September 03, 2016

Why Flexible Working Makes Me 100% Happier

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I’ve joined a new campaign called “Hire Me My Way” to call all employers to commit to advertising all of their roles as open to flexible working. Read on….

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At my old job I only worked 4 full days a week. Before that, for six years since graduation, I’d worked full-time. Duh that’s what everyone does. It never ever even crossed my mind that I could one day work flexibly, in any way, shape or form. You go to work, every day, for the same amount of hours, from the same location. Of course you do.

But somewhere along the line I had asked for some time off. I need that extra time (Wednesdays) to finish writing my book, run my blog, and do all the things I enjoyed doing “on the side”, so I could test it out a bit more. I soon realised that this day off not only increased my happiness and reduced my anxiety, but it turned out to be a good idea financially too  – aka freelancing and building up other contacts. I was often made to feel guilty and frivolous for prioritising my passions, but I did it anyway. And thank god I did.

Some would call it a “side-hustle” but really, running my own business was the real thing I wanted to be doing. To call it a “side-hustle” wasn’t really representing it correctly.

I loved my past jobs; and I felt so lucky to have them and brilliant colleagues who are still close friends of mine now. But running my self-made business felt like my true calling and I just knew that losing a day’s salary was going to be worth the sacrifice of what “could be” during that time. So: when I accepted my last job, I told them I couldn’t work the whole five days a week. I need some time to myself. They said yes.

Now, some would roll their eyes at this. Some would think: “what makes you think you shouldn’t work full-time? Plus: you don’t have any kids. What do you possibly need any time for?”

(That is what someone did say to me).

I’m sure people thought “lazy entitled millennial”.

(This would make me laugh because I wasn’t working less hours, I was working more combining the two.)

But the point is: we are in charge of our own time, but sometimes we forget that because we are socially conditioned to work the same way people did decades before the Internet came along.

Sometimes we have to fight to be understood. Sometimes we have to feel worthy enough to even ask the question. Because that’s all it starts with: a simple question. I would never have finished my first book or built relationships with new clients if I didn’t ever ask. Having a small amount of breathing space did wonders for my anxiety levels and creativity and health.

So this why I’ve partnered with Timewise and their amazing Hire Me My Way campaign. I really believe in getting rid of the stigma around flexible working.

“Flexible working” can mean loads of different things: part time hours, compressed hours, term-time, job-sharing or remote/home working. We’re not talking about unrealistic things like blogging from a hammock, here.

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I believe the landscape of “work” is changing on the whole. With the Internet and the crazy amount of technology at our finger tips, set routines are changing. Having face-to-face interactions with colleagues is really important, but my levels of productivity were definitely higher when I wasn’t surrounded by people 24/7. We all work differently but are often expected to fit into a one-size-fits-all routine.

Some people are extremely easy risers, some are night owls (like me) so it’s been proven in some cases that 9am-5pm can be the least productive time of the day for some people. Let alone mega introverts like me who struggle with constant interaction. Being drained in any way isn’t great for productivity. Being made to feel like an annoying inconvenience anytime you take a doctor’s appointment isn’t cool. Flexibility is needed in so many ways. And not everyone is the same.

But this isn’t about me. I’m just telling my story to give a personal context – the real crux of this full-time work issue is the new parents out there, people with disabilities or severe mental health problems, or people on the cusp of retirement, they need flexibility too.

I think wanting flexibility affects all of us, in totally different ways. After all, 86% of part-time workers CHOOSE to work part-time (5.7 million people).

So HERE’S THE THING.

According to the latest research from the CIPD, there are 54% of UK employees who now work flexibly, YET, according to Timewise’s Flexible Jobs Index, only 8.7% of all UK jobs mention any form of flexible working options in the job ad.

Meaning: at the moment you have less than 1 in 10 jobs to apply for if you want to work flexibly.

So! Join me! In signing up to the new campaign Hire Me My Way by signing up to the campaign HERE. Not only are you adding your story to the mix, but you’ll also receive a free guidance pack on how to go about finding flexible work. The aim is to inspire and motivate employers to EMBRACE flexible hiring and provide them with practical support to adapt their recruitment system.

Do you feel like your work life could be improved by flexible working?

Let’s get rid of the stigma, together.

Sign up here, today.

hirememyway.org.uk

*This post is sponsored by Timewise. I am so so passionate about this and I’m thrilled to be working with them.*

 

  • Thank you Emma, completely agree with all the points raised in your blog. We’re passionate about Flexible Working too!

  • I made my request today – took me a year to build up to it! Fingers crossed! x

  • Fantastic write up I couldn’t agree more ! Never feeling like I fitted in with a 9-5 working life I now work part time and flexibility around my own business 🙂 it works for me not for all! But that’s ok .. I don’t feel we all fit the one box

  • Becky

    Well said Emma. When I started my current job – a position I was head-hunted for, not one I applied for – I asked if I could work four days a week to enable me to continue with some freelance work. The answer was no. I accepted the job anyway and squeezed freelance work into evenings and weekends but three years on and the complete lack of acceptance of any form of flexible working has pushed me to quit. I finish in three weeks with no full-time job to go to but already feel 100 times happier.

  • As a mother of two, I’ve always felt that everyone should have the option of flexible working, not just people with kids. Enjoy the freedom to be creative and pursue your dreams. X

  • I’m SO much happier with a flexible working schedule. I’ve been freelance for a few years now and hate the idea of asking someone permission to take time off to go to a doctor or dentist, just seems so archaic and distrusting. Love that I can plan my working around when I’m most productive – just makes more sense!

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