Research shows that most of the working population in the UK would like to work more flexibly. On the topic of issues facing global economies Barak Obama in his 2015 State of the Union Address to Congress commented: “It’s time we stopped treating childcare as a side issue or as a women’s issue”. In the UK there are now approximately 14 million children dependent on working adults. Many of us are also providing support and care to elderly parents and relatives during the working day.
Yet, employers have been slow to grant more flexible working arrangements to their staff. You may be concerned that asking to work more flexibly could affect your career progression in your current organisation, or it could limit your chances of securing a new job.
In May 2015 I attended a conference on Flexible Working organised by the organisation Working Families. I heard presentations from a series leading employers like PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the CBI and from organisations promoting flexible working, like Bright Horizons.
A number of CareerBalance’s clients have found ways to work part-time, including job shares and split weeks. Here are some of our suggestions if you want to work more flexibly:
- Know your rights and the current legislation. Since June 2014 every worker in the UK has had the right to request flexible working arrangements once they have been with their current employer for 26 weeks. If you need help with child care the current Childcare Voucher Scheme will be replaced by a new Tax Free Childcare Scheme in October 2015.
- Work out just how many hours you can work a week, and map out the times you need to be at home or elsewhere to look after children or relatives. It can help to look at a two-week period (some employers allow you to work part weeks) and to explore with your partner how they may be able to adjust their work to meet important commitments at home. If you are looking for a new job be clear in your mind what working hours would work best for you, including working at home.
- Don’t be afraid to tell recruitment consultants and headhunters that you want to work part-time or flexibly. Many employers have created job shares and may look favourably on an applicant who does not want to be based in the office all the time. Office space in London has become so expensive that many businesses can no longer afford desk space for everyone.
- Develop your own proposition to take to your existing employer or to a potentially new employer. Explain clearly how you will be able to get the job done and just how many hours you need to spend ‘on site’ and at home. Technology has reached a point where many of us can work virtually.
- Search for jobs that offer flexible working. You will find these on most job sites, and you can contact recruiters like timewise that specialise in these kinds of roles. Many employers have signed up to the ‘Happy to Talk Flexible Working’ initiative promoted by Working Families, and include their logo on their web site, job advertising and career literature.