Ep. 226 Flexibility as a non-negotiable

Flexible working

In this week’s episode, Anna looks at flexible working.


Are you tired of the 9-to-5 grind? In this week’s episode, Anna considers flexible working and how to decide what that means for you. Learn about the different options available, the benefits, and the potential challenges.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

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Flexible Working

Hello. And today we are talking about one of my favorite topics, which is flexibility. It’s something I’ve always talked about in terms of leaving the nine-to-five and creating more freedom, flexibility and fulfillment. And I 100% believe that having your own business working for yourself is the best way to achieve this, if that’s something you want to and can do. However, the good news is that in a post pandemic, working landscape, flexibility has actually become a very real possibility, in fact, inevitability within the corporate world as well. Now, of course, there are companies and I see this a lot on LinkedIn, and I see people calling it out who are paying lip service to flexible working. So beware of job descriptions that say, you know, flexible working, but then actually they’re demanding, really specific office days, they don’t let you work from home, they don’t allow you to have the flexibility that works for you. Because of course, flexibility can look different for different people. It’s very personal. And I’ll talk about this in another episode soon. But there are generational differences, actually, in expectations. We’ve got the famous Gen Z generation Zed, I suppose we should say, in the UK, who want something different, actually, in terms of what they’re expecting from their career as a whole.

In fact, we’re seeing the shifts happen in all generations. But certainly, it’s it’s happening most of all, and younger generations who are coming and they don’t want to, you know, stay all night in the office. Fair enough. They don’t want to sacrifice everything else. They want to have balance in their life. And that’s, you know, that’s something that certainly will change the landscape of work in the future. So different generational experts, expectations, also different life stages. I remember now years ago, when I was young, and enthusiastic, I remember a new mom, at the company I was working, who told me, You know what, I’m actually quite happy to leave at 530 because she just wanted to go home and be with her daughter. And I was appalled.

If I remember correctly, by her lack of ambition, I thought, My goodness, what a strange thing. She doesn’t want to be promoted. You know, she’s been here longer than me. And I’m now getting promoted before her. I just found it really odd. Now, I work three day work weeks, I finish at 530 Laters, to pick up the kids from nursery or to prepare dinner. And that’s my reality. It doesn’t mean I’m not ambitious. But it does mean I have other priorities. Flexible Working. When I initially quit my job was to do with being a digital nomad. As it were, I was traveling the world I wanted to be completely location independent, and work fully virtually flexible working was was also fully virtual during the pandemic, right, we couldn’t go into the office for those of us in jobs, flexible working now that I’ve left London, and for many of my parents, friends who are still in jobs means actually being able to work from home and they only commute into London once or twice a week.

Flexible Working as a parent looks very different to flexible working, as you know, a digital nomad, and maybe I’m not going to roll this out because I know they exist tonight, I’m a little bit jealous of them.

I very much admire them. But people who are combining those two things, right, there are parents who are traveling the world with their children. So you know, those are just a couple of very simple examples. But flexible working means very different things. It can mean remote working, working from home working from anywhere, it can be flexible hours, and so on. So the key question for you. And that’s the point here is what does flexibility need to look like for you? What do you want it to look like? So whether you’re an employee, an employer, of yourself or other people, it’s really important to reflect on this because flexibility is a given now, okay, working from home, you know, it’s not reasonable to demand that employees are in the office every day. So if your employer is doing that employee employers is quite tricky episode. If your employer is demanding that then I would rethink maybe where you’re working. Obviously, there are some industries, some functions that are more limiting. Having said that, in my interviews with HR directors in the past few months, I was informed of some really inspiring examples where they were able to bust some myths about you know, people working in the plants, for example, there are still some roles where it is possible to have flexible working. So that’s really exciting. So don’t assume that it’s not possible, you know, oh, my gosh, I’m in a sales role. I’ve got to be there all the time, whatever it is that they can be creative solutions. And again, flexible working can look like something else. I listen to a podcast a while ago, that was talking about different ways of doing the four day workweek and even that seems like of course, it’s the same but it’s not it could be different for days for everybody, right? There could be, you know, certain days you have to come in for meetings. It could be some of the companies were making it a reward actually AC only got the fifth day off, as it were, if, if you hit your results, and so on. So flexible working can mean lots of different things. Key question for you? What does flexibility look like for you? What do you want to look like? So what are your working days and hours? Right? If you look at the year, in fact, what are the days, weeks, months that you want to work and not? I also interviewed someone hopefully that’s coming up, if not already on the podcast, but soon, who was working term time, she wants her business term time, which I find very appealing. Now, as my daughter is going to start school in September. I certainly look forward to him half term, and long summer holidays. So can I design my business and my program so that my clients are aware that, you know, the the calls and tie intensity at least is happening during term time? That’s a really interesting question that I’m thinking about.

So working days, working hours, term time, holidays, working from home, working anywhere, working in the office, again, coming back to the generational differences, very simplistically drawing people with a broad brush here.

But actually, I would imagine, I would assume, and also I’ve heard this from actual studies, that youngsters want to be in the office and have that social connection. They want mentoring and coaching, they need that support. They need to build their career capital and be seen. Whereas those of us who have built that career capital, who are known in the company respected for expertise, everyone knows that I’m a hard worker, and I do my job and so on. It’s easier for me to be home. Plus, I already have friends and family and I’m busy and I don’t need to necessarily be in the office to have that office banter. I’ve got other things to do. Now, boo hoo, that sounds very sad. But you know what I mean, that those generational differences can really play into that as well. People without families, people who really prioritize that connectedness, and, and sense of belonging actually do want to be in the office certain days. So that’s, that’s really important to identify as well. So as an individual, what does that flexibility look like for you? Obviously, there are then sort of one off periods as well, it could be sabbaticals or parental leave. The so many topics now isn’t there in terms of menopause periods, tragic things as well, of course, illnesses and so on. But But miscarriages and mental health days, and so on, those are all such important topics to consider. And they may be relevant to you, they may not yet fingers crossed, God forbid that they they will be in the future, unfortunately, menopause, I think is inevitable for us as women. But just because it’s not affecting us right now, doesn’t mean it isn’t a consideration, right. So if it’s an employer who is very open and amenable to these things, then I think that’s really valuable.

Even if right now we might think I don’t need any of those things. So as an individual, what does flexibility need to look like for you, as a company as an employer?

How do you I know this is the critical question, how do you balance that all important sense of belonging, connectedness, culture, not to mention productivity, team effectiveness, and so on, with the flexibility that everybody is now demanding, right? So that’s a really key question for your employer. And they need to be really intense about when and why they’re asking people to be in the office. Because I heard of a case of a mum who traveled in, I think, a two hour commute to the office, just to be told that the meeting she was there for was cancelled. That’s not the experience we want our employees to have. It’s certainly not something I’d want to do. You know, so we need to be making sure that of course, we value those moments when the team comes together. We need creative brainstorming. We need team updates, connection, team building, even Christmas parties and so on. But really understand why we’re asking that making sure it’s working, and then allowing for the different types of flexibility that people are wanting and needing for their own particular personal situation. In fact, just popping on here to the UK government sites, obviously, I know you’re international. But UK government says the following flexible working is a way of working that suits and employees need for example, having flexible start and finish times or working from home. All employees have the legal right to request flexible working not just parents and carers. It’s making a statute application. Employees must have worked with the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible.

Employers must deal with requests in a reasonable manner. They have to assess the advantages or disadvantages hold a meeting offer an appeal process now in terms of flexible working types.

There are different ways of working flexibly and I haven’t mentioned all of these. So this is great job sharing. That’s a really creative thing, right? So two people can do one job and split the hours. I have a friend who did that for a while. So that’s something to consider working from home obviously some all over work can be done elsewhere. Part time is important to working less than full time hours. Unfortunately in the past, we’ve tended to see people again, unfortunately, especially mothers, who work four days a week and are paid four days a week, officially, but they ended up of course, still doing five days a week, because that’s just as the same work being compressed. And that’s not okay. Compressed hours speaking of compressed working full time hours, but over fewer days, that’s basically the four day workweek, right? It means being more productive, stripping away that waste, not having all these unnecessary meetings, etc, etc, and getting a job done and fewer days without lots of stress. And so on. Flexi time the employee chooses when to start and and work within agreed limits, but work certain core hours. So for example, 10 to four every day, annualized hours, the employee has to work a certain number of hours over the year, but they have some flexibility.

But when they work, these are sometimes Oh, there are sometimes called hours which the employee regularly works each week, and they work the rest of theirs their hours, flexibly sorry, I can’t read today, when there’s extra demand at work, staggered hours, the employee has different start finish and break times from other workers. And phased retirement. Default retirement age has been phased out in older workers can choose when they want to retire. This means they can reduce their hours and work part time.

So you can see how this can be relevant not just and obviously I’m in the thick of having young kids.

So that’s what I’m always talking about. So apologies for that. People nearing retirement age as well, individuals right or any other reason why you’d want to have staggered Flexi compressed part time, whatever it is, right. So, you know, there’s a very simple website, that government makes sure that you know, your rights, of course, when you’re working with an employer. But regardless, again, of whether you’re still in your job, or your manager in business, the key question I want you to think about is what does flexibility look like for you? Because we might all say, Yeah, we want flexibility. But certainly, again, my vision has evolved since initially quitting and being carefree and single and wanting to travel the world versus what it is now. So you know, it’s okay that it will evolve, you might want to check in and then to make sure it’s still what you want.

And of course, if you’ve started a new job that’s ostensibly offered certain thing promised certain things and make sure that they’re, they’re actually delivering on that. And if not, then that’s something to follow up on. And yeah, make sure that you’re super clear on what it means because that’s where things can go wrong. Whereas if we’re not sure what we want, then of course, we can’t ask for it. And we won’t notice when we’re not getting it. I think it’s an important topic. I think it’s exciting, that it is becoming more possible. And even as I said, inevitable within companies to I’m not beholden to. And I know, most people, many people won’t quit their jobs, although I imagine that many of you on this podcast will or have quit their job. But certainly it’s amazing that this is becoming possible for people who still want to be in that corporate environment, but to have that flexibility being possible within Yeah, within the benefits of also having the stable salary and so on. Now, we did talk about career cushioning last week, so don’t forget that as well. Your the stable salary and secure job is not always what it seems. And but certainly I think this is a really exciting developments. So that’s the question we’re asking this week. What does flexibility flexible working look like for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can email me at podcast at one stuff i.com. Or please share on social media and I’d love to hear what you think flexibility could or should look like for you and for other people. Thanks so much, and I’ll see you next week. Bye for now

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