones to stay at home.

For me, it was normal, and it continued until my younger sister started primary school.  I have a half-brother from my Dad’s first marriage, but in the family home, there was myself, my younger brother (18 months my junior) and my younger sister (3 years my junior). 

As a slight aside at this point, my brother and I were not what you would call planned my sister however was.  And you might think that any parents would be out of their mind to actually choose to have three children under three, however there was a reason.  At the time, and seemingly totally acceptable in the early 80’s, my Mum was told that if she wanted her promotion and was planning on having any more children, she should complete her family quickly so as not to hinder her career progression – and so my sister came along soon after.

And so, my Dad was at home with three young children and my Mum went out to work.  As a child, this was our normal.  I don’t remember thinking anything of it until I was seven and we moved back to my Mum’s hometown of Peterborough.  Before we moved, I remember my Dad volunteering at the nursery, and then walking me to school.  I remember our conversations with the lollipop lady at the school crossing and that I went to Paul’s house after school (a childminder where I had egg sandwiches almost every day and my Mum would pick me up on her way home from work).

A Stereotypical Gender Role Reversal

My Dad worked part-time in a local pub to help with some of the money as well as helping out at the nursery.  It was very much a stereotypical gender role reversal compared to most families.  The only thing I ever remember as being ‘different’ was walking across the road every morning to the house on the corner to have my bum length chocolate brown hair plaited, or ponytailed by a neighbour – my Dad had never gotten used to the hair, which probably explains why my sisters was never even when we moved to Peterborough.

When I started primary school, I was in top reading sets, and would often get cornered by parents at birthday parties who would quiz me about my reading level.  By year two in Mrs Samuel’s class I was on books from higher years.

My Dad’s focus was on the three of us instead of washing breakfast or lunch dishes, something I remember always being an argument when my Mum walked in from work whilst I watched Lassie and Gentle Ben.

But by the time we started school we could all read, write, do basic times tables and basic adding.  We knew our complete alphabet and could tie our shoes.  Dad made a shoe from cardboard and tied laces through it to help make it easier than actual shoes.

Given that three children and one salary was quite expensive, my Dad would make my Mum ‘presents’ from wooden lolly stick and he would burn messages to my Mum in them using my Grandads wood burning kit.  He would also write poems to cereal and chocolate companies and we would receive gifts and treats by way of pens, cereal bowls, cereal boxes and boxes full of chocolate as a reward for my Dad’s ingenuity.

This was life, this was our life and perhaps given my age, the comments and looks that I noticed as I grew older, were there, but I was just too young to realise.  But I don’t recall anything being abnormal until I was seven and we moved.

And Then We Noticed We Were Different…

We moved to Peterborough in the summer holidays on 1987. I was seven just a week into my new school and our new life, my younger brother was also at school.

This was when I noticed people asking why my Dad walked me to school every day.  He continued to work at the local nursery as he had before we moved and so many of the parents got to know him early on.  He also when my sister also started school would work as a lunchtime supervisor, a ‘dinner-lady’ and the kids would call him ‘Miss’, until my Dad convinced them all to call him Barrie.

And all of a sudden, all of the kids knew Barrie. All of the kids would wave at him and run over to say hello if they saw my Dad whilst we were out and about – but sometimes I would get asked what was wrong with my Dad and why didn’t he work.  I didn’t know how to respond to this – I didn’t know what they were getting at.

My Dad cooked dinner every-day and it was ready on the table every night when my Mum came in.  I remember arguments when my Mum came in late as we weren’t allowed to eat until she came home, but we would have to sit at the table from the time it was ready.

Housewife Of The Year

My Dad was the disciplinarian, the homestay, and my Mum the breadwinner.  My Dad won ‘housewife of the year’ in the late 80’s and the full page spread in our local newspaper of my Dad with the vacuum in the living room, got even more people talking. 

They say that yesterday’s news becomes tomorrow’s chip paper, but everyone seemed to remember this in our local community.  Barrie the housewife was a well-known celebrity in the local community, and even now the Swingler children are remembered by many teachers.

As the three of us got older, my Dad did a bit more locally. He was Chair of the lone parent advisory service given his organisation skills, he took on more duties at church, and at nursery, and at lunchtimes. This was our life.  He studied when my parents could afford it and when my sister was older, and it made financial sense, my Dad went into a full-time job. However, he hated it but it was what was needed.

In 1999, my parents moved house and when I was visiting one day I was in the kitchen talking to my Dad and a young child fell off their bike in front of their house.  I thought my dad would fly out of the front door – but his reaction was one of stillness with a sadness in his eyes.  Nobody in this new area knew Barrie, and the last thing he would want is to be accused of something untoward by a child he didn’t know.

Not A ‘Real Man’

But this was my Dad.  This was Barrie the housewife, the dinner-lady and the nursery teacher, but not in this new area.  He knew what people had thought about a man who spent so much time with young children whilst his wife went to work, and whilst I knew we shouldn’t talk to strangers, my Dad had never been the stranger.

And at that time, we had a frank conversation about some of the comments that had been made about him for being the one to stay at home.  He had been referred to many times as not being a ‘real man’, simply because real men didn’t stay at home. He had been asked about why he and wife decided this on this strange arrangement and what his motives were for spending so much with kids. 

But he had done what he could to fit around looking after the three of us whilst keeping himself busy and earning a bit of pocket money – the same as any mum may do in the same position.  And I felt more grateful for the way we had been brought up.

2005 And Not Much Has Changed

In 2005 I met a HRD I had been speaking to for quite some time and over coffee she told me she had an ‘odd thing going at home’ – of course I got curious.  By ‘odd’ she meant, that as the main breadwinner she worked, and her husband stayed at home with the kids – we talked a lot about my own experience and how I didn’t find it odd at all.  She shared the tough conversations, the looks and comments that she had her husband got, and the advances that her husband got frequently when he naively thought he was just going on a playdate with the kids.

2019, It’s Slightly Better But Still Dad’s Still Face Stigma For Being A Stay At Home Dad

It’s now 2019, and from what I heard at #TheBigConversation, the judgement of at home Dad’s or those families that split these duties, are still seen as odd – why is parenting odd?  It’s been happening for a very, very long time.

There is nothing odd in Dad’s looking after their children, but whilst I still hear people talking about Dad’s babysitting their kids on nights when the Mums are out – its culture and stereotypes that have to change. 

The Role Of Shared Parental Leave In Challenging Gender Stereotypes

Two of my coaching clients have embraced shared parental leave and it’s ended with the Mum’s going back to work and the Dad’s staying at home.  It works for them, but the comments and the looks continue.

My older brother and his partner are embracing shared parental leave, my sister-in law is taking six months off work and my brother the next three months.  It is normal, yet lots of people assume it’s laziness on his part.  Anyone who has been at home with a six-month-old knows there is nothing lazy about it, and we certainly wouldn’t say that to any Mum.

I don’t have an answer, but I can say, that my stereotype of genders growing up was that we are equal – my view of the world is different to a lot of people I know.  And if that’s all that comes out of Dads being at home, then even that would make it worth it.

But the reality, is that whatever is right for you and your family, is the reality you create for your kids.  Thus, whatever is right for your kids shouldn’t be questioned or judged by anyone else.

As a working Mum I’ve had my fair share of judgement myself – and to be frank it is none of any else’s business what I choose to do, and it’s also none of my business what anyone else thinks of me.

Because whilst the rest of the world has transformed over the last 38 years, accepting Dad’s as full-time parents hasn’t, and neither has the way the Government perceive Shared Parental Leave.  So, let’s stop giving allowances to the rich, and start giving equality to parents.

Now Is The Time For Change

So, my plea, let’s encourage parents to be with their kids and play an active role. Society needs to stop eye rolling the Dads who are at home and the Mum’s who are at work.  Let’s stop looking at the Dad’s like unemployed bums and accept their role as parents.  Parents, parent your own way, in whatever way you choose. Let’s turn our attention to our own families and what’s right for us.

Kelly

Author, speaker, coach, rebel and heart-centred people leader, Kelly is changing the world of work and helping HR professionals do things differently and add more value.

Founder and Rulebreaker at The Chrysalis Crew, she rips up the rule book and helps people create what’s best for them, their teams and their organisations – not what’s best for their competitors.

She’s Mum to twin sons and step-Mum to two sons – a busy home, a busy business and a busy life, but one that’s totally worth it.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working

Becoming A Virtual Assistant (VA)

Guest Post

A Guest Post from Christine Southam, Virtual Personal Assistant and owner of CS Virtual Assistant.

I had spent a number of years in Higher Education in Estates & Facilities Management; Local Government as PA to two Managers in Islington. I then worked in Berlin at an Architects’ firm and then in Business Development for Market Research before returning to London for my dream job as PA to the Executive Director of a European environmental organisation. I was disappointed when My ED announced he would be stepping down as we had a great relationship and I knew that it would move to our Brussels based office. So, I decided to follow my long-term dream of opening my own business and becoming a Virtual Assistant. 

It made sense to carry on utilising all the experience I had gained over a decade of working just transferring it to a home office. I decided that becoming a Virtual Assistant ticked all the boxes!

Here Are My Top Tips For Becoming A Virtual Assistant

I believe having your own desk and work space is important and preferably with a lovely view and natural light as you may end up spending a significant amount of time there. Then cover your back by investing in insurances and registrations. These are just some of the costs to consider before you begin:

These will be your outgoings and it’s important to know how much you will need to earn per week or month to afford these costs.

The VA is not a regulated industry so hourly rates, quality of work and how securely personal data is handled varies greatly.

Christine Southam working on lap top at a desk

Marketing Yourself

I set about getting myself visible with a website and a Facebook page (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook groups and LinkedIn).  Without the traffic to your sites you won’t be getting noticed. 

  1. Communicate your expertise. If people believe you are an expert when it comes to looking for solutions or choosing someone, they are going to pick the expert.  
  2. Know your moral and your ethical values. For example: the way you respond to a customer complaint.
  3. It’s a referral-based market. Everyone will look at your reviews of what other people think of you not what you think of yourself.

Personal Development

Putting aside time for personal development is really important and the skills you learn on the job should not be under estimated. 

Consider investing in some professional development such as website building or social media training so it can become a service that you offer yourself. 

You will also be learning on the job about self-assessment tax returns, credit control such as chasing late payers and Human Resources related matters such as contracts, on-boarding Clients and Associates. 

Since running my own business, I have developed business set up and operating skills which empower me to assist other business owners more effectively.

Getting Started

I gained my first client within 3 months of opening, it’s a different experience for everyone. It could take you longer or you could arrive on the scene already with a few clients. 

Word of mouth, recommendations and contacting your existing network of business contacts could be a very strong way of getting started. 

Learning Lessons

Through a local community-based website, I contacted a start-up business. The gentleman was seeking office tidying, bookkeeping, self-assessment tax return preparation and the occasional PowerPoint. I travelled to his office at first to build up the trust and the relationship. It was a costly and time-consuming task as he didn’t leave close by. Over time he posted or scanned and emailed receipts to me and the physical meetings became less frequent. He was a client for one and half years until his disorganisation and lack of consideration for my small business took its toll on my finances and I eventually called it a day. 

The beauty of hindsight is that I wish I had utilised the Virtual PA Facebook groups more readily. I wish I had been more open to seek my networks’ advice and support. I could have possibly kept the client and resolved the issues. Having a support group of VAs or even a local group of business owners who meet virtually or in person can be a life line and very important.

My Current Working Practice

I started off dedicating 20 hours to my business each week. Now, I’ve reduced that to 15 hours per week because I want to manage better my work life balance. 

I’ve started to utilise Associate Virtual Assistants to help me manage my workload.  

To run my business, I use as much of the available and intuitive online software as possible. The best ones I can access from my phone. This means that I can make use of dead time; checking and replying to emails and checking and replying to social media posts. 

Some of the programmes that I could not work without:

  • Freeagent for invoicing and self-assessment tax returns which came free with my NatWest business account.
  • Canva for creating infographic and images for my social media sites.
  • Lastpass for all my password storage and safe sharing with Associates.
  • Toggl for time keeping and tracking the time keeping of my Associate team.
  • Dropbox or Google Drive for sharing documents online.
  • Mailchimp for creating newsletters, landing pages and emails. 
  • Asana for planning projects, meals, reminders and tasks.
  • Hootsuite for scheduling social media when I go on holiday – but usually I like to post directly onto the social media site.
  • Pocket as a great source of industry relevant articles.
  • Microsoft Suite in its entirety for Word, Excel, PowerPoint Outlook for calendar and emails.

Being Your Own Boss

It’s almost essential to think of your own business as a client of yours so that you give it as much respect and value as you would your Client’s work. It also helps you to have an objective view overseeing what you do for it. 

It’s fair to say that being self-employed is a financial and emotional rollercoaster. 

Social networks of support are ever evolving and who knows you might be the instigator of a great new initiative that will revolutionise the industry. 

Learn more about Christines business here. Or on social – Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.

Read More blogs from our guest authors:

Hester Grainger – Founder at Mumala Club

Claire Winter – Content Creator & Copywriter


Categories
Careers Flexible Working

Making A Flexible Career Work For You

Guest author Claire Winter has been a content creator, journalist, and copywriter for twenty years. She helps business owners get rid of their writing blocks and to get PR Ready with 1:1 training and online courses. She is a trained NCTJ journalist and started her career at ITN in radio and television. Here she talks about finding a flexible career.

My Flexible Career story

My story about flexible working started eleven years ago when my twins were one. I had started my career in journalism in radio and TV working at ITN, but after I had my first daughter, I moved out of London and got a job in local government in the press and media relations office. After a year I got offered a full-time job, but when I requested a 4-day week and I was refused.

I turned down the role and worked as a lecturer in media studies part-time and then found out I was pregnant with twins! After my girls turned one were one I wrote to a local magazine called Families to see if they needed a freelance writer. But instead of getting a job as a writer I got offered the opportunity to buy the Families magazine that covers half of Berkshire and I jumped at the chance. I thought it would give me flexibility and the opportunity to work from home. I would also be working as a journalist again.

It was hard work, and I went through a steep learning curve as I had never run my own business before. By the end of eight years, I had a virtual team of nine people. I had a social media assistant, bookkeeper, sales agent and six women who delivered the magazine for me.

I was able to

  • Take a lot of the school holidays off;
  • Never work during half-terms, I took a week off at Easter and the whole of August off.
  • To go to school assemblies and do the school run.

Having a flexible job made all of this possible and I am very grateful for the opportunities it gave me. I was able to work in an industry I love and also see my family.

Challenges To A Flexible Career

However flexible working can be challenging too; I often worked late nights and some weekends particularly at the beginning. My husband worked full time so running the house, kids, clubs, and chores fell squarely on my shoulders. I learned to outsource a lot. I used online food deliveries, got more help looking after the kids and help with housework!

During those early years, I felt like I wasn’t running my business or family well. I wish I could go back and tell myself that I was doing a good enough job and that running a profitable business with two young twins and a five-year-old was a great achievement.

Two and a half years ago I sold the business and set up Making Words Come Alive (clairewinter.info). I now teach companies how to write content that converts and to do their own PR via 1:1 training and online courses. My new role allows me to have clients from anywhere in the world, helping people is where my passion lies.

Sound Advice

One of the biggest challenges, when you embrace a flexible career, can be working on your own! My advice would be to join real life and online communities that can support you; I run a Facebook group called Cracking Content where I give content, PR and writing tips. Find a tribe that is good fun, useful to be in, and that can support you! I also have a business coach who I check in regularly with, and I work from local café or my shedquarters in the garden.

My top tip is don’t let fear get in the way if you have a good idea for a business or want to try flexible working just go for it.

Website.

Twitter: @clairewinterUK

Facebook: ClaireWinterUK

Instagram: @makingwordscomealivenull