How flexible is your business?

Lucy Capaldo, account director at Cartwright Communications, discusses flexible working and how this can benefit everyone, employers and employees alike.

My story and why I am so passionate about flexi-time 

As a working mum to primary school twins, I tend to bang on about work-life balance a lot and I am a huge advocate of flexible working.  

After my maternity leave came to an end in 2016, I found myself at a crossroads. I desperately wanted to spend time with my boys whilst they were little, but I also felt eager to get back to work in some capacity. Trying to find a part-time job that was flexible and didn’t entail stepping down the ladder proved extremely difficult and that is why I started freelancing. 

Following a busy job hunt, I set my sights on joining Cartwright, and after meeting with the senior team, I was invited to join the team in a part-time role.  I haven’t looked back since, again adjusting my hours when my twins started school this September, allowing me to pick them up every day.

A change is coming 

However, it isn’t just me, the zeitgeist is changing as employers and employees shift their mindsets to allow more flexible working in and out of the workplace.

For many working parents, the first year of maternity or paternity leave is probably the biggest life change they will experience, followed by the huge task of returning to work and making family life fit around professional commitments. However, it’s not just working parents that might need to request flexible working arrangements. It could be someone with responsibility as a carer or perhaps someone with a health issue. In fact, UK law has stated since 2014 that every employee in the UK with more than six months service in their job has the right to request flexible working. 

The rise of the flex campaigners 

Awareness of flexible working and its benefits is spreading in the UK with campaigners such as Anna Whitehouse aka ‘Mother Pukka’ regularly grabbing the headlines and rightfully gaining attention via social media. In 2015, Anna launched the Flex Appeal campaign to inspire businesses to view flexible working with a more open mind whilst encouraging employees to open a dialogue with their employers if it would benefit their circumstances. The flex for all campaign has since been launched by Anna alongside fellow campaigners Pregnant then Screwed, The Fawcett Society and The Fatherhood Institute.

With public consciousness stronger than ever, it’s time for both employers and employees to understand what flexible working is and consider how it can benefit both performance and well-being in the workplace.  

Government legislation changes 

The government has also been looking at the issue as part of its Good Work Plan, which has been deemed ‘the largest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation.’ Furthermore, in July 2019 the government announced that pregnant women and new mothers could receive up to two years of legal protection against redundancy, with new protections being extended for an additional six months after their return to work. 

How flexible working can benefit your business 

Flexible working is designed to suit an employee’s needs as well as an employer’s. For example, having flexible start and finish times or allowing employees to work from home. Other examples of flexible working include job sharing, where two people do one job and split the hours, part time working, working compressed hours and working full-time hours but over fewer days. Flexi-time is where the employee chooses when to start and end work (with agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’, for example, 10am – 4pm every day. 

So, although it might seem like a big step, especially for a small business, the results and feedback prove that flexible working can benefit both employees and employers. The results can be better productivity, less employee turnover and a happier and more motivated workforce.

For myself, I have never been happier. It is chaotic at times trying to balance family with work, but I can honestly say it has never been better than it is now. So, it’s time to get flexing! 

By Lucy Capaldo

Lucy is a highly experienced communications professional with over 15 years' in-house and agency experience working with a variety of clients, from blue-chip global brands to SMEs. She provides full service expertise from PR strategy, fully integrated communications plans, digital strategies and activation campaigns, copywriting, media relations, crisis communications, industrial relations and internal communications.