Jayne Carverhill, Digital Marketing Consultant at We Are All Connected (WAAC) shares her experiences of flexible working benefits and hiring flexible workers through Ten2Two Sussex.

“Do you ever daydream about the benefits of flexible working? I certainly did and often. With previous employers, I was too scared to formally apply for a flexible hours contract, as it was not the done thing in the corporate culture I found myself in.

I learnt from former colleagues that the only way to achieve flexible work hours was to go it alone and become self-employed. I wanted to pursue postgraduate study and volunteering to nourish my soon-to-be burnt out spirit. Going freelance seemed like my only option.

Before taking my role at We Are All Connected, I had been actively looking for professional part-time roles for some time and often faced a “computer says no” response from recruiters and hiring managers alike, learning that flexible contracts were like trying to find hen’s teeth. 

What is flexible working?

Flexible work policies vary across organisations from full-time, part-time and career flexibility arrangements with a whole range of options. We adopt a flexitime approach which works for us all but may not work for every employee’s needs.

Yet if professional part-time contracts were more popular, workers would discover a value in freeing up more time to focus on personal pursuits like volunteering or starting their own business. Businesses could benefit from a more cost-efficient resourcing model by hiring good people, highly qualified and motivated professionals, who desire flexible work.

Who are the professional part-timers?

I’m part of a new generation of professionals seeking part-time work and speaking with Emma Cleary, Director of Ten2Two Sussex, most employees looking for part-time hours or work from home jobs are still mostly parents or primary caregivers.

The Ten2Two team has helped to fill three out of seven roles at We Are All Connected and Emma shared her own experience of not being able to find suitable professional part-time roles locally, which led her to eventually open up the Sussex office; “I think the most frustrating aspect about the lack of flexible roles is that employers are really missing out on the wealth of talent that they could harness to grow their businesses.”

“At Ten2Two we hear so often about the brain drain and the talent gap – to the tune of over £170 billion lost to the economy, and all it takes is for employers to look at working hours in a less traditional fashion, short days, working from home and holiday flexi-time – just as WAAC has! The payback is huge – loyal, happy staff dedicated to their work with a better work/life balance.” Learn more about flexible working benefits here. 

Before the government changed legislation in 2014, only carers or people looking after children were eligible to apply for flexible work contracts. Now all employees in the UK have the right to apply after twenty-six weeks of employment. But how well is this known? I asked friends in full-time employment if they knew they were eligible to apply for a flexible working request and many were unaware, with a few male friends assuming only women are allowed to if they have children.

Obviously, my ‘pub study’ does not account for the views of many but it did help to reinforce my experience that employers do not necessarily shout from the rooftops about flexible work options and the BBC reports that fathers are afraid to ask for flexible working based on a fear of damaging their career.  Employers must deal with requests ‘in a reasonable manner’ and can only turn down applications if there is a good business reason for doing so. Learn how to apply for flexible working.

Flexible working benefits

Working from home or flexibly in the office, is doable in our modern world with technology making it easier to stay connected. Research shows that organisations that adopt flexible employment policies increased productivity, improved employee well-being, talent attraction and retention, and reduction in accommodation costs (People Management, 2016) and flexible working case studies from Ten2Two clients back up this sentiment.

Tips for working from home

Of course, there are ground rules to put in place when working flexible hours or from home. It’s vital that employers and employees are clear on the expectations set around the contracted working hours – be clear on what hours and days you are in the office and give enough notice if you need to swap things around a bit (but don’t take the Mickey).

We use a uniformed approach to managing our Google calendars, so it is clear when we are in or out of the office or working from home. If you’re client facing, ensure clients are fully aware of your working pattern so they know when you are available – not doing so can make you look elusive and unprofessional. Slack is a favourite tool of ours too, used daily by all to stay in touch and helps us stay connected when working remotely.

Planning and scheduling workload

Good diary management and planning my week and daily tasks help efficiency. As a team, we manage resource using Teamwork to track productivity and organise ourselves by project and task list to promote efficiency. It’s also important to find a suitable space to work at home without too many nearby distractions such as a fridge full of food! Read more tips from the Ten2Two team here.

What are your tips for working flexible hours or from home? Do you think attitudes are changing towards flexible employment? We’d love to hear from you.

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