Re-defining flexible work in our new way of working

As Vanessa Vanderhoek, founder of National Flexible Working Day recently explained on the Working Mumma podcast, she classifies flexible work into four categories:⠀

  • Location of work⠀

  • Hours of work⠀

  • Patterns of work ⠀

  • Leave ⠀

During the podcast Vanessa shared the number one reason people want flexible work is for their personal health and wellbeing, followed by productivity and number three was caring for children. ⠀

The conversation around flexible work is often focused on women with young children, but as COVID-19 has shown, many more people want to be able to work flexibly for a variety of reasons.⠀

For flexible work to be normalised, it needs to be available to all employees and not just focused on people with children or older workers. This creates inequity in the workplace for organisations that don't have a company wide policy.

As we have seen over the last few months, the positive outcome of health and wellbeing is a huge benefit to working flexibly. I was on the phone to a colleague yesterday who said he used to get up at 5am to go to the gym then travel to into the city for work. Now, he is still able to go to the gym but at 7am and start work before he previously got to work. Extra sleep and less commute - winning all round. ⠀

I also know the example of Blake Woodward @suittiestroller that works four days a week and has taken extended parental leave for both of his children. ⠀

Sharing stories of how people work flexibily is important. This allows people the opportunity to see what is possible and normalise flexible work. ⠀

The flexible work arrangements will be different for everyone, but it is important that you and your partner decide what is best for your family. Importantly during the planning, consider your organisational needs (i.e. do you need to be at the weekly team meeting at 9am Monday) so it is a win/win and team based outcome. ⠀

“Let’s not forget this is about modernizing our approach to work, yes remote work is a key part of it, but we need to look more holistically to say ok flexible work is the new way of working.”

Let's hope that Flexible Work is the winner out of the crisis we have lived through to change our mindset and approach to work and bring forward changes that would otherwise take 10+ years to come about.