Flexible Friends

My youngest son started school a few weeks back which will leave me with a childless house between 9 and 3pm. I currently work 3 days a week but have now asked my work place if I can work school hours instead. I have also recently been appointed as an Institutional Support Officer for the Digital Curation Centre. Although this will be a new role (I will be raising awareness and building capacity for institutional research data by liaising with libraries, IT services, research support staff and others) I will continue to work for UKOLN. The role is likely to throw up some interesting topics for this blog as I will be working in a distributed team (it looks like Sharepoint and Basecamp are their tools of choice). It will also require a fair amount of on-site visits and facilitation of roadshows and workshops. Although I’ve asked to work school hours I have said that I myself will be flexible and am happy to work full days when necessary (providing I get reasonable notice) and happy to travel.

It’s a little a bit of give and take and I am trying to be flexible too…

A recent report has stated that both MPs and the public agree that the Government needs to make it easier for companies to adopt flexible working policies.

The report published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and the Professional Contractors Group (PCG) reflected on a survey carried out asking 158 MPs and more than 2,000 members of the public their thoughts. It found that 86% and 78% respectively thought that encouraging a flexible labour force was important in stimulating economic growth.

The PCG and the REC have called on the Government to implement the following measures to encourage flexible working:

  • a simplified tax system, which rewards flexible work and doesn’t penalise it;
  • a review of the Agency Workers Regulations after they have been in force for a year to ensure they do not negatively affect the market in the long term; and
  • a universal credit and pensions system, in which pensions are more portable and easier to administer for flexible workers.

Recent discussions have been held on whether the right to request flexible working should be extended. There seems to be agreement that flexible working is good for business however no consensus on how it should be regulated.

I think a little bit of flexibility (from both sides) makes life a lot easier for everyone and that’s got to be good for business.


2 thoughts on “Flexible Friends

  1. I completely agree. A lot of people ask me how I cope with my hours and travel schedule as a single mum, but it is the flexibility on both sides that makes this possible – yes sometimes I have to travel on saturdays but then I can also opt to stop in time to do a school pick up without it being a problem for anyone. Helps keep me sane and keep my enthusiasm for my job. That, and my own super-human Mum and her child-minding extraordinaire!

  2. I am in a very similar situation to Marieke. I don’t mind the odd long day or even 2 or 3 day trips away in the UK (or even abroad) – they are actually quite pleasant sometimes, and a nice break from the humdrum of school pick-ups and the relative isolation of working alone at home. But I am lucky to have a brilliant after-school club; I only have one child and the prices are very affordable, and thankfully the staff are lovely and my child loves being with them and thrives in the environment they offer, and they are flexible in allowing me to use the service on an as-needed basis. With no family support around, my working life would not be possible without them. I also put a lot of effort into cultivating a support network through other parents – this takes time to build though, and my last effort involved having nine girls for a sleepover! I have needed to ask these friends for favours on the occasions when the demands of my work and my husband’s conspired to make it impossible to cover the childcare between us. I also need work to understand that sometimes it will be impossible for me to travel – there are only so many times that one can (or should) take advantage of others’ generosity. On the other hand, the flexibility that means I can take some time out to go to the school assembly, do most of the school pick-ups, and most importantly attend the Christmas play, is priceless in my eyes. I agree, it is all about flexibility on both sides, and balance.

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