There are a number of things that I am passionate about and flexible working is one of them. You may recall from my my blog Flexible Dad that I recently had a flexible working application agreed. I finish work at 12:30 on Wednesdays to allow me to pick Gracie up from nursery. I have been working my flexible hours since the beginning of April and I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you what we have been up to, some of my views on flexible working and why I am a huge advocate for it.
I have been following Mother and Papa Pukka on instagram for sometime now and more recently have been following their #flexappeal campaign. Today, they visited 10 downing street to talk about #flexappleal with the communications department. I am in awe of the work they have been doing and admire their passion for a subject that is so important, not only to me, but to millions of other parents out there. This is something that should be second nature, just like the right to take annual leave is. I’m looking forward to seeing what will come of their campaign!
How we have been getting on
Great….we have been getting on just great! We have spend some really valuable time together. Gracie’s favourite thing to do is Play-doh….I’ve managed to avoid this so far because, quite frankly, I fucking hate the stuff. She always mixes the colours and I can’t quite cope with it getting everywhere.
We have been to soft play. We have re-enacted Goldilocks and the three bears. We have baked. We have made dinner. We have had laughs, tantrums, I’ve shouted, Gracie’s gotten upset, we have been silly, we have been serious. We have had the most perfect Daddy Daughter time that I could ask for.
Today, we went for a walk, we stopped at the park, played on the swings and ran through the fields. We stopped at out local pond and looked for frogs. Gracie wanted to build a birds nest out of the freshly cut grass and sat waiting for her eggs to hatch. I cannot tell you how valuable I find this time. We don’t have to be doing anything particular, but watching Gracie’s reactions every Tuesday night, knowing I will be picking her up at lunch time the next day is priceless.
So, on the flip side how has work been? Firstly, my employer was very understanding from the outset, so I didn’t have an issue when I requested to work flexibly. I have had to adapt my diary slightly, I have had to coach people to remember that I do not work Wednesday afternoons, but after the first few weeks it has become second nature. I manage my own diary, which probably helps but I have not let anyone down. As far as I am aware my stakeholders have not seen any negative impact of me not being in the office on Wednesday afternoons and we schedule meetings around my working hours. I can honestly say, it has worked really well for me and I plan to continue working this way for the foreseeable future…..who knows, I might adapt my hours even more when Baby Hew No2 arrives.
My view on flexible working.
Flexible working is so important to me, to our family. We made the decision to both remain in full time work and enrolled Gracie at a local nursery from the age of 13 months. It is not a decision we made lightly but it was, and remains, the right decision for our family. We are both very motivated at work and have aspirations and goals that we will achieve, one day! We also want to be good role models for Gracie. I am not at all saying that people who do not work cannot be great role models for their kids, for us, we want Gracie to see that we work hard and have the ability to play hard too. We teach her about the value of money and to respect things. She knows the reason we go on holiday and have nice things is because Mummy and Daddy work hard for them. I want her to be happy in life, I don’t want work to be a burden and hopefully she can see that Mummy Hew and I, not only work very hard, but enjoy the work we do….as well as the reward at the end of each month!
We spend the evenings and weekends with Gracie and do as much as we can as a family, but there are times that I feel we are missing out. Having quality one to one time with Gracie is so important and I lacked that. Our friend used to look after Gracie on a Wednesday afternoon but due to a change in her circumstances she was unable to continue to have Gracie. I made the decision to apply for flexible working and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
To me, having the option to work flexibly is a no brainer, I have compressed my hours to allow me to leave at lunch time one day a week. I work a slightly longer day four days a week…which to be fair isn’t unusual anyway. I have the peace of mind that, come Wednesday, Gracie and I will be off spending some quality time together.
In my view, and I am sure there are statistics to support this, working flexibly has a huge impact on an employees wellbeing. Employees with a better work life balance are likely to be happier. An employee who is happier is more likely to be more engaged. An employee who is more engaged is likely to work harder and their output is likely to be greater. An employee who is happy in the work place is more likely to be happier at home. Its a win win situation.
For me, having the ability to work flexibly gives me the opportunity to progress a career, which I enjoy, whilst being able to spend quality time with my Daughter. I am quite fortunate that my employer is understanding of individuals circumstances and allows them to work flexibly. I find it incredibly frustrating that this view isn’t taken by all employers.
It’s 2018 for fuck sake – everyone has a view on everything yet it is still deemed to be odd for a Dad to work flexibly. This view is so archaic and the more Dads who work flexibly, the more normal it will be. I won’t go on about the Gender Pay Gap, but to truly bring equality in the workplace, Dads need to do their bit. Take Shared Parental Leave, Work flexibly, support your families. Only when it is deemed to be normal for a Dad to work flexibly and jointly have the responsibly for their kids childcare will we truly have equality.
Come on Dads….we need to up our game.