Flexible Working

Ah good old writers block had me in it’s powerful embrace this last few weeks. Mind Untitled design (9)blank and page even more so I just couldn’t think of what to write for you all.

In my infinite wisdom I decided that I was going to write a post based upon one of todays ‘trends for you’ hashtags on my Twitter feed.

Genius idea if I do say so myself.

My choices are:

#WorldCancerDay

#FlexibleWorking

#ChildrensMentalHealthWeek

#Superbowl

#MondayMotivation

#WorldCancerDay2019

#ItsNotOK

#NationalSickieDay

Now, I feel swamped with ideas – go figure!

Right then, let’s talk flexible working.

As a child growing up I had 2 dream jobs. First I wanted to be a butcher (my mum LOVES to share that little tidbit) our local butcher was a really old fashioned one, the staff were incredibly friendly and they still had sawdust on the floor! My mum says I used to say I loved the smell haha! I suspect I was always a little feral and liked being *just* different enough to all the other girls my age!

As I grew older the desire to work with raw meat dwindled and I got interested in writing and wanted to be a journalist. I even joined the Newsround press packers club as a kid, I vividly imagined having my own editor shouting at me just like Perry White of The Daily Planet. Oh, to the very core of my being, I wanted to be just like Kate Adie.

Life however, doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. I left school at 14 and my dream of a degree in English was dashed away and I felt destined for the old 9-5 (Sing it, please sing it, I know I did!)

I then imagined myself as a bit of a yuppie.

In the 90’s I was a teenager with the future I’d planned written off. If I couldn’t have that life I thought I would instead have a huge mobile phone, power suit and a briefcase, the only woman in a boardroom of men having worked my way up from the typing pool, making change and organising the shit out of business (I clearly watched a lot of 80s/90s movies).

Instead I got married, had a baby (returned to work when he was 5 months old) and worked on my career part time, in ways that worked around my husbands’ job and in ways that I felt my relationship allowed.

As my son got older I worked in some great industries and my skill and confidence grew, I was getting promoted and life got better with every role. By 25 I was a single mum with some hard fought for qualifications and some decent experience but I was also struggling to build the stellar career of my dreams around my son.

I’d never been around people that didn’t work traditionally. Where I grew up it was mostly factory work and office jobs and it seemed that once you had a family your career slowed down, almost halted in fact.

Flexible working meant working as a lunch lady (fabulous job by the way) or working shift work 6-2 / 2-10 & 10 – 6. When my son was 6 months old I chose the shift work as a way to just earn some money.  

It was not family friendly – not for me anyway! I actually toyed with the idea of becoming some kind of virtual assistant at this point however, I simply had no idea how to do it and let myself be dissuaded.

Looking back, I’m not even sure that there was even a term for these things. Now I recognise them for what they are. The cracks a teenager fell through in the education system, the maternal wall a new mum hit, the gender stereotyping and small town mentality.

Flexible working wasn’t a dirty phrase it was a non-existent one.

Yet I knew I wanted it. It’s like pineapple on pizza – frowned upon by traditionalists but my goodness the thought of it made/makes my mouth water!

Over the last decade, with the advent of the internet and the boom in social media things are changing. Not to mention that as a society we are far more open to equal family responsibility.

There is a real drive for flexibility, for location independence and for access to flexible work for men and women alike. There are some people doing amazing things in this arena.

Digital Mums offer courses that modernise your skills and make sure you’re ready to work virtually in the modern world. Mutha_Pukka aka Anna Whitehouse and her husband have really been championing flexible working and, for all it’s faults, social media has played a monumental role in moving this forward.

When my circumstances changed with my hand injury in 2017 (read a bit more about that here) I realised that had I been flexibly working I wouldn’t have experienced the sheer panic that I did. Well, actually I would have probably panicked a little as self-employed people do at times like this. However, being employed in a role that couldn’t accommodate more flexible working meant my income was no safer at all (for my particular role this is, the company I worked for has actually taken massive strides in this)

Flexible working for me means this; having the ability to adjust my work schedule in such a way that accommodates personal circumstances – without fear of recrimination. It means committing to a certain volume of work and undertaking it to an agreed deadline whether that means working 9-5 or 6-3 etc.  It’s about me having more control over my working life than a CEO that doesn’t even realise I exist does.

I genuinely can’t imagine my life without the ability to manage my work/life balance in this way now and the stress relief and freedom it has allowed me has been utterly priceless.

What is your idea of flexible working? Do you think we are further forward now than we were 10 years ago or do you still think this is a hell of a fight?

Or, are you on the fence entirely? Do you think that the traditional working model is actually the best and that we are all making a mountain out of a molehill in these politically correct times?

Don’t forget that liking, commenting on and sharing these posts  helps small businesses like The Amy Johnson stay visible and I for one really appreciate it.

Thanks for reading,

A x

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