Businesses who are working towards a more flexible workforce with “ad-hoc” home working are building a more positive workforce.
A study carried out by AWA – Advances Workplace Associates discovered that allowing staff to work from home reduces sickness and absenteeism. Surprisingly it is also found to improve morale and productivity.
This is positive news as it demonstrates that forward thinking companies in these economic times are embracing flexible working and moving with the times.
There are a number of businesses who are promoting their flexible work policies and are leading the way. Some of these include; Unilever, Aviva, GlaxosmithKline and Nationwide.
Even though this promotes positive attitude and productivity it is equally important that clear policies and guidelines are given to ensure successful usage of home working to ensure it is not abused.
I must admit I was lucky with the support from my boss when I went on maternity leave with my second baby. My bosses were equally very lucky as I meticulously handed over a smooth running operation with full instructions. Famous last words as I waddled out of the office “You can call me whenever…..Not a problem”
I always had a very open and trusting relationship with my superiors. Especially with the career I was in, I could work flexibly, hold down a senior position and enjoyed a very good level of success across the company. It was a two way street which worked.
I knew that my bosses were nervous when I announced my pregnancy, but provided support and together we planned well ahead for my maternity leave, conducted extra training and I was heavily involved right up to the minute I left. I was even emailing, replying to Blackberry messages, offering guidance after my daughter was born. I even attended a meeting just 2 months after she was born. It was what I thought I should and had to do to sustain my senior position. I suppose deep down I thought I would drift away if I didn’t keep involved. It was very stressful and part of me does regret being so consumed during the first few months of my baby’s life but I was going back quite soon and I had to be on top of my career.
Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. I look back now and I should have completely switched off and taken my full maternity leave and just let it be. I was worrying about nothing and creating unnecessary stress. I can confidently say this as I left 6 months after I retuned from maternity leave. The whole company changed during that year with a big help from the recession and many of the decisions taken I couldn’t change anyway. Lesson learned. With or without me it was never going to be the same.
So my advice is just embrace your maternity leave and be savvy enough to keep an ear open from your workplace with business updates, politics, colleagues and anything else to keep you up to date. If you can switch off and don’t waste any special moments then do it. What will be will be. You will never get the time back.
The whole purpose of launching allmumkind presented itself to me when I changed course and stepped away. So, as you can see, you never know what’s around the corner and for me I am the happiest I have been. The guilt of wasting some precious moments does surface, but I look where I am now and my guilt lessens as I am with my children more than if I had stayed put.
This week I started a new, full time, job. It seemed like a great idea at the time; I believed it was just what I was looking for – local to where I live so no long commute, a big company (which is what I’ve been used to working for), in an business sector which interested me, and the content of the job was challenging enough to be interesting, but not so much that I was going to be out of my comfort zone.
However, a day before my start date I was told that it had been put back a day, and I was also advised I’d be spending the first couple of days in London. That was OK. I could deal with that, as my hubby was working nights and therefore around during the day to drop and pick up my son from school.
A day later I subsequently found out that the agency hadn’t quite given me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about my salary. It kind of took the shine off the situation. I was due to start work the next day, and I seriously considered doing something which I have never done before… pulling out of the job before I’d even started. I felt “had over” by the agency, but decided that for the sake of my professional pride let alone anything else, that I had to at least give it a chance.
So on the day in question I went into Central London to start my Induction. However during the course of the day I was told by new employers that they expected me to work 08.30-18.00, and not 09.00-17.00 as I’d been told by the agency, this added fuel to the fire and further doubt in my mind.
The days itself went well. I was shown round the immense building where all the corridors looked the same, introduced to a plethora of people who’s names I knew I wouldn’t remember, and given so much new information, I developed a headache. To say I wasn’t as enthusiastic as when I was offered the job was an understatement. So by the time I left the office at twenty to 6, I felt dead on my feet, seriously regretting my choice of footwear, and couldn’t wait to get home. The commute home was, as to be expected at that time of the day, a living hell. I couldn’t physically get on a tube train for 5 trains, which meant that by the time I got to the train station time was pressing on. Luckily I managed to catch the required train with a minute to go. Someone must be looking down on me!! The train finally rolled in at 7.15pm and I wearily got though the door soon after as my hubby came to collect me from the station, with my little boy in the back in his pajamas, ready for bed. I felt guilty as hell and further doubts started to creep in about what a bad mother I was being, believing myself to be selfish. Talk about beating myself up?!
The minute we walked through the door the bedtime ritual of story time started, whilst my hubby cooked dinner. I changed out of my work clothes and came downstairs, eating my dinner at 8pm. At half past, my hubby went to work and I went to bed, physically exhausted and wondering what to do about my situation. Should I stay (pro’s; it was a wonderful opportunity, would be mostly local, the extra money would come in very useful, and the job has the possibility of being more long term if it all works out. Con’s; Having to go into London weekly, how were school holidays going to be dealt with, the hours and how it would affect the family, motherly guilt, and overall massive recriminations)
I slept like a log, which is unusual when hubby is working nights as I’m usually so restless. My son woke up at 5am which meant that I was also up at this time. The plan was for my hubby to get in from work around 6.30am, have breakfast together, and then drop me off at the station at 8am to get in for 9.30am, and then drop my son off at school. By 7.30am there was still no sign of hubby as he’d been delayed. I was mentally making a Plan B about dropping my son off with a friend and rushing myself to the station when hubby finally turned up. Luckily I’d had the foresight to buy a train ticket the evening before, avoiding the massive queue that had formed and which would have delayed me still further. I caught the 8.03 train and was walking through the office door at 09.15!
Friday went much better than Thursday. I met the senior Director that I was going to be working for and had a chat with her about hours (amongst other things). I’d decided to approach the subject on the basis that I had been advised the hours of 9-5 by the agency and planned my childcare around this. If she was anti-working Mums then I wouldn’t want to be in the job working for someone with that attitude anyway. Not that I expect special treatment… just some empathy and understanding. She was totally fine about it, asked about my son and told me she has an 18 month old little girl. The subject was quickly dealt with and I was worrying over nothing it seems!
I had a good day on Friday, left the office at 5pm and arrived at our local station at 6pm (the wonders of catching the fast train and the difference it makes!) I can cope with that!! I start at my office base on Monday so it will be a whole new set of buildings and people to get used to, but having a little knowledge about the set up in the London office, I feel confident that things are going to be OK….. Moral of the Story – nothing is as bad as it may first seem. Monday? Bring it on!!