Following a conversation with a friend, I wrote a short LinkedIn status update this week. It was an update that has staggered me, both with the traction it has gained and – very unusually on LinkedIn! – the almost universal consensus from commenters.
Tag: flexible working
One of the questions I’m most asked is how I manage to balance a full-time job with taking care of my young family. The irony of the word ‘balance’ is not lost on me, as for me it’s never been about balance. My work responsibilities don’t stop the moment I leave the office, and similarly my home life doesn’t switch off between the hours of nine and five. If you look at those individuals who are successfully combining a demanding role in the office with a demanding role at home, it’s unlikely that they’re seeking to ‘balance’ their home life against work. Success comes when we stop thinking about ‘balance’, and start thinking about ‘integration’.
When you think of flexible working, what kind of employee demographic comes to mind? Working parents? Likely primarily mothers? If so, you wouldn’t be alone. Historically, flexible working has very much been seen as the domain of those employees with childcare responsibilities to work around. With the majority of primary carers still being mums rather than dads, it is easy to see how flexible working can have been dismissed by organisations as something which is required by the few, not the many.
It can’t just be me who seems to have a spate of friends suddenly deciding to leave their nice, safe, stable jobs and branch out on their own. Self-employment is becoming more and more popular, and this is borne out by the statistics we see. In 2008, there were 3.8 million self employed people, according to the Office for National Statistics. By 2015 there were 4.6 million, an increase of more than 20% over just 7 years. With the rise of the gig economy, it seems the trend of “going it alone” is one that is here to stay.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is how I make things work as a working parent. More specifically, a working mother. This is partly because I am still a significant minority. Despite the many advances we have made in our approaches to work, we are all familiar with the statistics showing just how few women – and especially those women with young children – progress to Board level. The New York Times published a report sharing studies which show that, while having children penalises women, it actually benefits men. We still have a very long way to go to find true gender equality at work.