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Career Change Careers Flexible Working Mental Health

Finding Your Passion: Working part-time in Health & Social Care

In the past fourteen months since we first heard of the words ‘Covid 19’, we’ve all been searching for more meaning in our lives.

Some have found it in sourdough & Joe Wicks whilst others are frantically looking for new careers.

Like so many of you reading this, Find your Flex hope that through collective action, we can all play a role in helping the world undergo the much needed ‘Great Reset’:

(https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/covid19-great-reset-gita-gopinath-jennifer-morgan-sharan-burrow-climate/).

The world of work is on the brink of huge change and finding your passion is now within touching distance.

One (if not the sole) positive of the pandemic is that it’s brought flexibility within the workplace, to the fore (thanks Covid!).

It’s also forced us to reanalyse what our real career values are, what our purpose in life is or should be and to also question –

Are we living authentically?

Do we ‘love’ the job we currently do? Is the love enoughto be dedicating most of our working lives to it?

Does your job bring you enough happiness or make you feel content? 

Luckily for anyone still trying to understand what their true passion or calling is– the rise of the portfolio career is becoming the new norm: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zktbn9q.

The days of working in the same career or company all of your life before being rewarded with a carriage clock, are fading for most of us.

If you’ve been considering your next move but aren’t quite sure how to execute it – we might be able to help.

If you’ve always felt a pull towards working within an industry where caring for others and building meaningful relationships – is on the important list, then there’s never been a better time to get experience within health & social care. You can get flexible work experience that pays and you can fit around your life, exactly as you need too.

The Health & Social Care industry is one we feel passionate about at Find your Flex.

It’s an industry you’ll always have a job in, you won’t be replaced by a robot and you always have the opportunity to work as flexibly as you need.

While it’s been a sector cast in a negative light for decades, we want to do ‘our bit’ to shine a light on all the positive & immensely rewarding work that happens day in and day out.

If you’re searching for flexible work and a job with more meaning, becoming a Support Worker could be the experience you need to begin transforming your life for the better.

Considering a career in Health and Social Care but not sure if you have the right skills?

Here’s are the scenarios it could help you with:

Maybe you’ve been curious about working with elderly people ever since you watched your Grandparent (s) experience the Care System?

Or perhaps you’ve had a hunch you’d find helping young and older adults living with mental or physical disabilitieshugely rewarding?

Have a listen to these podcasts:

Hear are some really inspiring stories about what motivates so many to work in the Health and Social Care industry (and try to not be moved or cry):

Working as a Support Worker on either a part-time or ‘Bank Staff’ basis, will give you the chance to see and feel, what a career in health and social care is like in reality. Not just through our preconceived lens.

And if the role of Support Worker doesn’t feel quite right but you develop a love for the sector, there are many ways your employers can help and support you in establishing which area of the sector you are most suited too: https://careers.cygnethealth.co.uk/learning-at-cygnet/

Considering retraining into Counselling, Therapy, Psychology, Nursing or Psychotherapy?

Perhaps you need to do some academic training over the next two to four years in order to start this new role?

If you’re about to enrol onto a part-time Btech, Diploma, Degree or MA; this could be the part-time income you need to facilitate a period of retraining.

Working part-time or as bank staff is a brilliant way to see if you have the skills you need to work with a diverse range of people with diverse conditions.

While you study to gain the academic foundation required, you could also develop your people skills, listening skills and empathy. And make some money.

Working part-time as a Support Worker usually requires a minimum of two 12 hour shifts per week.

That equates to £223.20 per week so £892.80 per month. Bank Staff are expected to do just one twelve-hour shift per week, £111 per week and £446 per month.

Rather than take a part-time job in retail or hospitality to make ends meet while you study, this could provide you with something truly rewarding.

You want to live a more nomadic lifestyle? A career in Health and Social Care could be the solution

We know remote working will become ‘normalised’ over the coming years.

Flexible office space and collaboration venues are popping up all over the country (YEY!).

If you think you’ve got a book within you, or a desire to run your own business; working as a Support Worker can provide you with a regular and steady income to balance your passion projects.

Care work also teaches you an awful lot about life and the psychology of people. An untapped source of inspiration if you ask me.

I’ve also heard that if you work your hours right in part-time vacancies (which entitle you to holiday pay), many staff take a full month or two off every year to do extended holidays.

Imagine sitting on a Greek island and writing that novel or self-help book with your face in the sun?

Want to break out of the Corporate shackles?

If you’re about to return to work after a career break or perhaps have fallen out of love with the corporate world. Working with the more vulnerable in society could be just what you need.

You’ll understand what it means to feel truly valued. Knowing your contribution helps the wellbeing of others, every single day.

The organisations that have struggled to meet the well-reported increased demand in this sector are at the point where they recognise fundamental changes are needed ASAP.

https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/life-sciences-and-healthcare/articles/global-health-care-sector-outlook.html

Digital innovation and a desire to change are happening. The next phase is acceleration.

If you want to be part of meaningful change, this could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

We work with a number of health and social care organisations at Find your Flex.

We’re currently in partnership with Cygnet Healthcare who are doing a lot of brilliant and innovative work in this space.

Cygnet offer constant paths for career progression to any of their staff who want it. They offer a list of staff benefits longer than my COVID roots (very long).

Have a look at all their current vacancies– https://jobs.findyourflex.co.uk/clients/cygnet-healthcare

If any of this has sparked your interest and you’d like to talk to one of our Careers Coaches – you can meet our Team here: https://findyourflex.co.uk/coaching/

They’re happy to offer an initial 20minute FOC consultation to establish whether you’d benefit from their coaching framework.

If you decide to work together, hourly rates apply. But they offer a 10% discount for anyone considering a career in H&SC. Find Your Passion and purpose in life– it’s honestly there for the taking!

Categories
Flexible Working

Flexible Working Appeal – How to Make a Convincing Flex Request

Flexible working is undergoing a paradigm shift. Cued by the Covid pandemic, several businesses are leaning towards a more agile format. Tech giants are trailblazing and high-street brands are following suit. But many employers remain hesitant about flex. Perhaps because it was presented during lockdown in its most dystopian manner – stressful, isolated and juggled in with home-schooling. How do you convince a doubtful boss about the long-term benefits of flex?

What procedure?

You may make a statutory flexible working request if you meet the requirements. Alternatively, you may submit an informal request. For more information on your legal rights, check out www.acas.org.uk and www.gov.uk. Whichever route you choose, you will still have to sell your idea.

Slice it up

Too often people think that the default is to go part-time. There are myriad options out there and you may find that full-time but with core or staggered hours is actually more feasible. Slice up your working life and see what kind of flex will suit each part of it. For example, you could do compressed hours in conjunction with home-working. Be as creative as you can, so that you can present your employer with as many realistic alternatives as possible.

Gather evidence of Flexible Working

A case is only as good as its evidence. Check whether your employer has a flexible working policy in its handbook and use that as a starting point. To boost your request, you could gather case-studies which relate directly to your job position which demonstrate successful examples of flex working. The strongest argument against “it can’t be done” is to show, exactly and concretely, how it is being done. You may also gather statistics about flex and the corresponding impact on productivity in your industry.

Sell your business model

Our reasons for flex-working are deeply rooted because they impact on such important areas of life such as health, family or identity. But this is not the time to present a purely personal case or one that deals solely with generalities. By all means, emphasise the positive outcomes for you but that it only half the story. We all acknowledge that there are many advantages associated with homeworking. There is less stress, less time lost commuting, less pressure on public transport and a positive impact on the environment. However, your employer still has a business to run, as well as a profit and loss account to balance.

Get specific. Anticipate every push-back your employer can make and come up with a persuasive solution. If you work from home on Thursdays and there is a scheduled team meeting that day, offer to link in via Zoom.
Talk up the benefits to the employer of offering flexibility. If you work remotely full-time, your boss could save money on renting commercial office space. If business is brisk at the start of the week but sluggish later on, you could offer to do more hours on Monday in return for an early departure on Friday.


Flex back

Flexibility is two-way street. If your employer is willing to let you flex, be prepared to do the same in return. When there is an away day that usually falls on your at-home time, still turn up. If there is a sudden temporary upsurge in work, pitch in by logging on in the evening for example (although be vigilant that this does not settle into a permanent pattern). This approach not only builds strong businesses, it also promotes goodwill and fruitful professional relationships. Check out why staying connected while remote working important and how you can best state your case to your employer how it will work for them.

Schedule a Flexible Working trial period

Employers may well be sceptical about whether flex working will actually deliver and this uneasiness can lead them to turn down requests. To combat this hesitancy, offer a trial period to see how it pans out. If there are difficulties, use this experience as an opportunity to iron them out in a proactive manner.
Flex Appeal. Have you got it?

Categories
Disability Equality and Diversity Flexible Working

Autism Awareness & Inclusion in the Workplace

As part of National Autism Awareness Week 2021, Find Your Flex is here to help raise awareness. To assist to cultivate much needed change within the workplace in regards to autistic people.

COVID-19 has given pause for much thought over the last year. In many ways the pandemic has given the opportunity to make a fresh start. It is impossible to deny that some societal practices continued until they were forced to stop. Now that we are in position to move forward, certain mindsets must be left behind. Especially the inclusion of neurodiversity in the workplace.

Autism Awareness: Employer Inclusivity

When it comes to neurodiverse people, employers in the UK are not accommodating or inclusive enough. That seems like a harsh blanket statement. Sadly, there is concrete evidence to back this up. Only 22% of autistic adults are employed in the UK as of 2020. In a modern society claiming to be forward-thinking, diversified and inclusive, these statistics are unacceptable.

Employers need to be making stronger commitments to inclusive cultures. The benefits are twofold. Firstly, talented people are able to enter the workforce, utilise their skills and grow. Secondly employers and organisations reap the benefits of a more creative and innovative team. It is baffling that there are not more neurodiverse people in the workplace. They are a massive pool of exceptional talent and missed opportunities.

Be Aware of what Autistic People bring to the table

Employers need to be aware of what they are potentially missing out on. There are some exceptionally talented people looking for work. Being neurodiverse shouldn’t be a factor in them not finding employment. Autistic people may need to work in a different way than what employers are used to. All it requires is an understanding employer and an open conversation about how they work best.

The National Autistic Society, interviewed Jamie Knight; Senior Research Engineer at the BBC. Jamie has a number of important roles, including developing software, conduct tech maintenance and ensuring their apps and services are running properly. This is just one example of how much neurodiverse people can bring to the table at a senior level. This is for one of the most globally recognised organisations; the BBC. This is definitely an indicator for more organisations to follow this example and really take an internal look at their recruitment process.

Autism Awareness: Perceiving the World around us

The first aspect of autism awareness employers need to recognise is that they need to rid themselves of existing mindsets. Neurodiverse people perceive the world differently than people who are not neurodiverse. This is the mindset employers and society in general must adopt if they haven’t already. For example; a faulty lightbulb in a lit room can be slightly annoying but easy to ignore for some people. Yet for an autistic person this can be something potentially debilitating.

In NAS’s interview with Jamie Knight, he sums up perfectly how employers and society in general should view neurodiverse people:

“Look, its not that I’m defective, it’s that the environment is disabling me. So if I start modifying the environment, it will stop disabling me. I’ll still remain impaired … But I can stop it from having a negative impact on my life.”

And this is key when employing neurodiverse people. Make small changes to the workplace environment, interactions and overall processes. This will accommodate someone who can prove to be an invaluable asset. Making this less of an inconvenience and more of investment. General acceptance and adapting to people is an easy part of creating a more inclusive environment. Jaimie has Lion with him at all times as he says he helps to keep him happy. And Lion even acts as an indicator for how Jaimie is feeling. When neurodiverse people are comfortable in their environment they can thrive as well as anyone else. Any employer can see this as a positive thing which they can prosper from.

Recruitment Process: Inclusivity & Accommodation

Accommodating neurodiverse people does not start once they are in the job. It needs to start at the beginning of the recruitment process. Job descriptions can sometimes ask for too much. Listing a number unnecessary requirements as “essential” to the job, when in practice they are not. This isn’t just an issue that concerns neurodiverse people, but it does present a greater barrier for them more so than others.

Employers casually include “essential requirements” in job descriptions without thinking much of it. Such as: ‘excellent communication skills’ or ‘must work well in a team’. These skills can often be included in job descriptions where the employee would be mostly working independently or would not need to interact much with others to do the job well. If this is the case, why are these skills part of the essential criteria? An autistic person will see this and automatically move on as they may not have these skills, yet they could have been exceptional in that role. This is also true for people who are not neurodiverse. Instead of looking for the “perfect” candidate, employers should be searching for the right candidate. Consider what really is essential and what is not.

The same is true for the interview process. Candidate assessments in interviews can include asking vague, open ended questions and reading body language. An autistic person should not be assessed in this way as it is unfair; they perceive things differently and may not perform well under this kind of assessment. A better assessment of their performance would be to give them a trial in the appropriate role and asses their performance this way. Employers need to adopt these changes in practice if they are aiming to create a more diverse and inclusive environment.

Why Flexible Working for Neurodiverse People is Key

Flexible working should be available for everyone, yet it is a key element of working life for neurodiverse people. For an autistic person, aspects in and out of the workplace can derail them for the rest of the day. And as previously stated; neurodiverse people perceive things differently and therefore have to cope with this in a different way. Therefore it is completely unfair, inappropriate and ignorant to expect neurodiverse people to operate on fixed shifts all the time with no room for compromise.

This not only shows a total lack of autism awareness but is a totally regressive way of working. If companies maintain this approach they are making no effort to facilitate a diverse and inclusive working environment. Now it is true that some neurodiverse people require structure and benefit from having fixed shifts. That is fine, flexible working does not effect that. It simply means the company can work around neurodiverse employees if their environment has left them incapable of operating under their normal hours for whatever reason. This is why flexible working is an essential requirement for neurodiverse people which all organisations should adopt. They outcome can only be positive.

Autism Awareness: Improve Lives

Like anyone else, neurodiverse people may want a certain level of independence, sense of achievement and purpose. For most adults, these aspects of life are defined by their careers. We achieve independence through the money we make from our job to become self reliant. We often strive for achievements within our job and measure our success with these. Often our career is literally the thing that gets us out of bed in the morning, giving our lives structure and purpose. Neurodiverse people deserve to have the opportunity for these basic fundamental parts of life that everyone is entitled to.

Employers are the ones with the ability to make this happen. This can be done simply by creating a more inclusive and diverse environment. It can not be understated the impact this can have on the life of a neurodiverse person. All too often the base need they have is structure and nothing provides this more than a career which will also grant them a certain level of independence. This is the way forward in a post-COVID world, employers and society need to embrace this sooner rather than later.

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Automation Careers Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Press Release

Find Your Flex Join The Tech Talent Charter

Who is The Tech Talent Charter?

“The Tech Talent Charter (TTC) is a non-profit organisation leading a movement to address inequality in the UK tech sector and drive inclusion and diversity in a practical and uniquely measurable way.  The TTC’s ultimate goal is that the UK tech sector becomes truly inclusive and a reflection of the society which it represents.  There are now over 500 UK employers of tech involved with the TTC and working together to drive change.

Signatories of the TTC make a number of pledges in relation to their approach to recruitment and retention. Although it is very much an employer-led initiative, the TTC is supported by the UK Government’s Digital Strategy.”

Their goal: that the UK tech sector becomes truly inclusive, reflecting the society which it represents. They focus on the how, not just the why of inclusion.

Tech Talent Charter – Diversity In Tech Report 2020

Why We’ve Joined TTC

We want to see the innovators innovate, the entrepreneurs create and organisations step up with corporate social responsibility. Our belief is that diversity and inclusion is the key to better futures for both employees and for business. We know we can play our part by driving access to flexible working and raising the profile of those employers who share our beliefs. 

We might only be a micro business but by joining forces with The TTC we are saying that everyone can make a difference. Consider that 

  • only 19% of the workforce in the tech industry are women. Yet over 50% of women surveyed by the TTC would retrain in tech given the support and opportunity. 
  • flexible working is far more likely to be sought by women or other underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities (Timewise). However our stats show men are also seeking flexible working too.
  • research commissioned by the Fawcett Society revealed that 1 in 3 working mothers lost work or hours due to childcare needs, that women were more likely than men to lose work or be burdened with childcare during the crisis, and that ethnic minority women were more likely to have concerns about losing their jobs.
  • the latest McKinsey Report on diversity reveals that businesses who embrace D&I are not only more innovative and profitable but are also attracting and retaining quality talent.

and you can see there is work to be done.

Our mission as a flexible working jobs board is to bring true flexible working roles to everyone. Regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, parental status etc. We work closely with employers who already value flexible working. We hope to bring the issue of automation and re-skilling to the forefront of their strategies. 

We believe that with the TTC and their signatories we can drive a movement for change. One that benefits all members of society regardless of which gender you were born, what your socio economic background is or which ethnic group you belong to.

Not yet a signatory? Take a look at signing up here.

Tech Talent Charter Logo

TTC CEO Debbie Forster:

The importance of greater inclusion and diversity in tech is, thankfully, no longer up for debate. Sectors and organisations now need to work together to shift the dial – and this will happen a lot quicker if we pool our successes, failures, ideas and learn from them to bring about real structural change.

In our inaugural report we stressed the importance of collaboration. One single company can’t do it alone, which is why we’re asking organisations to sign up to the Tech Talent Charter and join the movement (now approximately 500 Signatories).  Companies can also access our TTC Toolkit, a set of free resources designed to help organisations improve their inclusion and diversity”.

Categories
Automation Digital Skills Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Industry Flexers Technology Industry

The Growing Digital Skills Gap

Back in 2019 we discussed the digital skills gap, what it is and what needs to be done to address it. We still stand by the fact that flexible working opens doors to many more talented people able to plug this gap. But what else have we learned?

Since we discussed the matter much more research has been carried out by organisations such as The Tech Talent Charter, McKinsey, World Economic Forum, Deloitte and more – find a list of all the reports we think you’ll want to read at the end of this post.

So here are a few stats to get you warmed up

  • According to recent analysis from BCS: the Chartered Institute of IT, in the last quarter of 2020 women made up only 19% of the UK IT industry.
  • Flexible working is far more likely to be sought by women or other underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities (Timewise).
  • Further research by the Gender and Behavioural Insight Team found that job adverts offering flexible working attracted 30% more applicants and boosted applications from women by 16%.
  • In a survey of working women by the Tech Talent Charter, more than half of respondents were open to a career in tech, subject to being able to obtain the relevant knowledge and skills.
  • BAME IT professionals are less likely to be in positions of responsibility than those of white ethnicity – despite on the whole being better qualified, a new study has found (Chartered Institute for IT, 2020).
  • 91% of UK employers struggled to find workers with the right skills over the last year (Deloitte, BITC 2020).
  • The percentage of organisations scaling automations was found to have doubled in the last year, making concerns surrounding re-skilling even more prevalent (Deloitte, BITC 2020).
  • Only 1 in 7 workers in roles at high risk of automation received training in the last year.
  • 8 to 9 percent of 2030 labour demand will be in new types of occupations that have not existed before (McKinsey 2017).
  • Forty-three percent of businesses surveyed indicate that they are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration, 41% plan to expand their use of contractors for task specialised work, and 34% plan to expand their workforce due to technology integration (WEF, 2020).
  • It is estimated that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms (World Economic Forum, 2020).
  • On average, companies estimate that around 40% of workers will require re-skilling of six months or less and 94% of business leaders report that they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job, a sharp uptake from 65% in 2018 (World Economic Forum, 2020).

So what does this mean for the future of work?

To try and condense a multifactorial concept of ‘The Future Of Work’ into a short paragraph is difficult but here goes. The way we work has and will continue to change. Automation will see mass job loss but also create millions of jobs too. Eight to nine percent of labour demand in 2030 will be in roles that do not exist today. It is clear that education and re-skilling are key to navigating this huge change. Without the investment it needs we could see huge unemployment. Yet in parallel there will be large volumes of vacant roles requiring skills few people have learned.

So what next?

With epic amounts of data to support what the future of work looks like. We know that these issues need addressing now. Our current workforce, especially those who are more likely to suffer job loss as a result of automation need to be re-skilled in skills for the future. Ideally this needs to be done whilst employees are still in employment. Tackling the issue once these people have lost their jobs will be more difficult as the urgency to find paid employment may negate the desire to change careers or study. 

Our children are the workforce of the future and the national curriculum should reflect this. Research needs to be done on how we teach children the in demand skills of the future.

A report by Deloitte and BITC highlight the case for change saying

  • investment in reskilling by organisations appears to be lacking
  • employees most at risk of automation are not spending time reskilling.
  • and it is getting harder for organisations to hire the skills they need externally.

Who should we re-skill?

It comes as no surprise that the technology industry is lacking diversity on all levels. According to recent analysis from BCS: the Chartered Institute of IT, in the last quarter of 2020 women made up only 19% of the UK IT industry. Research commissioned by the Fawcett Society revealed that 1 in 3 working mothers lost work or hours due to childcare needs, that women were more likely than men to lose work or be burdened with childcare during the crisis, and that ethnic minority women were more likely to have concerns about losing their jobs.

You only need to look at a handful of reports over the last couple of years to see the lack of diversity.

The Tech Talent Charter surveyed working women to see what would persuade them to consider a career in tech. More than 50 percent of respondents were open to a career in tech, providing they could access the relevant knowledge and skills.

Then we need to consider those more likely to lose their jobs as a result of automation. Those in industries such as retail, manufacturing and hospitality (McKinsey, 2020).

When should we re-skill?

Time is of the essence. With Covid potentially accelerating the automation curve we need to act now. We need to avoid the costs of job loss and a prolonged, expensive recruitment process. Not to mention trying to recruit people with skills that very few have trained to do. 

We need to invest in reskilling our workforce now. It makes good business sense. Make the most of your employees now. Take the employees whose roles may be at risk from automation and ask them if they would be interested in retraining. Models for retraining and redeployment need to start now.

graphic showing option a to re-skill and redeploy workers versus redundancies and costly recruitment

How are flexible working, diversity and inclusion and the digital skills gap linked?

Our own research has shown the diversity in our own audience seeking flexible working. This is backed by Timewise who say “flexible working is far more likely to be sought by women or other underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities.”. But until flexible working is more widely accepted and valued by organisations these people, talented and brimming with potential will be unable to access the careers they desire.

Research by the Gender and Behavioural Insight Team found that job adverts offering flexible working attracted 30% more applicants and boosted applications from women by 16%. Whilst this is great news that highlights the value of flexible working, much is still to be done to ensure that flexibility offerings are not just a tick box exercise. Something our team at Find Your Flex takes very seriously.

Open up a discussion on how, where and when is the best way to do a job and you will attract more talented and diverse people into roles. The technology industry needs to be as diverse as the people it serves. There is a whole group of diverse people out there eager for a career, they just require the flexibility to access it. This untapped group of talented people could be the part of the answer to the digital skills gap.

How will Find Your Flex address the digital skills gap?

We have exciting plans for 2021 – 2022 and have something up our sleeves that we think could not only address the issue of re-skilling but also provide a green solution too. We can’t say too much now but watch this space. We’ve also just joined The Tech Talent Charter as one of their signatories. Read more about the great work they are doing here.

A list of interesting reading on the future of work, diversity in technology and responsible automation

Categories
Careers Flexible Working

Remote Working – Stay Connected

“Out of sight, out of mind” wrote John Heywood, a favoured playwright to four Tudor monarchs, in his collection of proverbs. With the initially forced and now inexorable rise of alternative employment patterns, this epigram is as poignant today as it was centuries ago. For remote workers, several questions arise – how does a person stay connected, visible, remain part of a team and secure good work and promotion whilst not being on site?

The Challenge For Remote Workers

No commuting, less stress and concentrating in the relative quiet of home (in non-Covid times) mean that homeworkers are ready to attack their to-do lists with more gusto than otherwise. But there is a lingering sense that being physically present in the workplace indicates that an employee is more available, more obviously diligent or perhaps even just more personable. These issues increase with the amount of time spent out of the office, with full-time remote workers facing particular challenges.

It’s Good To Talk

Email has become the default manner of communication but it’s good to talk. When you pick up the phone and speak, you can modulate your tone of voice and nuances come across far better. There is also the chance to ask for clarification and further information on a real-time basis. With people’s in-boxes increasingly cluttered, the direct personal approach can be more effective. If concerned about interrupting someone, use instant messaging to check availability. Alternatively send a meeting invite for an Outlook calendar which can be accepted or used to propose a more suitable time. 

Responding Promptly

In an office, a line manager can walk up to a desk, ask if something can be done and get an instant, and reassuring, response. Where appropriate, it is helpful to recreate this interaction by responding promptly to an email or voicemail. Even if the deadline for the work is far into the future, reply immediately to say that you have received the message and that you will be actioning it.

Make Your Voice Heard

Meetings can be testing, as everyone is in the room except the remote worker. You need to prepare carefully to maximise your meeting participation. Do not irrelevantly say things just for the sake of it (trust me, this will not make you popular) but rather focus in advance on what your contribution will be. Body language, in particular, may not come across in Zoom and certainly not on a voice-only call. Instead of just nodding your head and hoping someone will notice this on a screen, you may need to speak up to make sure you get your point across.

Communicate Your Aspirations

Remote working has many advantages. But it does not feel that way when you are at home wondering why X or Y got a plum project when you missed out. Sometimes work just gets handed out to the person who is more obviously in a line of vision.

To mitigate against such disappointment, communicate aspirations and preemptively volunteer for what you want. Your supervisor is not a mind reader. Whatever work you do get, schedule progress check-ins to get feedback and ensure that you are on the right path. This also indicates to your boss how productive you are and reassures that there are no surprise problems lurking in the background.

Connect With A Mentor

If you want more long-term input into your career, being matched with a mentor can be a great move for mapping and achieving progress. It is always beneficial to have someone to discuss how you can get ahead and to advocate for you when you are not in the office yourself. You could also offer to buddy a newcomer and thus have a positive impact on the work environment in that way.

stay connected, photo of team with one remote worker

What Next For The Remote Worker

Offices are buzzing places with collaborative relationships often built around chit-chat and water-cooler conversations. Remote workers may miss out on that sense of camaraderie and the networking that comes with it. To combat this, it is smart proactively to instigate social interaction. You can schedule in a coffee Zoom or a lunch Skype since nowadays eating “al-desko” has become popular. Other options include ensuring that you participate in Away Days and attend firm-wide events such as the Xmas lunch. 

When it comes to remote employment, the only thing that should be remote is the work, not the worker. 

Susha Chandrasekhar

Read more about how Covid could change how and where we live.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Students and Graduates

The Apprenticeship Route: Why it is a smart choice

The Apprenticeship route is a path to employment that has been around for decades. Despite many positive attributes, apprenticeships have almost become a second class career path. Taking a backseat to other means of gaining employment. This blog post will be looking at some disillusioned stigmas associated with apprenticeships. And why currently it is one of the smartest routes to take to gaining employment.

Are schools diverting traffic from the Apprenticeship Route?

In 2019 I conducted a survey within high schools with students and teachers as part of my internship. To find out which routes to employment they were most encouraged to take. The results were that the majority of students found apprenticeships appealing. Yet only a minority would actually choose this route. Students felt they did not have enough accessible information on apprenticeships.

The teachers’ survey yielded similar results. They claimed that the majority of students go to university. The teachers also admitted that there is ‘sometimes’ a stigma with other post-education career paths. They did say these attitudes are changing, but felt the other career paths are not as encouraged as university. Many said there could be more accessible information within schools on the apprenticeship route.

The results showed schools encourage the university route more than other career paths. A general comment made by teachers is that views on the apprenticeship route are changing and becoming more positive. Yet, that implies it is changing from a negative view, which should never have become prominent in the first place. One thing is clear, schools need to provide more encouragement and accessible information on apprenticeships. To do otherwise if depriving students of opportunities that could potentially lead to a fulfilling career.

The Impact of Parental Views on Apprenticeships

Parents want what is best for their children, it is their innate priority. And for a lot of young people, family opinions/encouragement is what impact’s their decisions the most. Parents can often map out their child’s career journey before they can even walk. Could pre-existing bias or misconceptions of post-education routes be impacting their children’s choices?

A survey on Young Persons’ Behaviour and Attitudes relating to careers advice and guidance, was conducted Island between September 2019 and February 2020. Statistics showed that over two thirds (68%) of pupils agreed their family encouraged them to go to university. 2% more than the number of students who agreed it was their own choice to go to university. These statistics are worrying. Showing that parent encouragement of the university path could be detracting from the number of children choosing other (just as successful) routes to employment.

This shows a bias towards the university route. It’s clear the majority of parents think that university is the best path their child can take. They should focus on what career their child is pursuing. As the university route is not always the best way to get there. For many parents, their proudest moment was when their child received their degree. And they should be proud, that is an amazing achievement. However they also need to keep their priorities straight; which is more important? That framed cap and degree, while their child is upstairs on their computer struggling to find work? Or the knowledge that their child has a fulfilling career and were encouraged to choose the best means to get there? Parents must not let misconceived bias and pride derail them from doing what is best for their child’s future.

The Apprenticeship Route vs The University Route

Every job role is subjective; some require certain routes to get there. This section is less about deciding which route is better and more about creating a level playing field. It is true that there are many pros to going to university. Yet there are more than a few cons too. And it is a fact that apprenticeships do not have these same cons.

Certain job roles specify that they want a degree in the field. However, to some employers its does not mean that much. University is expensive, often new students have to borrow the money to go to university. You are essentially in debt before you have even gotten into a full time career. Also you are giving up three or more years of your life to studying. There may be less time consuming routes that lead to the same outcome. There is a level of exclusivity to some courses; they can be difficult to get into. You may find yourself a few points shy of the minimum and unable to get onto the course you want. An apprenticeship can be a worthwhile alternative.

You don’t pay to do for the apprenticeship route, you get paid. Although payment is the least you get out of an apprenticeship. What is more important is the experience you will gain. Employers are becoming as interested in experience as they are in a high level qualification. You may be able to do work placements and voluntary work while in university. But won’t gain as much experience as the full specified training while doing an apprenticeship. Some employers conducting apprenticeships tend to take on once they have achieved that qualification. As they have spent time and money training someone how to do a job and to do it well. No route is better than the other, they are equally beneficial. But you may find one will yield results more than the other depending on the job role you’re aiming for. 

The Flexible Route

It is important to point out that more young people require flexible working hours and study time. They could be young parents. Or have relatives they need to look after or have physical or mental health needs that need catering too. There is a stigma that flexible working is primarily reserved for single mums or people over a certain age. However on, Find Your Flex, 47% of flexible job seekers using the site are male and around 60% report they don’t have children or their children are aged 17+. So no one should make this assumption. Everyone should be entitled to flexible working and young people are no exception, the same goes for their post-education routes. Is it fair that a young person cannot gain a higher qualification because they may have to look after an unwell relative? Of course not. Which is why apprenticeship providers, universities and employers need to begin making changes. To incorporate not only flexible working but flexible study into their courses.

Covid-19 has shown us how vital this is. In the face of the greatest threat of our generation, we have had to make changes. Yet we shouldn’t have had to adapt as much as we have. If society made changes to incorporate flexible working and study before this pandemic, not as many people would have suffered. We wouldn’t have has such a drop in grades and rise in unemployment. When we return to normality, we cannot forget the lessons it taught us. We cannot throw away the importance of flexible working and study; we cannot make the same mistakes twice.  

The rise of the Apprenticeship Route

Find Your Flex has been on this mission long before Covid. Yet we will continue to ensure flexible apprenticeships continue long after the fight against this virus is won. Visit out apprenticeship hub: at https://jobs.findyourflex.co.uk/apprentice-hub to find out more. We work with organisations that are making the significant changes to ensure that flexible working is available for everyone. If this encompasses you, do not hesitate to look at our apprenticeships. As you may find the perfect apprenticeship for you that will lead to that job you are striving towards.

The apprenticeship route isn’t exclusively for school leavers either, it is available for anyone older than that. Even graduates, don’t assume that because you chose to do a degree that you cannot or should not consider the apprenticeship route. If you find yourself struggling to enter the field you want, an apprenticeship could be the perfect way in. For more advice on what graduates can do or should not do to gain a career after graduating, have a read of this blog post: After Graduating: Getting that first step on the job ladder

Categories
Flexible Working Lifestyle

Will Lockdown Change How and Where We Live?

Home Sweet Home. It is our shelter, our sanctuary, our escape from the world and is reputedly where the heart is. But the Covid-19 crisis has caused us to reassess how we interact with that space in so many ways including in a professional context. The rise and prevalence of remote working has shown what can be achieved without crossing the threshold of our front door. What does this mean for how and where we live?

Redefining Home Working

Few would wish to re-create the emergency lockdown makeshift of balancing computers on the kitchen table or precariously on knees whilst perching on the sofa. There have been noises and disruptions, with drying laundry scattered around, and the paraphernalia of personal life in the background. We have all suffered at times from cabin fever and sensory overload. Clearly this ad-hoc approach is not the best long-term strategy for effective homeworking and many increasingly do want to work remotely on a more sustained basis.

A designated room in the house to be used solely as an office is one solution. It presents soundproofed peace and, if carefully devised and arranged, a business-like environment. One which is separated from its domestic counterpart. There is also the chance, physically and mentally, to shut the door on work at the end of the day. And we all do need to switch off at some point. But how to magic up this space?

Space – The First Frontier

One option is for people to upgrade in their existing location which means negotiating a bigger mortgage and taking a harder hit on monthly repayments. This is not always financially viable. With the economy stuttering and redundancies afoot, it may also be a risky step.

Another route is to improve-not-move. This is done by building an extension onto an existing property or converting an attic to be used as an office hub. Basement renovations are also popular when you have no choice but to dig deep. Alternatively, open plan could be ditched with a large footprint split into two smaller rooms to create a work bubble. Once Covid is over (yes, this too will pass), builders may face a welcome upturn in demand for their services as people redesign their homes to meet changing needs.

But some are contemplating more radical solutions. The Office for National Statistics, which is tracking the impact of Covid-19, indicates that office-based employees are now willing to exchange crowded cities for pastures new. Among those planning to work from home, 12% have considered moving to a rural or costal area. Estate agents have seen more buyer registrations for properties in commuter villages and around small market towns. The temporary stamp duty holiday offered by the Chancellor, to kickstart the housing market out of its virus paralysis, has provided a further incentive to up sticks and turn daydreams into reality.

New Home, New Lifestyle

It is not merely the extra legroom that is the draw. As per Rightmove, the online property website, there is a “lure of a new lifestyle, one that is quieter and has an abundance of beautiful countryside and more outdoor space.” If people can work from home more, they may decide to live further out. Thus accepting a longer commute on certain days in return for a mode of living that is calmer, greener and less polluted. In turn this leads to a healthier and less stressful existence. It is an appealing vista.

This approach pans out on more than a personal level with a possible wider economic impact. There is a chance to rebalance house prices in different regions, to reinvigorate local economies and to promote a rural renaissance. Perhaps it is time to update the old saying to Home and Office, Sweet Home and Office.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working

The Coolest, Weirdest & Most Christmassy Jobs Ever

2020 has seen mass unemployment, the introduction of the word furlough to our dictionary and the boom in flexible and remote working opportunities.

The year may be almost over, but that hasn’t stopped us thinking about the most amazing jobs that have popped up on the radar over the years during the festive season.

In this article we look at the most amazing jobs that are available during Winter and a lot of them are even available with a flexible working schedule!

Santa Claus

Do you love Christmas? Can you shake your belly like a bowl full of jelly? Can you grow a big beard, name all 9 reindeer AND “Ho Ho Ho”?!

Then your perfect festive job is becoming SANTA!

Santa Claus has been a figure of popular culture since the mid 1700’s and you’ll be responsible for keeping the magic alive. You’ll need to be able to work a crowd of festive fun goers, let out some big Ho Ho Ho’s and captivate children into believing in Santa Claus.

Some background in acting, drama or performing is usually expected as well as being able to improvise and think on the spot – you never know what children might ask Santa for! Preferable attributes include enjoying mince pies, not having a fear of flying and previous reindeer handling experience. This is not essential though as full training will usually be given.

Christmas Elf

Become a part of the yuletide tradition, and turn yourself into a Christmas Elf! If you love Christmas, enjoy working with children, and thrive on helping people create magical memories with a fantastic festive experience then this is absolutely a job you should consider. As an Elf, you will spend early December through to Christmas Eve assisting jolly Santa. 

Experience is desirable but not essential as training will usually be given. A theatrical interest is beneficial, as are any additional special talents to bring a smile to small faces, such as dancing, juggling and general wackiness.

Ice Sculptor

Ice sculptures are created by highly-skilled artists who carve impressions out of ice. Before even a small chunk of ice is removed from a budding ice sculpture, an ice sculptor must first come up with an idea and design. In many cases, this design is dictated by the sculptor’s clients. Once an ice sculptor has decided on what type of masterpiece he wants to create, they must then obtain a suitable piece of ice. The most desirable pieces of ice are rather large and completely clear. Since regular water has a tendency to become cloudy when it freezes, special measures must be taken to create suitable blocks of ice. 

After the idea has been sketched and the ice has been obtained or created, an ice sculptor then starts creating his masterpiece by removing small bits or ice from the block. This can be done using several different tools. Some tools that are used for sculpting ice include chainsaws, chisels, rotary tools, files, rasps, and torches.

Ski Instructor

There are many types of jobs available to people who would like to do temporary seasonal work in a ski resort. One job that is competitive is that of the ski instructor. When dreaming of working in a ski resort, it’s perhaps this role that springs to mind as it is seen as one of the most glamorous positions. You’re out all day on the ski slopes – but isn’t that what people work in ski resorts for; to get as much time as possible on the mountains? 

But working as a ski instructor doesn’t have to be just a temporary seasonal position. A lot of students and graduates who take on holiday or part time work end up making a dedicated full time career out of it. Ski instructors earn between £9-£14 an hour depending on where they’re based.

Professional Gift Wrapper

This is a role with a variety of flexible working options. You could work for yourself, wrapping presents for people with money to spend but are short on time, or you could set up a business where you train others on how to wrap correctly. Wouldn’t it be amazing to go into a shop like Harrods or Selfridges and teach the staff how to present the gift-wrapped purchases beautifully? 

You need creativity and an open mind to become a professional gift wrapper, as well as impeccable attention to detail – every has to be absolutely perfect. People start out on pretty much the minimum wage, but once you’ve got going, you can charge £150 a day. It’s seasonal work though, so you’ll need to think about how to expand your business during the slower times.

Christmas Tree Decorator

If you’ve got an eye for detail, as well as boundless ends of creativity and energy then you could become a professional Christmas tree decorator. You will also need to have steady hands to ensure that ornaments are not damaged, as well as nerves of steel as you may be working up a ladder quite a bit of the time. 

Working schedules are usually quite flexible, however when you do work, you need to know that most decorative work takes place overnight. If you are thoroughly professional and dedicated to ensuring that your work exceeds all client expectations, then this could be the perfect role for you. Chances are you’ll also spend the whole time working with Christmas music playing!

Ice Rink staff

Are you on the hunt for an exciting and different temporary job? Working at a festive ice rink offers plenty of flexibility with schedules and there’s usually loads of overtime up for grabs! Tasks will vary, but ultimately you will be looking after customers on the ice, so you will need to be a strong skater. You will also need to have a great head for health & safety, as the safety of the visitors will be of utmost importance.

The bonus… most seasonal ice-rinks that popup during winter are usually part of some kind of alpine village which includes a bar, food and live entertainment and you will usually get a discount at these places or possibly even some freebies.

Mince Pie Chef

The average pastry chef in the Uk earns between £16k – £29k, with bonuses available of up to £3,000. So if you’ve got a cracking mince pie recipe that the world just simply needs to taste then this might be the job for you. Pastry chefs are responsible for the creation, decoration, and presentation of desserts such as cakes, pastries and pies.

Christmas Card Designer

Are you able to produce contemporary and cutting-edge designs for Christmas? You will need to be full of original ideas and thrive working in a busy studio environment. You’ll need to be passionate and able to keep up to date with the latest trends in colour and product development. Your day to day will consist of creating new designs and reformatting past successes. Sitting and designing Christmas cards all day really does seem like the dream!

Personal Shopper

Are you the kind of person who always manages to buy the exact gift that someone wanted, or went above and beyond what they’d asked for and bought them something even better? If you answered yes then you could be a personal shopper. You may find yourself working for busy families, super-rich celebrities, older people with mobility issues, department stores, corporate executives, image consulting agencies, or event planning companies. The market you work for, will dictate where you shop.You will usually work individually with your clients, who will be short on time and just need someone to take care of everything for them. The role involves you needing to get to know your clients as well as you do your family within a very short space of time. 

If you don’t want to be restrained by a typical 9-to-5 job, then this role is perfect for you! If you’re working for yourself (which is usually the case for many personal shoppers), you’ll decide your own working hours, based on the demand for your services. Starting salaries for personal shoppers are usually around £14,000 to £18,000. With experience, this can increase to between £19,000 and £23,000, while in high-end retail you’ll typically be able to command a salary of about £25,000. If you’re self-employed, you’ll be able to set your own rates, which will largely depend on your location and clientele. Generally speaking, though, you could make an average £250 for a day’s work.

2021 Is On The Way

Christmas this year has felt very different to what we’re used to due to ongoing global pandemic challenges, but 2021 is a brand new year and we’re confident that no matter what happens we’ll all pull together.

Although we don’t currently have any live roles for the job of Santa Claus, we’ve got plenty of other flexible working vacancies on our site.

From everyone at Find Your Flex, we wish you all the best and a very Happy New Year!

Article written by freelance marketer & copywriter Jessica Ross.

Categories
Careers Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Lifestyle

Equal Pay Day 2020: Women Should Not Be Working For Free

What Is Equal Pay Day?

Did you know that Equal Pay Day falls on the 20th November this year? 

Equal Pay Day is recognised each year as the day in the year when women effectively, on average, stop earning relative to men. How crazy is that?

The Fawcett Society uses the full-time mean average gender pay gap to work out the day each year, which in 2020 is 11.5%, down from 13.1% in 2019. That means that Equal Pay Day has moved 6 days later in the year, compared to 14th November in 2019. The mean gender pay gap for all employees, not just those working full-time, is 14.6% this year, down from 16.3% last year.

So while most of us spend the rest of the year essentially working for free, we thought we’d take a look at some absolute badass ladies who’ve taken 2020 and smashed it against a wall.

Kamala Harris

(Image credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Kamala Harris just wins 2020 in our opinion. She is the first woman – and the first woman of colour – to be elected Vice-President of America. Being the first to do something seems to come naturally to Harris. In 2017, she became the first South Asian-American senator in US history, and the second African-American woman elected to the senate. For countless women and girls, Harris’ achievements represent hope, validation and the shattering of a proverbial glass ceiling that has kept mostly white men perched at the top tiers of American government.

Sundas Khalid

(Image credit: Instagram @sundaskhalidd)

Sundas Khalid is a data science leader and a passionate advocate for diversity in the workplace. She leads search engine analytics at Google and participates in their IamRemarkable initiative, empowering underrepresented communities to celebrate their accomplishments. Outside of work, Sundas volunteers with organizations that promote diversity and inclusion, including Pakistani Women in Computing and North Seattle College, and provides career coaching to help people achieve their dream jobs. 

Lizzie Valedquez

(Image credit: Today.com/Wire Image)

Lizzie is an American motivational speaker, activist, author, and YouTuber. She was born with an extremely rare congenital disease called Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome that, among other symptoms, prevents her from accumulating body fat and gaining weight. Her conditions resulted in bullying during her childhood. During her teenage years, she faced cyberbullying, which ultimately inspired her to take up motivational speaking. In addition to being a motivational speaker, Velasquez campaigns for awareness of online bullying, taking part in Kylie Jenner’s #IAmMoreThan project and supporting anti-bullying legislation across the United States.  

Munroe Bergdorf

(Image credit: The Guardian/Luke Nugent)

Model and transgender activist Munroe Bergdorf was featured in the 2020 100 Great Black Britons list and in September was featured on the cover of Teen Vogue. Bergdorf was hired as L’Oréal’s first-ever trans model in 2017 but was axed weeks later when the Daily Mail seized upon comments she had made as white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia and killed anti-fascism protester Heather Heyer. After L’Oreal sought to align itself with Black Lives Matter, the author and DJ lit into its “meaningless”, hypocritical show of solidarity and called out its “racist snakes”. Bergdorf told Vogue how her outcry prompted a phone call with the brand’s new president Delphine Viguier-Hovasse, who joined after she was fired, and the offer to be L’Oréal Paris’ diversity consultant.

Samira Ahmed

(Image credit: The Telegraph/Jeff Gilbert)

Taking home The Glass Ceiling Award this year. this award-winning journalist took the BBC to tribunal for being paid six times less than a male journalist hosting a similar show – and won the case in a landmark victory that could change the lives and salaries of so many in the future. Her move came after the BBC published the salaries of its highest earners in July 2017 under the terms of its new royal charter, which revealed that only one-third of the list of talent earning more than £150,000 were women, with all the top names being men.

Adwoa Dickson

Image Credit: Dave Benett/Getty Images for Women)

The Woman of The Year 2020 award was presented to the inspirational Adwoa Dickson by Lorraine Kelly, for her work with Amies Freedom Choir. The unique choir aims to develop the musical and cultural awareness of young women who have survived trafficking. It also helps them to explore songs and musical styles from each others’ cultures and languages.

Equal Pay For Everyone

In 2020 things really shouldn’t still be this bad. Equal pay should be a fundamental right and not something that women have to fight for.

Though there are some absolute trailblazers out there paving the way for the rest of us, we need to consider what we can all do to ensure that everyone is treated equally and paid fairly.

Article written by freelance marketer & copywriter Jessica Ross.