Flexible Working

Why flexible working works for me

Ah, the joy of my alarm going off at 540 am – I love it! I’m such an early bird riser.

Ok, I have to be honest, that is a total lie.

I’d much rather hit zzz on my alarm (possibly my favourite function on my phone) but I know starting work at 6 o’clock is working for me, so I need to drag myself out of bed.

But why do I start at 6?

It’s because I’m lucky.

I’m lucky to work for an organisation that puts people at the heart of everything it does. Whether that’s learners, clients or employees. I’m lucky to be one of the 9% of employed women in the UK who can choose their own work pattern.

Since the pandemic hit in 2020 we’ve all had to shift our work lives in some way. Whether that’s moving to working from home, wearing more PPE at work, or changing our working pattern. I have two primary school aged children and for me the pandemic has meant changing my working hours so that I learn to (or try to) love that 5 40 am alarm call.

Back in Spring 2020 I was told my youngest was Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and we had to shield. Happily, since last summer we no longer need to, but we have still taken the approach to be cautious. When the children went back to school in September wrap around childcare wasn’t available and later when it was, we chose not to use it to limit their exposure to other class bubbles.

To have someone able to do school drop off and pick up, I collect at the end of the school day and my husband drops them off in the morning, he starts work just gone 9. My working day is 6 am to 3 pm. I let my colleagues, and clients, know my working pattern. I can be flexible and have the odd meeting later in the day (thank goodness for Netflix childcare). But, since having children at home for months and months (or was it years and years?) home-schooling, there’s been a cultural shift in work where it’s normalised to see children, family and pets sneak into the back of those Zoom calls.

I never imagined I’d be an early bird who would relish those early starts. But I am very grateful as I have gained extra time with my young children, when they’re at an age they still want to hang out with the parents!

I can be there at the school gates at chuck out time – when before they always did after school club, I’m getting to know other parents (at a distance) and enjoy the chit chat with my children on the way home.

I never imagined I’d be an early bird who would relish those early starts.

Michelle Boardman Head of Online Learning

>With work, I also have heads down time first thing in the morning, before emails / instant chat messages start coming through to crack on with projects and get my to-do list frogs out the way.

I’ve found that work culture is more parent-friendly since the start of the pandemic. The positives have definitely helped my mental health during a really hard time – I feel more connected with my children from spending time with them and with my colleagues as they know more about my home life, they’ve all said hello to my children! And that makes me feel secure and happier with work.

But when the pandemic comes to an end, will I go back to 9 – 5? I don’t think I ever will and I believe that the working landscape will have permanently changed enough that working patterns don’t have to be 9 – 5 too.

Right, off to make that coffee… it’s been an early start!