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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!

Categories
Business Flexible Working Future of work

The Great Resignation… will your business feel the impact?

70% of FindYourFlex users polled between the 5th & 12th of July 2021 are CURRENTLY EMPLOYED and are pro-actively seeking MORE FLEXIBLE employment opportunities.

Last month a staggering 4 million people in the US quit their jobs (US Labor Department). This is the highest number since records began in December 2000. 

Interestingly but not surprising, more than 740k worked in the leisure and hospitality industry. This includes jobs in hotels, bars and restaurants, theme parks and other entertainment venues. Noticeably all employers who have been impacted most by changes to lockdowns, mask wearing, furloughs and availability of shifts.  However, that still leaves a whooping 3.3M people resigning from the more ‘covid resilient’ sectors.

So what is causing this great resignation and is the same happening here in the UK?

A study in the UK, has found a lot of people (38% of those currently employed) are seriously thinking about quitting OR are looking to change roles in the next year.

The cause is unknown. Could we assume it is a temporary rebound from people deciding to hold on to their jobs during the pandemic? Or is something more permanent on the horizon?

Perhaps people are finding they’re unhappy with how they’ve been handled during the pandemic? Perhaps having the flexibility people have grown to love is being revoked as they approach the ‘great return’? Or, is it simply burnout?

The Find Your Flex team has always said that an employee’s alignment with their company’s culture, behaviours and values will become increasingly important. For some, it’s the key driver in deciding where they work. 

So which is the right answer, what is happening with this great resignation?

Well, in our opinion, this mass resignation tells us that the balance of power has shifted. 

The Personio study of 2,000 employees found that there’s a worrying disconnect between employers’ perception of what will encourage their staff to leave and employees’ reality. 

Reinforcing this, and according to a recent report from Microsoft 

  • 41% of the global workforce is considering leaving their jobs. 
  • One in five of the global survey respondents say their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance. 
  • 54% feel overworked. 
  • 39% feel exhausted. 
  • And trillions of productivity signals from Microsoft 365 quantify the precise ‘digital exhaustion’ workers are feeling.

However, the findings of the Personio study found that HR decision makers underestimate the pushing power of a toxic workplace culture. Instead, HR decision makers believed factors such as furlough, being asked to go back to the office full-time or a reduction in benefits would have the biggest influence on an employee’s leaving.

As we are currently seeing on jobs.findyourflex.co.uk this July, 70% of job seekers are employees who are exercising their right to choose for who, where and how they work.  

The next move for employers is a no brainer 

Treat employees fairly and take a long hard look at your company values, culture and behaviours. 

  • If you are one of the businesses saying – what is this great resignation? We love our staff and they have remained with us. Then fabulous – get in touch so we can shout your story from the (virtual) rooftops.
  • If you are nodding your head in agreement and your organisation has seen high rates of attrition then perhaps we need to dig deeper. We need to find solutions that will help you realign your company values and flexible working policies. This will lead to greater staff retention and attracting new talent.

So what of the remaining 30% of jobseekers, not currently in employment?

Research from the CIPD and Office of National Statistics in June, reflects the biggest impact on joblessness has been on our older workforce. This trend has been happening since January 21′ on our platform, with the 45+ age group growing to 30% of our audience share. The research however fails to show the impact that Covid amplified by automation, has also made on the younger generations and specifically for women throughout the last 18 months. 

So with those audience groups in mind, along with the UK’s appetite to build back with a focus on greater diversity and inclusivity, we really must use this time to look at realign our businesses values & flexibility on offer.

If businesses don’t know how to implement flexibility in their workforce, the easiest thing to do is to create each role as an output. Promoting and monetising a workforce in this way allows businesses to finally move their employees from a ‘fixed cost – liability’ to a ‘variable cost – asset’. It will show you for the first time how really flexible you can afford to be.

I’m happy to talk to any business who wants to know more.

My final thoughts…

I think many of us have felt burnt out emotionally and physically over the last 18 months. Now that we can get out more and start to work in more places, it will become vitally important to become more healthy about work.  Wellbeing, balance, culture and value driven behaviours have got to take centre stage in the future of work.  

With support from the Government, pro-activity and trust given by employers and encouragement, open communication and adoption by employees, will the threat of the great resignation be lifted.

Cheney Hamilton

CEO and founder, The Find Your Flex Group

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Flexible Working Future of work Parental

Flexible Working Builds Better Communities

It is minus 20°C and it has been pitch dark since two o’clock in the afternoon. Around 4.30pm a throng of parents wait for their little ones in a floodlit school playground in wintery Helsinki. Much chatter can be heard amongst people stamping their feet and rubbing their hands against the cold. I am often the only women in this congregation and we swap advice and make plans to meet up with or without our children. The atmosphere, in contrast to the unrelenting weather, is warm and friendly. This is the community that flexible working built.

Personal and public

Flex working patterns are seen as individualised, as they are tailored to meet a specific person’s needs whether related to childcare or other aspects of life. This is a desirable and effective approach which promotes a good work/life balance. However, the cumulative effect that agile work formats have on communities is underestimated. If everyone has the chance to work flexibly, this has a knock-on effect on how we organise our lives and how interact with others in our social milieu.

Starting at the Finnish end

In Finland, flexibility starts early. Initially introduced to meet the needs of parents, alternative work patterns have become so widespread and accepted that their use for those without children is now practicable. After all, the systems are already in place. When children do come along, parental leave packages are generous and, yes, fathers get a shot at it too. Already happy bubbles of new parents start meeting up – most importantly encompassing both genders.

In London, my husband was the only father at the school gates for pick up. In Helsinki, he was one among many and developed a good social network. When he took shared parental leave in the UK, he took it alone. In Finland there would have been whole groups of Dads (and Mums) to join.

Gender segregation in child rearing is much less apparent in Helsinki and I was often invited by the fathers to join them for coffee and for outings. When I wanted to arrange a playdate or needed to know something in relation to my son (where is the best dentist?) it was often a father that I rang up. It was interesting and heartening to see so many men take on the family admin which usually falls to the women. “We get to be around more, so we do more,” explained one father.

Flexibility oils the system

The reason for this type of interaction and societal structures is largely down to flexible working. Men and women both have the chance to arrange their lives to best suit their circumstances. Admittedly cost-effective childcare does play a role. For a whole month of afternoon playtime (school finishes at 1.30pm) including a hot snack until a 5pm pick-up, I paid just £140. In some places in the UK, you would be lucky to get 3 afternoons for that amount.

But there is little point in having affordable childcare unless a parent – ideally both – can actually make it out of the office for the pick-up. Jan, a busy lawyer who is a state prosecutor, says, “I have to leave early twice a week because my wife also works. So that is what I do. And I want to.” His wife, Krista, who works in banking, has just been promoted. Flexibility for men not only benefits them but has an impact on how women progress in their careers. Finland’s Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, was elected to the post whilst still just in her early thirties and with a baby in her arms.

Happy flexible days

For four consecutive years Finland was named as the happiest country in the world by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network which publishes, annually, a report gauging the happiness of people around the world. Moving to live in Helsinki certainly made us smile.

Susha Chandrasekhar

Categories
Careers Equality and Diversity Future of work

Are We Doing Enough For Women In STEM Roles?

There’s no denying the gender gap that exists in so many industries, women in STEM roles are sadly no exception to this. But research into this has raised some concerning questions and even more concerning answers. There are not enough women in STEM roles, that much is clear but is enough being done to change that?

With the Edinburgh Science Festival coming up, we at Find Your Flex thought this is a topic we want to discuss. Exploring why this is still an issue and the possible solutions to this and why change in this area is so important.

Is there a gender gap in STEM industries?

Naturally we don’t just want to state there is a gender gap without backing it up. But the short answer is yes; there is a significant gap when it comes to women in STEM roles. This is proven by the PwC’s Tech She Can Charter and their report on Women in Tech in the UK. In 2017, WISE conducted research that showed that only 23% of people in STEM occupations were female. This makes over three quarters of the workforce in these roles male. Whats worse is that a separate study in the US shows that only 5% of women were in STEM leadership roles.

Now it would not be fair to say there has been no progress. As the research of WISE revealed that the number of women in STEM roles had increased by 2% from the previous year. Is this progress? Yes… is it enough? No. If this increase per year holds steady it would still be over a decade before there is an equal number of men and women in STEM roles. That is also not taking the pandemic into consideration, this could have had an impact on that increase percentage one way or the other. Either way it is not good enough, the gap needs to be closed at a far quicker rate. So, where does the problem begin?

The Lack of Girls Studying STEM Subjects in School

There are a lot of employment issues that when traced back to their source can start in education. PwC’s research shows that this issue may be no different. They conducted a survey that of over 1000 school students; 83% of the males were studying STEM subjects, compared with only 64% females. Now 19% may not seem like much of a difference however, when you take into account the number of STEM subjects and the number of students, this is still a concerning gap.

A similar statistic in university students studying STEM subjects shows a 52% male versus 30% female difference. But when you break it down the results are more shocking. For example Engineering takes 13% of male STEM students but only 2% female, which says a lot. But it still doesn’t answer the question of why? During interviews, young women stated they didn’t want to study STEM subject as it does not factor into the career they want. Though what is worrying is the response when asked if at any point during their education (including careers advice) a role in technology was suggested. Only 16% of girls had technology careers suggested to them, whereas 33% of males were given these suggestions.

This goes hand in hand with the fact that during interviews many of the young women indicated that many STEM subjects and roles are male dominated which is why they did not wish to study them. And they are right, these statistics prove that. But they also sadly prove that schools are not doing enough to encourage otherwise. And this needs to change.

Early years education and STEM

As signatories of The Tech Talent Charter we are aware of such organisations such as Tech She Can. A charter in which signatories pledge to work with  schools across the UK to educate and inspire pupils and teachers about technology careers.

Let’s not forget the importance of early years education. These children are our future. A future that needs the brightest and most imaginative individuals to be able to flourish, regardless of gender or background. This is the point when children absorb information like sponges. The formative stage where children learn more quickly that at any other stage in life. It is at this point we need to inspire our children. Our young girls need role models and a complete removal from gender bias in STEM. Perhaps the focus should be on our teachers and equipping them with the tools needed to do this.

Women in STEM roles in the Media and Pop-Culture

In PwC’s study, only 22% of students could name a well-known female working in technology. The truth is when you think of famous people in STEM roles, the vast majority are male. There are of course many pioneering women in STEM roles throughout history. Women like Ada Lovelace or Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and many more. Yet despite the numerous women who have revolutionized the world through their work in STEM roles, their names don’t immediately spring to mind. We tend to think of the Steven Hawkings or Albert Einsteins, but why? It could be down to the fact the media over the years have recognized and celebrated the male figures over women. Perhaps the media should be doing more to promote women in STEM roles. Especially during the pandemic, both men and women dealing with this issue have given information and opinions via news channels and in print.

In terms of pop-culture, there are women portrayed in STEM roles in film and particularly television. One that comes to mind is The Big Bang Theory, a comedy that originally started with a cast in which all the scientists were male. Though this changed as the series progressed with female scientists being showcased and two becoming mainstay cast members. Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz with a Ph. D in microbiology and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler a neurobiologist, the latter of whom’s actress has a Ph. D in neuroscience in real life. The show and characters are to this day extremely popular. The two showcased how the females of the group were just as intelligent and successful as their male counterparts and had equally large personalities.

Though other hit television shows have also portrayed STEM female role models. Shows such as Body of Proof; featuring a female protagonist Dr. Megan Hunt; a former Neurosurgeon turned Medical Examiner who has a straight-talking, never-back-down attitude. Even featuring a female in a STEM leadership role as Dr. Kate Murphy is the Chief Medical Examiner. Though there are other shows that showcase females in STEM roles: Grays Anatomy, Casualty, Holby City, Doctor Who etc. So in terms of pop-culture there isn’t a lack of fictional females in STEM roles, so why is there still a lack of non-fictional females in these roles? Its high time life started imitating art on that score.

How to get More Women In STEM roles?

PwC believe that the technology sector must take steps to deal with some of these highlighted issues. However, this should be the responsibility of all STEM industries to get more women into STEM roles as a whole. First and foremost it is the responsibility of STEM organisations to get more involved in the education of young people. They need to do more to raise awareness and showcase the importance of these roles. Make them attractive to young women as well as men. Many students did indicate the reason they wouldn’t consider a role in technology is they don’t know enough about it. STEM organisations should also look inwards to ensure they are providing the women in their company with the same opportunities as the men. More women in senior STEM roles creates more role models and inspirations for future generations.

Schools also need to do better in encouraging girls to study STEM subjects and pursue STEM careers. The statistics above show there is not enough encouragement or access on either front. If girls voice concerns on entering male dominant industries, there needs to be encouragement to overcome this. The research showed roles that make a difference were appealing to young women. Therefore there should be encouragement from both schools and STEM organisations that pursuing these roles makes a difference. A shift in perception is the first and arguably most important step.

The media need to do better at portraying female STEM role models. Make a bigger splash about the life altering contributions females make in STEM fields. Its important that these women are at the forefront of STEM fields to give young women something to aspire to and show them that they are just a capable as any males in this area. Pop-culture is doing a good job at presenting women in these roles, however there is room for improvement. Perhaps television, film and books aimed at a much younger audience should feature more STEM characters. This very well could plant the seeds of girls pursuing STEM fields when they are older.

Hopefully when young girls are grown up enough to make a decision whether or not to pursue a STEM career, the world will be a different place. One where there are just as many female role models in this sector and no obstacles. Its up to society to drive these changes, we need do our best now to set the wheels in motion.

If you want to read more about inspirational women in this and other fields click here! Or more about The Tech Talent Charter then click here.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Future of work Output

Input and Output – The Human Mechanics of Work

In work, how much focus is there on input as opposed to output? Jobs and projects are often defined by the number of hours that must be worked, where and when they must be worked, the personal qualities and experiences that are required to be inputted and so on. By defining such matters at the outset, there is a sense that this will inexorably lead to the desired result.

Time and Motion

A prominent human time-motion study was carried out by Frederick Taylor. An employee’s work in a factory would be timed with a stopwatch and from that the output would be calculated. Human beings were treated as automatons and indeed much of the manufacturing work done in Taylor’s era would be done by machines today. There was an emphasis on control within strictly defined limits with no flexibility for a person to manage their own input in the way that suited them and their lives in order to reach the same output destination.

Start at the destination

Output is crucial as it is how we define and measure attainment and how we tackle the bottom line of making money.

Begin with the end in mind.

Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

This method requires having a clear, overriding vision of what the outcome should be and then crystallising that into a useable set of statements. If you have an output mission statement, the question arises as to what extent you need to control input.

Job descriptions

The most immediate way of controlling input is through a job description which refers exclusively to inputs rather than outputs. Many such statements also contain a plethora of attributes that may not actually be required for the job in hand.

For example, “outgoing” may be used as recruiting requirement for new employees. But if a person is working from home on invoicing with little direct human contact, is “outgoing” really an absolutely necessary quality? The output is that a certain number of invoices need to be processed in timely manner. If that is fulfilled, the intended outcome has been reached. The employee concerned may indeed be an introvert or someone who is neurodiverse but who thrives on procedure and steadily gets the job done well.

Monitoring

Getting the most out of employees and hitting targets is an art form, with styles ranging from micro-management to complete laissez-faire. By focusing on the output, however, a worker has more freedom about how to reach the point of success.

Clearly some sectors are, of their nature, regimented. NHS nurses and those operating customer service helplines must be present at certain times and follow defined procedures. But a more nuanced approach can be used to effect where there is scope for autonomy.

For example, if you need a project to be completed in a month, is it necessary to dictate exactly how it is done? A person can work flexibly to suit their needs, doing the work later on in the evening, at home, or whenever is convenient. Obviously, the worker would need to be available to participate in relevant team meetings and would need some supervision along the way. But checking in on whether the work is being doing correctly is not the same as checking up how the employee is doing it in terms of personal time management and working strategy.

Mechanisms

When it comes to machines, we have chemistry and physics equations to help us determine precisely what goes in, when, in what proportions and what should come out. Humans are rather more complicated, approaching matters according to their personal characteristics, commitments and lifestyles. When it comes to people, different inputs can create the same output. With that in mind, it’s now time to take the “output challenge” and review how we recruit and manage people

Categories
Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Future of work

Flex Working – An Age Old Question

At what age do you no longer need flex working? It is often assumed that people in the later stages of life make little use of this option as their responsibilities have diminished and their stress curves have flattened. Perhaps they are even comfortably retired and are in their rocking chairs watching Gardeners World? The reality is that people are toiling longer than their forebears, thus precipitating a generational change that impacts on how we view and facilitate employment.

Adding up the numbers                               

With the state pension spiralling upwards, the brutal truth is that many people have no choice but to soldier on. As was demonstrated with the furore that arose when the pension age for women was dramatically raised from 60 to 65, we cannot be sure what the future holds. Flex keeps the older generation in employment and particularly so when health issues rear their head. Agile work formats mean people can avoid the detrimental effects of pension poverty whilst also continuing to contributeto the state and more widely to society.

A Wealth of Experience

The older generation brings much to the workplace in terms of expertise and mentoring that should not be overlooked. By not offering flex working, all these advantages are lost as people step out of the economy taking so much of note and merit with them. Age is as much a protected characteristic under the Equality Act as gender, race or sexuality and should not be viewed as a justification for negatively predetermining talent or capability.

Offering flexibility to retain the talent of older employees is crucial. Workplaces can then become more diverse andinformed environments. We can all benefit from harnessing decades of valuable experience.”

Stephen Burke, Director of United for All Ages

Artificial age-based constructs help no-one. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, one day we will be judged not on our birth certificates but on the content of our character.

Childcare and Kinship Care

Government statistics indicate that 1 in 4 working families rely on grandparents for childcare and 63% of grandparents with grandchildren under 16 help out with childcare. This is not just about a spot of evening babysitting but rather such assistance plays a critical role in enabling parents to work. The childcare they provide is worth £7.3 billion a year as estimated by the charities Age UK and Grandparents Plus.

When older people can work flexibly, they support the younger generation to achieve their goals and potential. Since the major part of childcare is done by women, this has an impact on how women progress professionally and on issues such as narrowing the gender pay gap.

In complex cases, older family members may come forward in to look after children when the parents cannot, as an alternative to foster care. Flex helps to keep children at home, and it has been shown time and time again that staying with the birth family produces more successful outcomes.

It is not merely about having a better social upbringing. There is a domino effect for all of us. When, for example, grandparents step in to care instead of the state, they save the taxpayer money and resources. Flex working is a vital part of that process.”

Lucy Peake, CEO of the charity, Kinship

An Unstoppable Demographic

We are living longer and the proportion of the older generation relative to the population as a whole is increasing. Age is not something we can control and (barring a tragic early demise) it will happen to us regardless. We all have a strong vested interest it. Do we really want a system that sabotages our future selves? For harnessing experience, for better family and social relationships, for fairness – that is why flex working is required for the later ages and stages of our lives.

Categories
Automation Digital Skills Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Future of work 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 Future of work

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.

emails suck right? Not ours.

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