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Making flexible working ‘work’

by jcp

Alice Gilbert is Head of Client Services at B2B tech marketing specialist Fox Agency. As a working mother in a senior leadership position, Alice discusses the benefits of flexible working and provides some tips on how to make flexible working ‘work’.

The pandemic has prompted many organisations to look at flexible working. After all, it created a fundamental shift in working patterns, forcing millions of employees to work from home, practically overnight.

However, as we slowly start to emerge from lockdown restrictions, not everybody wants to return to the office full time. Numerous studies show that most workers are in favour of a hybrid working model, where they can split their time between the office and home to suit their life and schedules.

From my own experience, upon my return to the workplace following maternity leave over two years ago, it was important to me to find an employer who was supportive of a more flexible working model.

For me, this consisted of a four-day working week so I could still be successful and “give my all” to work in order to achieve my career goals, whilst also not missing out on precious moments with my daughter (like going strawberry picking in the sunshine together a couple of weeks ago!)

Fox Agency offered me this flexibility and it’s proved a hugely beneficial working model for both parties. I’ve subsequently been promoted twice and I’m now part of the Executive team, responsible for leading the Client Services team and driving the agency’s ambitious growth plans.

Hybrid working

Since we’ve moved to a hybrid working model, we now have the best of both worlds – the ability to work in the office and socialise with colleagues (restrictions allowing), coupled with the opportunity to work from home for concentrated thinking time and accommodation of individual drop off/pick up routines.

Fox Agency has been very progressive in terms of embracing flexible working models – both pre and post pandemic. We now have a number of very talented team members who work fully remotely that simply wouldn’t have been able to join the team if it weren’t for a more flexible approach to how, where and when we work.

We also have a number of working mothers – and fathers – on the Client Services team. It’s a really supportive environment which allows them to benefit from flexibility too.

It’s important for employers to acknowledge that many talented people value flexibility and it is a top priority for them when applying for jobs. Furthermore, offering flexible working arrangements enables businesses to attract a wider pool of talent which can boost creativity and bring fresh thinking and ideas to the table. Offering flexibility is also great for staff retention.

Prioritising and multi-tasking

I believe the key to successful flexible working is the ability to clearly prioritise your time. Reviewing your diary and To Do list daily to ensure all deadlines can be met and ensuring that some time is protected each day for key focus projects (in and amongst the back-to-back calls of course!)

Multi-tasking is a must in all aspects of my life. But it’s important to set boundaries to focus separately on work and family, like purposefully disconnecting when I’m looking after my daughter. This was particularly challenging during the first lockdown when nurseries were closed but I drew up a comprehensive childcare plan with my husband (who’s also in a senior leadership role). Between us, we were able to juggle both the demands of busy workloads and those of a toddler in the house full time. Although it can be difficult to separate work life from home life when working at home, it’s really important to do so.

Communication

Building strong relationships, developing a high level of trust and communicating constantly with your team is also critical – ensuring everyone is aware of the key deadlines we’re working towards and what their individual responsibilities are in terms of delivery for all our clients.

At the end of the day, it’s about finding the right balance that works for everyone – your employer, yourself and your family.

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