Posted 16/03/2018

The Champions Fighting for Flexible Working

The traditional Monday-Friday 9-5 model is so outdated

In this post, I’d like to celebrate some great individuals and organisations who are doing their bit for flexible working.

As you know, this is a passion of mine and forms the basis of Live, Love, Work, Prosper,my latest book.

With technology allowing us to stay connected anywhere, any time, there really is no need for us to be forced to check in to the office for the “traditional” hours of 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. This model is so outdated.

In fact, the 9-5 was the ethos of industrialist Robert Owen, in 1817 – some two hundred years ago! – based on a pattern of 8 hours work, 8 hours leisure time and 8 hours rest per day.

It is crazy to think that not much has changed in this time.

So, my first shout out goes to the groundbreaking company Digital Mums for stating – loud and clear – that the “coat on the back of chair” culture should finally be assigned to another era.

In providing high-end training for mums in Social Media & Digital Marketing, Digital Mums has addressed a gap in the maternal employment market and an opportunity for businesses to reap rewards from working with these highly-skilled flexible workers. Mostly working remotely, these “Digital Mums’ can fit work and life around each other, enabling them to enjoy motherhood and be present for their children and those all-important sports days/assemblies/doctors’ appointments etc., all while keeping their career afloat.

Well done to this brilliant organisation for empowering women to return to work, upskilled and relevant to today’s digital world.

Next, I recently watched an interesting piece on Victoria Derbyshire Live, about the rise of flexible working, and it was pleasing to see the results that some companies are experiencing having adopted a more flexible approach to business operations.  Two companies, Normally Design and Pursuit Marketing, were featured. What’s remarkable is that they work on a 4-day-week basis and representatives for both insist that the model is working, with Pursuit reporting a 30% increase in productivity since the shorter week was introduced and excellent levels of staff retention and satisfaction!

Broader statistics around employment also speak volumes for fighting for a change in traditional working patterns:

  • There are over 32 million people in employment in the UK, with 1 in 8 working more than 48 hours a week.
  • Over 60% of those surveyed by Business In The Community for their Mental Health at Work Report 2017 reported a mental health problem due to work, or work, being a contributing factor.
  • Of those 60% who disclosed their mental health problem, 15% were subject to disciplinary procedures, demoted or dismissed.
  • Research shows that poor work/life balance impacts on mental health and can cost the economy up to £100 billion per year.

This is a huge problem for industry and economy.

So why are we putting ourselves through this when statistics also show that reducingworking hours and/or taking a more flexible approach actually boosts productivity and morale?

Those of you who are familiar with my beliefs and working model will know that I think work/life balance is itself outdated. I believe that work and life should not be treated as two separate things but, instead, allowed to sing together harmoniously via clever and efficient use of technology.

We can all have the power and tools to work remotely at least some of the time, and businesses who adopt more flexible working practices are likely to be rewarded with more satisfied and productive employees.

My final nod to another champion in this area goes to the brains behind a campaign known as Flex Appeal. Anna Whitehouse, AKA Mother Pukka, campaigns tirelessly to promote awareness of the Working Forward pledge. This was launched by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to make workplaces the best they can possibly be for pregnant women and returning mothers. It’s great to see that major organisations, such as John Lewis, Mitie and Deloitte, are on board with this pledge and have put flexible working arrangements in place.

From organising flash mobs in major UK cities, managing a regular blog, maintaining a career in journalism and being arguably one of the most well-known “Insta-mums” in the UK, all while juggling the needs of two young children, Anna Whitehouse showcases productivity and work/life integration at its finest. She also, crucially, believes that flexible working should be extended to all, not just mothers.

What this all tells us is that a necessary shift is happening…

Yes, it’s a slow burn and not something that is going to happen overnight… but finally big businesses are seeing that if we harness modern technology in order to be able to work more efficiently, it will undoubtedly have a positive impact on productivity and therefore economic growth.

And hats off to the “little guys” who are ahead of the curve and paving the way for us all to Live Love Work Prosper!

Live Love Work Prosper is available to order on Amazon and I would be keen to hear your views on it.


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