Flexible Working – What Does It Mean To You?


Let’s talk about flex baby… Flexible working that is.

What with coming back from maternity leave recently and juggling a career, flexible working has been at the forefront of my mind. It was compounded this last week by two of my friends handing in their notice from great career’s and well paid jobs.

Why did they do this?

In the main because of the long hours, long commutes and the general lack of flexibility shown by their employers in helping them find a balance. These intelligent, kick-ass Mama’s are now faced with an uncertain (but hopefully bright) future after many years of hard work and dedication to their roles. I’d hazard a guess that this is not a unique story.

That’s just not right is it?! In fact it makes me downright angry. Whilst I’m sure that these ladies will go on to bigger and better things (hello blogging!) they should not have been made to feel this way in the first place.

Flexible working is not possible or practical in some career avenues and I appreciate that. If you are a doctor for example, you’re going to have a hell of a time of diagnosing kidney stones via Skype. However, for myself and many of my Mum friends who are office based, flexible working should be an option. It’s necessary and hello?! it’s not as though parents at work are in the minority. We form a huge portion of the workforce and these issues are hardly rarities.

I’m not talking about the kind of flexible working where you flit in and out of the office on a whim. I am talking about the kind where if you  need to leave early to do the school run, you can but you then log on and finish that presentation later that evening when the kids are (hopefully) in bed.

That kind of flexibility. That is what is so often missing and yet is so needed.

For me, a lack of flexibility in a job where it would be feasible is actually akin to discrimination. Employers are discriminating against the employees who have dependants by making it impossible to balance career and family.

Flexible Working

Flexible working is actually more than just where you work from. It’s about give and take between employer and employee. Working from wherever you need to be and making the best use of technology to communicate with colleagues and customers, whenever you need to work.

So what is stopping employers from considering a more modern, flexible approach?

If it is a trust issue then this seems an outdated and demotivating stance to take. Can’t trust your employee to work flexibly? Then why hire them in the first place?

We have all the technology to work flexibly in the 21st century, just it would appear often not the foresight. This is a crying shame when it means losing key talented individuals who love their jobs but have dared to try to combine them with a family life. Heaven forbid!

Not only is it a shame for the employee who is forced against the wall but it’s a shame for narrow-minded businesses when you consider the potential benefits they could enjoy. Having employee’s who can work from anywhere, at any time and who aren’t tied to their desks has been proven to:

  • Create a more efficient and productive organisation
  • Create a more empowered and motivated workforce
  • Encourage better customer service, especially within the international market
  • Retain and attract key talent
  • Reduce levels of sickness absence
  • There is even the potential to save money in terms of office space and resources.

Some forward thinking, companies are already recognising that modern employers need to remove the old habits ingrained from the industrial era where you went to a single place of work between 9 and 5 every day to perform standardised tasks. The world has moved on, technology has improved and people need to work differently. We need to be allowed to be both employee’s and parent’s. It should be our right, not an nice to have added extra.

It’s about time that all companies followed suit and trusted their employees to take accountability for their own workload, time management and getting things done, whether that’s at 9am in the office or 9pm at home.

For me that is the essence of flexible working and I am very lucky to work for a company that is more forward thinking in this respect. It shouldn’t be pot luck though should it? It should be our right and our choice.

I want to hear from you – do you have a flexible employer? Do you have no flexibility with regards to work? Have you had to give up your career because you just can’t make it work? Would flexible working from home have made a difference?

Let me know in the comments box below and let’s get this subject out there.




  1. February 21, 2017 / 18:26

    I 100% agree with you. Unfortunately, family is rarely prioritised by employers these days. When I was a daycare teacher, I frequently had parents come in very upset to pick up their sick children because their employers threatened to fire them. Over their sick child.

    No parent should have to choose between providing for the child financially and providing for the child physically and emotionally. 🙁

  2. February 21, 2017 / 18:43

    In my day job, my employers (the ministry of justice) state we offer Work Life Balance… ha! In my department, which in fairness is a 24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year kind of job working shifts. A normal shift for me is 7.30-6.30, I get it I have no problem with it. (Although a 7am drop off with the childminder is not great) We couldn’t have someone finishing at 3.00 to do the school run, however what I used to work was fixed rest days. So I worked full time but always had and Monday and Wednesday off work with every other weekend. So it meant to could juggle childcare around this…. nightmare but it worked for us. They took this away from us saying it didn’t meet the ‘business need’ which evidently has caused us many problems, leading me to go part time to at least have some time at home with the children. Employers should offer more to parents, not just the Mummies many Daddies could do with having that bit more flexiablity to enjoy the school pick up or sports day. If you want more details I’m happy to help! Xx
    Sarah recently posted…Valentines date with Just Us BoxMy Profile

  3. Victoria
    February 21, 2017 / 18:46

    Why should parents have more rights than the others? They decided to have a child knowing what are their options regarding work too.
    At the same time, I think everybody should have the possibility to chose flexible working hours as long is feasible.

  4. February 21, 2017 / 20:50

    I work for myself so I’m my own flexible employer lol but great post!

  5. February 21, 2017 / 22:30

    I am absolutely in favour of flexible working in careers that allow for it (which these days is a large proportion of office based jobs). Like Victoria said in the previous comment, it shouldn’t just be for parents though. The law does say we can all request flexible working but employers don’t ways embrace it. They also don’t treat everyone equally so I suspect non parents get a bum deal. This leads to resentment of parents and causes an unnecessary divide. My employer have been great with me going down to 3.5 days over 3, but not many non-parents have contractually changed their hours so I still feel in a mummy minority (with a few dads).
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  6. February 21, 2017 / 22:49

    I have an amazing job, that has seen me travel around the world and enjoy lots of fabulous experiences but trying to juggle working and 2 kids are the hardest thing I have ever had to do. My hubby works away Mon-Fri so it’s just me doing all the parenting. My job has a small amount of flexibility but then like there are days like tomorrow where I have to drop the kids off at my mum’s at 7 am be on the 7.25 train to London and won’t be back till 9 p.m that make life in general so hard.I hope that it all works out but ultimately something has to give 🙁
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  7. February 22, 2017 / 09:43

    Where I used to work they were very big on ‘flexible working’… but when it came down to it, the general attitude towards parents who went home to be with children was pretty negative. I confess i was guilty of it sometimes myself, but then people were towards me because I didn’t start work until 9am and they all started earlier. I think it’s a general attitude that people have where they think others aren’t working as hard as them and, the truth is, employers shouldn’t be making their staff feel they need to work themselves into the ground to do well. Great place to start with that is definitely flexible working, not just for parents though, for everyone.

  8. June 12, 2017 / 08:11

    Flexible working has a different definition depending on who is asking for flexibility. Many employers advertise seeking flexible workers. They mean “flexible” according to the employer’s demands, not the employees. To be frank, this is the more usual definition of flexible working.

  9. September 2, 2017 / 19:56

    I’m completely with you on this. I’m lucky enough that my employer agreed to reduce my working week from 5 to 4 days. What is also great is that if my daughter is sick I call up that morning and say I’m not coming in they’re happy with that.
    From my point of view I could work even more flexibly (company operates flexi-time where we can fulfill our daily hours any time between 7am and 6pm) but childcare doesn’t quite match up. I could leave my daughter an hour earlier in the morning but that adds an extra £10 in fees for the day even though it would mean I would pick her up at least one hour earlier in the evening.

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