Flexible working – not just for the “with kid”

Don’t have a kid but want to know if you can work flexibly? Read on…

kid on a swing

“Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, eg having flexible start and finish times, or working from home.” Gov.uk/flexible-working

This used to be only for those who are parents but this all changed in 2014. Legally anyone with more than 26 weeks’ continuous service can now apply for flexible working. It isn’t just for mothers, parents or carers of little ones, in today’s society its now something most people would like to benefit from it.

Millennials – those who want a better work life balance, those who recognise the importance of social media/ technology in today’s world, go for it. Online presence is so big at the moment, blogging, vlogging, being a foodie, and crafting are just a few hobbies that people want to be able to have time to dedicate to. 24/7 availability of products and services means people don’t simply want to work a 9-5. A bit like the Beyoncé song Haunted “There’s people on this planet just working 9-5 to stay alive – how come?” – How come indeed! You have the right to apply for flexible working, get out of the 9-5.

Most good companies will have a flexible working policy, but most of them I have seen (and being a HR consultant, with over 10 years’ experience – I’ve seen a lot) are nothing more than a “best practice” document. Yes, we have one, yes we will consider applications for flexible working but no we won’t promote this. Do you know you can actually ask for an informal flexible working agreement? You don’t always have to put in a full application.

Our working week as most of us know it runs from Monday through to Friday but this wasn’t always the case – back in the early 1900’s at the turn of the century the workers were fighting against factory owners to be allowed to have off Saturday afternoons and Sundays, even back then time away from the day job was under an agreement from the employer. Isn’t it madness that we still have to agree it when flexible working could easily be incorporated from the recruitment stage?

Opening such flexible roles not only promote being a good employer who is willing to go that extra mile but also opens up the opportunity to find some of that talent that is currently unused, create a competitive edge (internally and externally), increases diversity, but also adds to the general economy.

Asking to work flexibly isn’t just for those who would like to work part time either. It can be as little a change as asking to come in at 9.30am once a week. Or perhaps asking to come in early other days in order to leave at 2pm on a Friday afternoon. Did you know even asking to work from home one day a week can be classed as wanting flexible working.

We have so much flexibility on how we choose to spend our spare time, now is the time to have a go at getting employers to realise flexible working is for everyone and anyone. The more people who request this, the more it should be driven into a company’s culture and ultimately a societal norm – one day it should be a given that one’s work life balance is in your own hands and not a case of applying for flexible working.

Feel free to check out my website www.hr-puzzle.com and I’m on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram if you want to get in touch.


Are mums being a denied a right to flexible working?

woman looking upset


Did you know more than 2/3rd’s of mothers would go back to work if flexible working was an option to them? A recent article in the CIPD People Management Magazine, from October 2016 states “2.6 million mothers are not currently working, which is currently compromising a whole host of skills/ experience.”

I personally wasn’t left with any other option but to set up my own business after struggling to find a flexible role. I didn’t want to return to work full time while my little girl was so small, and I was even rejected for a lower level role for being over qualified. See I was made redundant when I was pregnant and couldn’t find a suitable role to return to at the end of maternity leave. I was lucky enough to be in a position to set up my own business, but this isn’t an option for everyone.

Flexible roles are like gold dust. When they do come up there is a lot of competition for them. Why do businesses not open such sought after roles, roles that highly skilled mothers are just waiting to go into?

Why not allow those with some brilliant skills, many of which have great careers before taking time out to raise a family, to be part of your businesses? Not only that but there are a lot of mothers who are able to gain flexible working when returning from maternity leave, who would like to take other positions, some even promotions. However, this group feel held within their existing role because the flexibility they’ve secured won’t move with them, it won’t be an option in another role.

The issue starts really with the recruitment of these roles, how often do you see one of the big recruiters actually advertising a role as “flexible”? These roles don’t necessarily have to be part time. For example, just opening up a degree of flexibility such as offering to work from home one day a week or the option to come in at 9.30am instead of 8am two days a week, so a mother might drop her child at school those days is enough to open up interest from this huge talent pool.

Opening such roles does not only promote being a good employer who is willing to go that extra mile but also enables a way to find some of that talent that is currently unused. It can help your organisation to create a competitive edge (internally and externally), increase diversity, but also adds to the general economy.

To help support this I am offering a service as a flexible working consultant. We aim to help businesses through training, advice and support to take on more flexible roles and how to make full use of their existing family policies for all and especially for mothers, because being a parent is hard enough as it is!

HR Puzzle, the missing piece in your business. www.HR-Puzzle.com

Author Anna Ives MCIPD – Director HR Puzzle


How flexible working can work in reality- an interview with “This Is Mothership”

This is flexible working

*Photo taken from ThisisMothership

We are lucky enough to have a quick email with Gemma Rose Breger from the super mama glam-  This is Mothership website, she also got Samantha Silver involved to. Take a look at their Instagram if you haven’t already and you will be in with a treat. Not only are these two mothers but they also have fabulous jobs and somehow manage to fit in This is Mothership. We got to ask them how to they work flexibility around work and children.

“Gemma is one of the most in-demand fashion and celebrity stylists in London. Sam is an award-winning beauty journalist and the beauty director at Stylist magazine while with nearly two decades of experience between them working on national newspapers, magazines and on television, for brands including Net a Porter, Marks & Spencer, The X Factor and Revlon.” This is Mothership

Please tell us a little bit about yourselves, how old your children are and what you do for work/ with your spare time (if any!).

I’m Gemma. I’m a freelance fashion & celebrity stylist and I have a daughter called Belle who is almost 2. I run This Is Mothership with Sam who is the beauty director at Stylist magazine. She has an almost 2 year old son called Leo.

How did you make the decision to return to work?

It wasn’t really ever an option for either of us to not return. We are both passionate about our jobs, and needed an escape from being mums so that we felt more sane (and could have time to eat lunch and pee alone once in a while!)

Any tips for mums on maternity leave wanting to return to work?

Go for it, at the beginning it is SO hard but we promise you it gets easier and easier as the days and weeks go on. Once you are into your new routine you will love it. We believe that it’s really healthy to have a balance of mum and work.

How long did you have off for maternity leave and what made you choose that amount of time?

I went back to work when Belle was 6 weeks old. I ended up pumping my almost exploding boobs on a photo shoot and almost had a breakdown (hormones eh!) and realised that I needed more time off. Sam went back when Leo was 11  months old.

How does your childcare care work?

We both have the kids in nursery, Belle is there 2 days a week, Leo is there 3 days and then we have family help out with the rest.

How do you make flexible working work for yourselves?  (ie mix of childcare, partners, work place was supportive)

We’re not going to lie, it’s a struggle. But once we found the balance and got used to the new routine it became much easier.

What does your working week look like? (How do you work it around the kids)

Sam works at the magazine Tuesday to Friday, and Gemma does styling Monday to Wednesday. We do Mothership in the evenings and at weekends.

How do you fit it all in, work, kids, husbands and This is Mothership!?

 We must say ‘we need more hours in the day’ about 400 times a week!! At the beginning, it was really hard but as the time has gone on we’ve worked out a better balance. Sometimes we have weeks when we are really organised and everything is scheduled, other times we have weeks when we are Whats Apping from 6.30am until 11pm trying to work out what we are doing and how we are going to have time to fit it in!!