Flexappeal - why flexible working should be the obvious answer
#Flexappeal. A campaign for flexible working set up by a fabulous blogger and mum. I've not said anything about this campaign as I thought Mother Pukka et al were doing a fabulous job. And hell, I couldn't get time off to go to the flash mob in Trafalgar Square, because I was working (yes. I know. Ironic right?!). But now, one day into my husband's 2-week trip to visit his sick mother in Sydney, I'm standing up and shouting. Because the current business model DOES NOT WORK.
I dropped my boys off at nursery this morning. I didn't shower because I was up at 3.40 with the youngest and never got to go back to bed, let alone to the bathroom. I dealt with that. I dealt with the almost-3 year old having a tantrum because he didn't want to take his gloves off (that's fine buddy! I don't care!! Keep 'em on all day if you want, just please, come up off the floor and give me a snotty, soggy kiss goodbye cos I'm in a hurry. How awful is that - in too much of a rush to comfort your desperately sobbing toddler who just needs talking down from his hysteria and a couple of moments of being held.) And last week, I dealt with my (male… ha) boss saying I couldn't work from home a day a week in my partner's absence, because there was no "business reason" for it. Looking back, I also remember dealing with being told that I couldn't do my job in 4 days a week and then, when HR approved it, spending my "day off" (because wrestling kids into clothes, going to playgroup, wiping bums, faces, hands and bums again is soooo relaxing) juggling a kid, a pregnancy and work emails just so nobody had to cover for me DESPITE taking a 20% pay-cut for the privilege of working a 4-day week. I worked every "day off" for a year. And of course got no recognition for his. But hey. I dealt with it.
But I couldn't deal with getting to the central line platform, with hundreds of equally squashed commuters, watching each train come and go, getting jostled, trodden on, elbowed and bumped (and hey, no blame here, too many people in a small space is never fun. 80s dance nights not included). I felt claustrophobic and actually at risk of a crush. Or an accident. Accidents on a tube platform don't end well. Sod this. I went to Starbucks, had a coffee and a cry, and sent some work emails. I used the time. And do you know what? If I'd been allowed to work from home, I wouldn't have had to put my make up on in the oven's reflection today. I could have had a shower. I could have held my sobbing toddler until his tears dried and I could have left nursery without his cries following me out. And I'd still have been ready to work at 8.30am, over an hour earlier than I started work today. And I wouldn't hate my employer. Or resent my job, which I once adored.
But, y'know. Presenteeism. Which Bupa, the health experts, think can can decrease your effectiveness by one third. That's what counts to them. And it's bullshit. So please, if you have a parent on your team, try and empathise. The workday doesn't stop at 6.30 for post-work drinks and a chilled night of Netflix. Hell, it doesn't stop at kid's bedtime because there is washing to do, and a book bag to pack, and shoes to find. And we get that as parents we are privileged to have such a life, from chaos to cuddles. But we also read the Ernst & Young research highlighting that women in flexi-time roles are more productive than their counterparts. And we think, "Bugger this" when we feel our company can't have any flexibility towards us. (An aside - this isn't just relevant for parents. It would work for my friend with a sick mother-in-law, or my colleague whose train gets cancelled on a weekly basis. That's the point, right? It's FLEXIBLE!) So if you are a parent, fight the good fight. If you are a boss, don’t be difficult about it. #Flexappeal. Ask for it. Give it. Make it happen. Tweet or comment how it works for you. It's common sense really.