Bring up baby and better your career - flexible working that works!

Bring up baby and better your career - flexible working that works!

Working from home bod
There has been a lot of research surrounding women in the workplace, and about the gender gap affecting women reaching top positions as board directors, managing directors and the like. An often cited explanation for the lower numbers of women in senior roles is the decision to have a family.

Taking time off work to raise a child means that women often have to put their careers on hold, and many struggle to regain the ground they have lost when they return. However, companies who offer flexible working solutions are not only likely to have happier staff, but they are in a better position to both gain and retain top talent. This does not only apply to women. Increasingly, couples are sharing the responsibilities of both parenting and income. Flexi-time proves an attractive benefit to men, too. With 75.8% of the HR profession being female, considering flexi-time that allows women with families to remain and blossom in their careers is important. For those without childcare commitments, flexi-time can also be a blessing. No matter who you are, life can and will get in the way of work.

As of June 30th 2014, the opportunity to apply for flexible working has been extended to all UK employees, not just parents and carers. The aim is to provide a better work-life balance for all employees.

As Alex, our product manager has just returned to the Carbon360 team after having a baby, who better to ask about what she sees as the benefits of flexible working? Alex has been with Carbon360 since the very beginning, and is dedicated to and loves her job. With the help of our HR Director, Alex structured a working week which allows her to do the two things she loves most – build her career and raise her son – in harmony.

Welcome back Alex! How are you finding being a new mum and being back at work?

Thank you, it's great being back! The first few weeks were pretty manic, but now I'm back into the swing of things and able to sit down and enjoy a cuppa (before it goes cold!) it's all become a bit more enjoyable. I've had a wonderful few months getting to know my son Max, it's amazing how quickly his own character developed. We had several sessions at nursery together before I came back to work, so he got used to the staff and loved all the new toys and other babies to play with. I think he's a bit of a flirt, so was happy to be looked after by the ladies at nursery all day! 

So Alex, tell us what your considerations were when thinking about how to arrange your time on your return to work.

I love my job at Carbon360, but I knew I would be unable to dedicate as much time to it as I did before I became a mother. I didn’t want having a baby to prevent me from doing a job that I love so much though either!

I think it is a concern for many women that managers and other employees will see them as having less value to the company because naturally after they have had a child, they will have different priorities. Of course your priorities change in some ways, but my job is such a big part of my life, and I wanted to find a way to work, as well as to spend quality time with my son. I sat down with Heidi (our HR Director) and Iain (our Managing Director) to discuss how we could fit my job and nursery around sensible hours that worked for both me and the company. I think communicating honestly and openly is the key to any good HR practice, so that is what we did! 

Did you worry that Max would miss you when you went back to work?

Initially I did, but I had enough time off to spend with Max to feel confident that he would have a brilliant time without his mum! Before I headed back to the Carbon360 offices we went on lots of days out - his favorite trip is to the zoo, and I took him regularly in the week when it was quieter so he could sit in front of the cages to watch the animals. Last time we went all the penguins swam up to watch him! Now he is at nursery, he is having a brilliant time. Last week they were allowed to paint and he came home covered in it - like a little green monster. I knew he was ready (and so was I) to spend a little time apart, and that he would have a great time without me.  He's very sociable and loves spending time with new people, so I felt happy that I could leave him for the day and get back to work. 

So what did you decide?

Well nursery starts at 8am and finishes at 6pm, so without arranging my hours flexibly, I would really struggle to drop my son off or collect him. I know my workload and what is required of my role, so we decided to work in a way that would allow me to fulfil it, but would still fit around nursery times. Rather than doing a few hours a day, we decided that I would work better coming in for 3 days a week, and arranging my hours to allow me to leave that bit earlier to collect my son on time.  This gives me time to both manage my workload effectively and be a good mother to my boy.

I really appreciate how much flexibility I have been given, and that the Carbon360 team know being a mother doesn’t mean the end of my career. It is difficult balancing work and being a new parent, but by offering flexible working, I can still perform my role as well as I ever did without affecting priorities to my new family. I like knowing that I have Mondays and Fridays to spend special time with my son, which means I can focus completely and without any guilt on my work for the rest of the week.

I love that Carbon360 takes an interest in me as a person, not just an employee, and of course it works both ways. If your company is loyal to you and supports you, then you show the same courtesy back! It also means that women and men have an equal opportunity to focus on their careers, and by communicating honestly with my managers about my needs, my work is not affected. I’m really glad to be back!

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