Categories
Careers Flexible Working Future of work

Working From Home: Are Employers Biased About It?

The term Working From Home or WFH, has been used a lot in post-lockdown times. Maybe too much? What I mean is; when a phrase or title is used so often, we can forget it’s literal core meaning.

Because of that, Working From Home has been a talking point as of late. And it is always referred to as a form of flexible working, which it is. But how flexible is it really?

Honestly, there are variables which mean that this question has a number of different answers and there inlies the problem. There is no solid answer to that question and yet there seems to be bias about the flexibility and freedom Working From Home offers.

What is the bias against people who Work From Home?

This all started when I saw a post on LinkedIn. A woman was calling out her husband’s employer for questioning why he needed a shift change to perform parenting duties. When his wife Works From Home…

This alone shocked me. But what shocked me more was the number of people commenting who related to this story. Which led me to question if there was a bias from employers about employees who Work From Home. I set a poll asking this question on LinkedIn and Facebook and 80 people responded.

Only 2.5% said they believed there was no bias against people Working From Home and that businesses understood the limitations. 42.5% said they felt some businesses understand and others don’t. While 55% said that they felt employers have the bias that Working From Home offers far more freedom and flexibility than it really does.

To add to this I saw even more shocking stories in the comment section of what this stereotype has done to people, their living situation and their families, some of them are extreme.

But what surprised me the most is how brazen employers are when questioning the working arrangement of other people who live in their employee’s household.

I fail to see how anyone cannot appreciate how inappropriate and unprofessional that is. If an employee is asking for any kind of leave or change in shift, it is no business of the employer to question why a person outside of their employ cannot perform the task needed.

What flexibility does Working From Home actually offer?

As I said before, it depends on the individual employer how flexible their form of Working From Home is. And the range of that is as long as it is short.

However, if we take it for it’s core definition, this way of working only refers to one thing; the location of where someone does their work.

So in theory, Working From Home in terms of flexibility only really impacts one aspect of someone’s working day. And that is the need to commute into work. This is the only solid difference between an employee who works in an office and one who Works From Home. Every other aspect is completely subjective.

Yet some businesses seem to think that employees who Work From Home have all the free time in the world. I have seen first hand this is not the case.

I know of people who WFH, whose shift patterns including; start time, break times and shift end are just as strictly regimented and monitored as if they were in an office.

Then, I know of people who used to commute to the office and are now casually expected to use the time they used commuting as extra time to spend working.

WFH, Parenting Roles and Unconscious Bias

A point was made by one of the commenters on the poll, questioning whether (when it comes to parents) employers’ attitudes differ depending on which parent is the one Working From Home.

This comment got a fair few likes. Then when I looked further, I realised the majority of people who voted were women and everyone who shared a personal story on the subject was female.

This does beg the question of whether this is a bias on WFH or more unconscious (or perhaps even conscious) bias against women in the workplace who WFH?

This could be yet another insight into the ongoing existence of gender bias and inequality in the workplace. With a bias against mothers Working From Home adding yet another layer to this.

Do I think that this is in actual fact the case? I don’t see the two as mutually exclusive. I believe there are employers who still have gender equality issues and I believe there are employers who have an unfair bias about people who Work From Home. Some of these will overlap and become mixed with one another, but both need addressing.

FTDAWWFH (Free To Do Anything While Working From Home)

Clearly in extremes, this is what some believe Working From Home actually means. There needs to be a serious crash course on what WFH actually is.

Lesson 1 for businesses is reminding them what the ‘W’ stands for. Just because the location of where it is being conducted happens to be home, that doesn’t give the employees the magical ability to be able to take care of all domestic responsibilities while they are at work.

That insinuates that the work they do is less important or easier because they happen to be doing it at home, which clearly isn’t the case. Lesson 2 should be on further flexibility.

It’s clear from our data that some businesses believe WFH is all the flexibility anyone needs. First and foremost, if someone has 8-10 hours worth of work to do in a day, where are they supposed to find time to:

  • Clean the house
  • Do the laundry
  • Pick kids up from school
  • Look after children at home
  • Drop kids off at football, dance, karate etc.
  • Cook meals
  • Look after a sick relative
  • Deal with an unforeseen emergency
  • Go to a doctors, dentist or vet appointment

This list could go on and on, for some people their daily lives consist of this and more. So between all that which they apparently have full availability for, where are they finding the time to complete the 8-10 hours of work that has been set for that day?

Are they expected to work into the early hours of the morning? Because that sounds flexible. So why should they or their wife, husband, partner, mother, father etc. be denied any kind of flexibility to help with any of these responsibilities?

The Solution

Honestly, I think if there are any businesses suffering from any of the aforementioned bias I think they need some serious HR consulting. Working From Home is purely about location, what flexibility comes with that is a totally separate conversation for individual employers to have with their employees.

Although, no employee whether they WFH or not should feel unable to ask for certain needs to be met. And this certainly should not be the case for people who happen to have a member of their household who Works From Home.

There is no other way to put it: that it is not an employer’s business. It is quite literally someone else’s and that business just happens to have their employee Working From Home. And their work is every bit as important, time-consuming and attention requiring as any employee who does not conduct their Work From Home.

Either way, there is definitely a misconception about Working From Home and how flexible it is. The same could be said for the 4-day week which is another hot topic right now. See what John Adams has to to say on the subject and how flexible it really is.

Categories
Flexible Working Future of work

Flexible Working and the Four-Day Week

We all know that one of the major outcomes of the pandemic has been a surge of interest in flexible working. I’ll admit I was a bit concerned this would be a short-term blip but no, I am seeing many more jobs advertised as flexible or employers making clear they are open to remote working.

Interestingly, I had to drive to our local train the other day. Getting a parking space after 8.30am was impossible prior to the pandemic. These days there are always spaces available, a sign that many people are working from home or hybrid working.

Has Working Culture become more Flexible?

Before we get carried away thinking working culture has changed for the better, some organisations seem to be very confused about what flexible working is. Some are offering a thin veneer of flexible working when what they’re actually offering to staff is inflexible working.

Nothing demonstrates this more than the present debate about the four-day working week. There’s even a campaign group calling for a four-day, 32 hour working week with no loss of pay (you can check out its website here).

I have issues with this. Anyone with a genuine interest in flexible working should do. Why? Well, a four-day working week might mean one less day working, but in every other way it is a rigid work pattern. If someone is trying to work flexibly because they have childcare or some other caring responsibility, a four-day working week is unlikely to help much. You still have to organise childcare or fit caring responsibilities around your work hours, hours that are likely to be very rigid.

A Four-Day Week is not always Flexible

Last year, staff from Vice Media Group lobbied management for a four-day working week. When I saw the publicity photograph used to generate publicity for their campaign, I could not help but laugh. It featured a group of Gen Z Vice staff, outside of their office pulling poses that would have looked great on Instagram. I found it very hard to believe that any of them had children or any other sort of caring responsibility.

For Gen Z creatives, a three-day weekend would have meant an extra day to go on a European city-break or to go surfing. I’m not criticising Vice staff. The desire to have more leisure time is a superb reason to work a shorter week. As this poorly thought-out publicity photograph shows, however, there’s only one small demographic who were likely to benefit.

What other impacts does a Four-Day Working Week have?

A further issue with the four-day working week is that work hours often lengthen. Some employers are up-front about this and ask staff to work longer hours in return for a three-day weekend. For others, job design and workload do not change meaning people often sneakily work during the weekend or evenings to keep on top of things.

This, of course, is probably the biggest issue with the four-day working week. In many respects it is based on presenteeism, not outputs. If a particularly efficient employee can complete all their tasks in three days by cutting out the commute and working from home, why not let them work that way?

A further fear of mine is how a four-day working week could impact on gender equality. My concern is that employers will be much more open to female employees working a four-day week on the assumption they have family commitments. This simply reinforces unhelpful gender stereotypes: i.e. men’s correct place is the workplace and for women it’s the home.

A Four-Day Week is just one form of Flexible Working, it won’t suit everyone

A four-day working week should only be one option available in the flexible working mix. For some people it will be the correct approach, but it simply does not work if you impose it on all employees. Employers also need to be very clear about whether staff will be working compressed hours or if they work 32 hours a week and they need to be extra careful about reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Oh, and one further interesting point. Back in 2017, Vice published an article headlined: A 4-Day Work Week Isn’t Necessarily Better For You. It actually makes for a very interesting and balanced read. Isn’t it ironic that it was published by the very people now lobbying to adopt this method of working?

Of course, a Four-Day week is not the only form of flexible work that has been overly focused on by businesses since the pandemic. Hybrid working has been largely looked at by businesses as the only form of flexible working that is necessary. But take a look at why this is not the case and why Hybrid isn’t always flexible.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Future of work Output

Productivity, Productivity, They’ve all got it in for Me!

The figures from the Office of National Statistics are in and they make for very interesting reading. What figures are these? Productivity estimates for Q4, 2021.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. The figures show that remote, flexible working has created a more productive workforce. Not just productive, but a workforce that is more productive working fewer hours.

Line Graph showing the increase of Output Productivity and hours worked from 2008 to 2021.
(Line Graph showing the increase of Output from 2008 to 2021.)

The Productivity Numbers Don’t Lie!

There is a vast amount of statistical detail and analysis behind the figures produced by the ONS so I’ll keep it simple. Prior to the pandemic, average hours worked by UK workers were 32.1 a week. For the final quarter of 2021, it is estimated the average number of hours worked was 31.6 per week. Output, however, was 0.8% above 2019 levels.

Interestingly, on the day these figures were published, my wife had been working in her office. It was the first time she had gone to her workplace for ages. I happened to tell her about the ONS stats and she said: “Well I left the house this morning at 7.30am and I’m just back now, so that’s a 12 hour day and I’ve spent maybe six of that actually working.”

I think my wife’s comment sums up the problem with the old, inflexible working culture. Everyone wasted time commuting to an office to use a laptop when that same device works perfectly well at home.

So to Maximize Productivity should we Abolish Office Working?

No, I am not suggesting we should get away of all offices forever. I think that is unrealistic and they do serve a purpose for team building, training, occasional meetings etc. Nonetheless, the figures suggest a predominantly home-based workforce, one that doesn’t pollute the planet travelling to work each day, is more productive.

I had long wondered what impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on productivity. It was reasonable to think things could be that bad because I didn’t hear any employers saying the productivity of their staff had tanked when the ‘work from home’ orders were in place in England. I have to caution that the ONS stats are estimates, but if they are correct, they show that remote work is productive work (It is also worth noting this set of stats are the first set to be produced following the ending of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which had an impact on productivity levels).

Creating a Productive Future of Working.

What I hope this leads to is a discussion about presenteeism and flexibility. If you can be more productive working fewer hours, why should you be online or in the workplace simply because your contract says you should? Better still, if you can be more productive without travelling to a workplace, why should you experience the stress of making that journey in the first place?

This is particularly relevant for fathers. Research carried out at the beginning of the pandemic by the Fatherhood Institute found dads spent more time with their families and took on more of the domestic burden when they no longer had to commute to work.

Could we possibly reach a point where employment contracts state that they expect you to work: “38 hours a week or until you have completed allotted tasks to your manager’s satisfaction, whichever comes first”? I’d like to think this is the next logical step.

Prioritising Productivity Going Forward.

Now is the time to ask these questions. The work from home order is no longer in place in England and it does feel like we are entering a new phase of the pandemic. Potential conflict in the Ukraine and Prince Andrew’s legal battles are dominating the news headlines (for all the wrong reasons I should stress) but COVID is way down the news agenda. After two years of this nonsense, we seem to be drifting to a point where we are adapting our lives and accepting the fact COVID is here to stay.

What COVID did was get everyone thinking about working culture: Employees, employers, trade unions, academics and policy makers. As part of this drift to a new normal, we must not forget about the progress made in adopting flexible and remote working. There’s now evidence to show productivity has improved by working this way. If anything, now is the time to shout loudest to make sure we don’t slide back to less productive working patterns. After all, unproductive working patterns are bad for everyone.

To find out more about Output based working have a read of our piece on Input and Output – The Human Mechanics of Work!

Categories
Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Lifestyle Mental Health

Dogs Do Good

Why dogs can end isolation and create accessible employment opportunities for the disabled community.

Did you feel lonely, isolated or even a bit ‘stir crazy’ during the last 16 months of the pandemic?

How many of you succumbed to buying a dog as an incentive to get out of the house or just for a good, old cuddle – in these more isolated times?

Whether you’ve found it to be a positive or a negative working from home, we’re all agreed that we feel lucky to be employed after the last 18 months of increase unemployment, recruitment freezes and furlough – all creating an atmosphere of uncertainty about what our economic futures hold.

We can now have a more compassionate understanding of how it must feel to be disabled (whether visibly disabled or invisible).

You can’t take for granted that you’ll have opportunities to live as you’d like, are often cut off from community or work opportunities and can face length periods of loneliness.

Of the 8.4 Million people of working age (16-64) registered as disabled in the UK, only 53.6% are in employment.

Whilst this was an increase year on year (in Oct-Dec 2020), it is still lower in comparison to those who don’t have a disability, with just 18.3% non-disabled people being unemployed – a whopping 35% difference.

As you’d imagine, Covid certainly hasn’t helped matters.

The proportion of disabled people who are either unemployed or economically inactive has risen from 45.9% to 47.7% this year.

That’s over 4 Million people in the UK whose mental health, self-esteem and contact with the outside world, has likely been compromised, by factors completely outside of their own control.

The link between employment and improved self-esteem has long been documented: Unemployment and Mental Health

As this analysis from the Health Organisation points out, unemployment and mental health is bio-directional.

When you have positive mental health, it boosts your employability.

When your employability declines, your mental health can decline and depression and anxiety often appear as financial stresses take their unfortunate toll.

As many of us may have experienced a job loss, loss of earnings, or even just fallen privy to more financial instability during the last 18 months, hopefully we will have more empathy for anyone that’s disability has prevented them from joining the UK workforce and participation in the economy.

This is where Dogs for Good come in.

If your empathy can translate into wanting to take action, maybe as an Employer you could see how we can right some wrongs via the Dogs for Good corporate sponsorship programmes?

Dogs for Good provide assistance dogs to their service users and clients.

Their furry friends literally help revolutionise lives.

Take this story about how Eider has helped Heather go back to work:

Charitable fundraising has been hit hard in the last 18 months by the pandemic and Dogs for Good are no exception.

They’ve suffered a 25% decrease in voluntary income, as face to face fundraising and their usual ‘Challenge’ events have obviously had to be postponed.

In 2020 they qualified 17 new dogs as Assistance dogs – which is only 1/3 of what they had planned for the year.

Plus COVID’s caused an additional challenge – how to support their clients with social distancing measures in place.

Many of DFG’s clients have reported that the long periods of isolation have had a detrimental impact on their mental wellbeing and a further loss of confidence.

While people with assistance dogs have reported that their pet became even more invaluable as a real ‘lifeline’, Dogs for Good have also had to help the dogs themselves, who have suffered by being more confined to ever-shrinking local areas, due to the stricter social distancing guidelines in the first and second waves especially.

Dogs for Good have a waiting list of over 5,000 people enquiring about support dogs.

A dog would enable them to live the best version of their life possible, with far more independence, confidence and open a world of new opportunity.

This year they need to raise £3 million to fund the running and development of the training and facilitation programmes needed to help their amazing clients get back into their communities and back into employment.

Dogs for Good offer a range of corporate sponsorships starting from as little as £1,000 and more bespoke partnerships can be created.

If you have a Corporate Fundraising scheme at work and you’d like to participate in an annual scheme – the Puppy Partnership is £5,000 per year.

Your company can embark (pun embarrassingly intended) on a 12-month relationship with DFG, that will see “your puppy” go through training and socialise with their new ‘family’…. And yes I am blubbing while typing this.

Your company can even name the Puppy – one of the most ethical and brilliant forms of “product placement” I’ve come across this year.

Plus, it’s a really nice opportunity to have a wellbeing boost, amongst your Team.

Who doesn’t love knowing they’re contributing to improving people’s lives? Who doesn’t love getting pictures of dogs?

DFG will send your company regular updates on how the new partnership is going.

Plus, if you happen to help support someone back into employment through your Puppy Sponsorship, your team will ‘KNOW’, they’ve contributed massively towards helping level the playing field when it comes to reducing the number of disabled people in unemployment.

While we appreciate requests for fundraising are at all-time high, those of us working in the HR and recruitment space understand how vital it is, we help mobilise the disabled work force.

In fact, we believe that dogs and technology, (not necessarily our politicians unfortunately), present the best opportunity to change so many people’s lives for the better over the coming years.

We just need a bit of support from You – our friends working within our UK businesses.

Let’s all help benefit society and the economy by making employment accessible to as many people as possible.

Let’s focus on everyone’s ability, not their disability.

This really is the Future of Work we need to see.

A dog really is a friend for life and an actual lifeline for so many.

Get involved today and let’s make Change for Good, with Dogs for Good.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Output Recruitment

The 3 Ts of Productivity – Task, Time and the One that Everyone Forgets About

We generate endless to-do lists for our work and personal lives.

Tasks are logged.

Calendars ensure we do not embarrassingly double book. The latest apps are available with features to mark milestones and keep us on track.

So why are we not always as efficient as we could be? Because tasks and time are not the only part of the productivity mix.

The missing ingredient

We overlook the element that smashes our procrastination, slays our negative thoughts and rejuvenates our weariness. Louis Pasteur, whom we have to thank for immunizations and pasteurized milk, once stated,

Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.

Tenacity is the incredible ability to carry on in the face of challenges, the force that brings us our hard-won triumphs. If the road seems endless and we are running on empty, it is the stubbornness to persist that’s the real driver of success. But the problem with tenacity is that we do not have it all of the time. Levels fluctuate and sometimes erratically.

What eating radishes teaches us

There is no limitless well of tenacity in the same way that there is no infinite source of energy (we all need to sleep).

In the now infamous cookie test, Roy Baumeister placed two groups of volunteers in a room with a batch of tempting, delicious-smelling cookies and some radishes. One group could eat the yummy cookies whilst the other could only munch on the tangy and comparatively less satisfying veg. After a while, the volunteers were given complex tests. The group that had to resist the cookies gave up on problems more easily.

The take-away from this experiment, asserts Baumeister, is that the radish participants used up a part of their store of mental energy in resisting the sweet treats. Their willpower or tenacity was depleted.

A state of mind and a muscle

Tenacity may be seen not solely a state of mind to be summoned at will but a muscle that, when over-used, gets tired and drained. This is a factor that impacts on the productivity of one’s work and personal life. So, what changes can be made?

Top 5 techniques to turbocharge your tenacity

1. Goal focus – It’s inevitable that we have to face up to energy zapping tasks. You may need to chase invoices – again. Despondency sets in. But think instead that this is just one more step to your objective of having as successful business. When things can get dreary, overarching goals are motivators. Seeing the bigger picture will help you get through the smaller, arduous tasks.

2. What is this costing me? – you may put off tasks or do them slowly or less effectively. Ask yourself what this approach is costing you. Energy? Time loss? An unhappy state of mind? Is this the way you want things to be? In order to avoid these negativities, a tenacity boost can perk you up. Sticks are as much motivators as carrots.

3. Flexibility – flexible working has myriad advantages and one of these is being able to fit in your work around your mood. You can move tasks around when you are best able to do them or when you have the most energy to go full pelt. Reschedule for potential.

4. Learn from the past – Think back to all those times when you felt you couldn’t do something but did it anyway. What were the triggers that kept you going? Consider the qualities that you demonstrated at that point and heed them. Those characteristics have not disappeared, even though it feels that way sometimes, and they are still a part of you. Think about your qualities.

5. Quick fixes – There are various ways to encourage tenacity to take root even if you feel overwhelmed. Practising mindfulness soothes a jittering mind. Relaxation techniques ease tension out of the body and they only take a few minutes. A short but brisk cardio-pumping walk cracks stagnation. Devise your own tenacity playlist and turn up the volume on music that is pitch perfect for you.

Does it really work in practice?

From the whole Find Your Flex team, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!”. We operate completely flexibly and are encouraged to engage when suits us best. We adopt an output based attitude rather than concentrating on set hours and rigid employment structures. This is an empowering approach for us all to reach our targets but in our own personal and most effective way. We have tried it and we can say that it works.

Your mental power tool is tenacity

Task and time remain the building blocks for effective diary management. You absolutely need to define what needs to be done and how long it will take – especially if you are charging yourself and your skills out to make a profit. Nonetheless it is possible to alter your mindset to give it a boost and replenish your reserves.

To enhance your own “Output” and to get more out of your day, use ways to tap into your tenacity.

It is an oft forgotten innate power tool – One that you can use to drill deep for success.

Categories
A Day In The Life Of... Careers Flexible Working Future of work

A Day in the Life Of a Founder and CEO: Alex Tomchenko

Alex is the Founder and CEO of Glambook; an all-in-one platform created to aid beauty professionals grow their budding businesses. Alex has an extremely positive and forward-thinking outlook on the life of a CEO. He highlights how much time, dedication and hard work it takes to build a thriving business. While also pointing out the need to decompress when you can and leave business at the door and make time for yourself. 

Alex also has some unique views on the meaning of progress and how transferable skills can be used to help build a brand. He also points out the importance of utilizing fresh talent prepared to soak up new ways of doing things and how this can be more beneficial to growing businesses than recruiting based on experience. This is definitely a mindset geared toward the future of working and we are excited to learn more about Alex and his working life as a Founder and CEO.   

What does a working day look like for a Founder & CEO?

I wake up at 7:00am and after a nutritious breakfast I start checking my inbox and messages. We meet with the team at 9:00am to help us align on priorities and set up the tone for the day. Before lunch, I’m focused on monitoring our results and growth and take a few more business meetings. After lunch, I spend time on mapping out business goals and tasks, aligning on workflow and hosting additional meetings. Towards the end of the day, I look at our daily progress and that helps me identify our goals and tasks for the next day. I go to bed at 11:30pm.

How do you find a work life balance?

To be honest, it’s not easy to strike a perfect work and life balance during the growth stage of a startup. What helps is that I work on something that I’m truly passionate about and I do it together with my wife, who is my co-founder. While we don’t have a strict schedule that divides our business and personal lives, we manage to find time for both. Usually, we are busy with work during the day and late evenings are reserved for things not related to business.

Are there opportunities to progress?

Progress is an important part of life. However, progress doesn’t necessarily mean doing something new. Often, it’s finding a new way to do something. At Glambook, we’re doing just that, finding a way to transition the beauty industry into the digital space. I’m a believer that opportunities for progress are always here and they will always be available.

What is the best part about being Founder & CEO?

The best part of my job is to have freedom to create a product the way you envision it. To create a product that will bring value to your users. If you can’t find something that works for you, you can create it. During my 13+ years spearheading a digital marketing agency, I gained valuable experience in promoting and growing other people’s products, so now I am fortunate to have an opportunity to finally use those skills and experience to build and grow my own product.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

Challenges help you have a different perspective, think outside of the box and look for alternatives, which means constant growth and development. I’m not a big fan of formalities – to have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting, or create documents for the sake of having them, so I prefer to focus on things that matter, bring value and make a process more meaningful.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give to them?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This is something I’ve learned the hard way during my time at the digital marketing agency. It’s a much smoother and easier task to bring a beginner up to speed than trying to ask an established expert to re-learn and do things differently. An established professional may already have their own point of view and past experiences that prevent them from seeing a full picture. For someone who is just starting out in a new industry, there’s a much higher chance of being successful. Be curious, goal-oriented and motivated by the project you’re about to kick off. As the saying goes, if you’re trying to do the impossible, do it with people who don’t know that this is impossible.

THANK YOU TO ALEX FOR SHARING HIS INSIGHTS AS A FOUNDER AND CEO WITH US!

These were some amazing and unique insights from Alex, who shows us what it means to have the entrepreneur mindset, having not only the passion to create something unique but also to keep your eye on the future. Alex showcases a forward-thinking mindset, highlighting the fact that experience isn’t everything and if you do have experience, it is important to be flexible in your approach to different aspects of business. A refreshing take on the working life of a Founder and CEO! Alex also made the point of how his skills in marketing were transferable when creating his own product and business, which is something all of our readers should consider. We hope you enjoyed reading all about Alex’s amazing and interesting work life!

For other takes on the working life of a Founder and CEO why not have a read of A Day in the Life Of a Founder and CEO: Alex Bozhin.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Future of work Industry Flexers

Career Flexibility

When it comes to getting what you want from your career, having an attitude of flexibility can help you to take advantage of all the possibilities.

To have Career Flexibility and achieve your goals, you’ll want to set your boundaries. What are the areas where you can’t or won’t compromise? Salary? Location? Hours? Could you be tempted to travel further for more money or to work more hours for a really good role? If you can say ‘nothing would tempt me…’ then you know that you’ve drawn your line in the sand!

How could you achieve your aims by working differently? Often our attitudes to employment are quite rigid. We are limited by what we have done and influenced by our families and friends.

What would life look like beyond PAYE? How do you feel about self-employment? Freelancing? Consultancy? Employing others? If you have concerns, how could you address them? Could you combine self-employment with a part-time or seasonal PAYE role for security? If you worry about finding work, could you work as a freelancer or consultant for someone else?

Could you work two or more different jobs (sometimes known as a portfolio career)? This could broaden your horizons or allow you to experiment safely in a new career direction knowing that the old one is still bringing in money.

Could you job share your previous role or a new one? This could open up a wealth of more senior and interesting roles that aren’t advertised as part time.

Could you develop a hobby or interest into a side hustle? How could that become your main source of income?

In what areas, are you an ‘expert’? Not the world expert, but knowledgeable and experienced in a particular area. Is there something you know how to do that you could teach or train others to do?

Would you retrain to upskill or update your career? Would you retrain in order to change careers completely?

Whatever the job market or economic situation, Career Flexibility is a mindset for personal growth and new opportunities.

Career Coaching and Training to Relaunch Careers

Re-establishing your career after a parental career break or redundancy can be a daunting prospect. You may not be able to return to the job you did before, or your priorities may have changed and you would like to do something different. Whether your career gap is months or years, we are here to help.

The four things we cover:

1. Career Clarity – work out what to do next and how to get there.

2. CV-Writing – refresh or start your CV from scratch ready to market your expertise. We can also help you create a LinkedIn profile for the opportunities you want to attract.

3. Job Search – use your time effectively and efficiently to find the right job for you.

4. Interview Skills – regain confidence using our three step approach for interview success.

We do this through standalone e-learning and blended coaching programmes.

View our career programmes http://bit.ly/careercoachingprogrammes

Book a free career consultation https://bit.ly/careerconsultcp

Get your free guide to discover the best sites for flexible jobs https://bit.ly/flexjobsites

Join our Facebook Group for career break mums: https://www.facebook.com/groups/careerbreakmumsbycoachingpartners

Categories
Flexible Working Future of work Students and Graduates

Flexible Working: A Youth-Centred Approach to the Future

Oh to be in the flush of youth – light-hearted, happy-go-lucky, single (or at least on Tindr). With so many advantages, it is often assumed that flexible working is not much of a need or concern for the fresh-faced who are still in their salad days. Yet, those just starting out in life face a myriad of issues for which agile work formats can provide a solution.

Student Costs

Tuition fees are high, upwards of £9,000 and repayable with interest. Added to the cost of living away from home, many students are saddled with debt that they will spend perhaps decades paying off. Even the maintenance living grants are often not sufficient to cover the basics. “For many, wages from part-time work are the only way students can make ends meet,” states Sir Peter Lampl of The Sutton Trust.

Juggling intellectually strenuous courses with part-time jobs is not an easy balance to pull off. But without flexible work, many people simply could not afford a tertiary or further education. When we leave people unable to improve themselves and their prospects, both our society and our economy suffer. Flex is key to this.

Flexible Internships

To get work experience, you need work experience. It’s the circular system that holds many people back. Internships are difficult to get in the first place, as many seem to come through word-of-mouth, family connections or privileged social networks. There does not seem to be enough internships to go around.

A more radical idea would be to introduce job-share internships, with each person doing 2.5 days per week. Doubtless this would require careful management, especially when it comes to handovers. But it is a possible option that would mean that double the number of people would gain at least some experience and something to put on their CVs to move their careers forward. Businesses would, in turn, get the benefit of having more people to assess for specific roles.

Neurodiversity

Youth seems to be the most care-free time of our life but the statistics on the incidence of mental health do not relate merely to those who are older. But making small change can have a significant impact. For example, a person with depression (which can often be worse in the morning) who is allowed to come into work at 10am and work later in the day can get a job and can keep that job. Employed, contributing, paying tax – this is what young people can have if reasonable adjustments are made to their particular situation.

If you want to find out more about what neurodiverse people can do if businesses provide the right working conditions and flexible working opportunities, check out our piece that expands on this subject.

Carer Responsibilities

Many young people take care of elderly relatives at home. By assuming such duties, they save the taxpayer huge amounts of money, thus shouldering up an already creaking and under-resourced care system. But this can only be fair if the carer has some opportunity to work flexibly around these responsibilities.

The consequences of removing flexible working from the equation are two-fold. First, whilst taking on such caring tasks is humane, worthwhile and honourable, it leaves the carer with little else to put on their CV. This in turn limits the kinds of roles young carers can apply for. Secondly, carers may become trapped in a system of living on carer-related benefits because of their limited skills. Young people have dreams – and should be given an opportunity to accomplish them. Flexible working allows the possibility both for caring and for young people to fulfill their aspirations and potential.

Young people are our future world. So, it’s really never too early to enter flexible working.

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A Day In The Life Of... Careers Flexible Working Future of work Meet the Team

Meet Kristina: Flexible Working Life of a Team Administrator

Administration is an intricate part of every industry, Administrators keep the wheels turning. Yet the role itself kind of has the stigma of being a 9 to 5 office job and perhaps that stigma is real. But we at Find Your Flex are aiming to ensure that in future no role has this stigma. And administration is an industry that needs to incorporate Flexible Working into all of its roles. There can be no greater example of this than our own Team Administrator Kristina Mich. Who has consented to share with us her unique journey to Flexible Working and why she now has a passion to bring it to others in her industry as you will see in the video below!

Journey to being a Flexible Working Mum

Kristina’s journey to Flexible Working starts in a very relatable way and one of the main reasons why Find Your Flex got started. Kristina became a Mum and naturally this became her top priority. However, Kristina found herself missing the woman she was before Motherhood; a passionate driven career woman who is passionate about helping teams reach their goals.

Though unfortunately, early on Kristina faced the harsh reality that many businesses are more concerned about the time you dedicate to them. Rather than working with you to see what hours are best for you and how you can be most productive. Kristina grew tired of fruitless job interviews with employers who did not respect her family needs. When she came across Find Your Flex, she was impressed by what she saw and it seemed to be the perfect company for her to be a part of. She took a chance and emailed our CEO Cheney Hamilton and it became clear things happen for a reason.

Flexible Working = Flourishing Talent

Kristina received a response and an interview from Cheney. And of course Kristina showcased every value and ideal that Find Your Flex was built upon. Within no time at all she was part of a team and environment that Kristina dived head first into and quickly proved herself to be a talented and dedicated individual! She quickly put her skills to good use and dedicated herself to picking everything up extremely quickly. She wasted no time in proving her value by getting to know each member of the team and being supportive and encouraging. As well as providing some unique resources only she could provide (some of these are showcased in the video below).

Kristina found the work-life balance she had been searching for. Feeling fulfilled in a role that allowed her to work from home without the need to commute via a train journey that could take hours. She is able to be the excellent Mother she is, as well as being the equally excellent Team Administrator for Find Your Flex. Having the ability to lead a full family life while having a flourishing professional life she can excel and grow in. But staying true to her innate personality traits, Kristina shows that she doesn’t want to be the only one to have the chance at having a Flexible Working role.

Bringing Flexible Working to every Industry

Like the rest of the Find Your Flex team, Kristina’s personal career journey lit a fire within her. After seeing firsthand the lack of adaptability of other employers and that the grass is greener on the other side of the Flexible Working hill. Kristina is eager as part of the Find Your Flex team to bring Flexible Working to people. Not only people in her own situation, but to everyone!

Kristina puts it very well in the video below, why should businesses incorporate Flexible Working into all their roles? “It just makes sense.” as she points out; work and life are intertwined. If your employees are happy they will work harder and add bring more value to your company. It is a lot simpler than some businesses make it out to be. And Kristina is a great example of how Flexible Working does work!

In Kristina’s own words:

Thank You Kristina for sharing your insights with us!

If you are inspired by Kristina’s experience, and want to start your own journey towards Flexible Working. You can start by checking out all our live job roles here.

Kristina is an invaluable part of our team. Want to learn about the rest of our team too? And why we are all invested and passionate about making Flexible Working available for everyone? If so you can meet all us here!

Thank you again Kristina for being a force that will one day make Flexible Working available for everyone!

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A Day In The Life Of... Business Career Returners Careers Flexible Working

A Day in the Life Of a Life & Business Coach: Veena Hedges

The most inspiring roles are ones that help people bring their dreams to fruition. The primary goal of a Life & Business Coach is to provide people with the tools and support to help them achieve their goals. But what does a working day of a Life and Business Coach look like?

We are excited to hear from the amazing Veena Hedges. Veena has had many experiences already throughout her career journey; from starring in shows such as Grange Hill, Children’s Ward and the Bill, to earning a degree in business management and starting and running two companies in global recruitment and property respectively.

These are just some of the professional accomplishments in Veena’s life and now she helps others achieve their goals as a Life and Business Coach. We at Find Your Flex could not think of anyone better equipped!

What does a working day look like for a Life & Business Coach?

It looks the way I want it to look. First comes looking after me, then comes looking after my clients and in-between comes looking after the family.

How do you find a work life balance?

Through taking the time to sit with a coach and primarily working out what’s most important to me. Then, with their support, making a plan to find time and space to fit everything in, making sure the important bits are put in first.

Are there opportunities to progress?

Always! Everything is changing all the time, anything that sits still grows mold, even water. As humans our challenge is to keep embracing change, be in front of the curve, be open to new exciting opportunities everywhere. In work, in travel, in cuisine, in relationships, in entertainment, in books, in fashion etc. Every time we learn something new, we are progressing. Self development is the meaning of being born human, why we are put on this earth.

What is the best part about being Life & Business Coach?

To support and encourage a person’s metamorphosis from a caterpillar to butterfly. It inspires me, gives me a sense of wonderment and purpose.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

I’m not so great at selling myself.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give to them?

I would ask them if they like helping people and if they’re able to support someone make their own decisions without any judgment, advice or own ideas into the mix. I would advise them to get a proper qualification from The Coaching Academy which is the accredited body.

THANK YOU TO VEENA FOR SHARING HER INSIGHTS AS A LIFE & BUSINESS COACH!

Veena has really shined a light on not only the ins and outs of being a Life and Business Coach, but the importance of work-life balance. Veena’s views on how life must come first and how work needs to be prioritised is truly inspiring. This exactly what we at Find Your Flex want everyone to recognise. We thank Veena for this amazing piece that will inspire our readers!

To learn more about Veena’s journey and if you yourself feel you would benefit from her expertise, check out her website here.

If you want to find out about the work days of other careers, why not have a read of A Day in the Life Of a Co-Founder and CPO: Jacob Sever?

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