Change is the only constant, the universal truth. Times have changed and so has the lifestyle of the family. Individuals need to be ready to travel for better career options and nuclear families are taking precedence. Nearly every home has a computer and the internet is faster than ever before. Women are now equal to men in almost every area and we have a range of rights that should empower us and support our dreams and achievements.
Yet, it frustrates me when I hear that women are frightened to ask their boss for flexible working hours. I’m even more disheartened when I hear that women are still being penalized for childcare arrangements in the interview process. Many women, as well as men, are crying out for flexible work hours, but here lies the problem. I myself cried out silently while sitting at my desk working 9 – 5. Of course there is nothing wrong with this, but inside I craved some flexibility. However, the majority of employers are not offering flexible working opportunities. Nor do they embrace the fact that society and people’s lifestyle has changed.
I Want It All
I have gone from an employed woman striving to fit in with other peoples’ expectations of a subdued accountant, to becoming disillusioned with the work environment. I desire to enjoy all aspects of life including family, romance, wealth and being in control of my own time. This is why I love running my own business.
Unmistakably, I’ve always enjoyed my work in the accounting field but I soon began to feel that time was always running out and I wasn’t able to fulfil my responsibilities outside of work or concentrate on any self development. Of course when you are on the payroll that job should be ‘your number one priority’.
But the reality is that when you don’t have time to enjoy your life and fulfil your other commitments you start to feel unmotivated and disheartened. I used this as a big push to start up my own business. I strongly believe that women have no problem committing to a long term, high-powered or demanding job. However, we need a flexible work arrangement.
The Truth About Employees
Why do employees, particularly women really want flexible working? The truth is we want time to manage our lives without having to haggle and barter for time off. We want to avoid that guilty feeling when the doctor is only available during work hours for appointments.
It’s important to me to be there for my child when she is ill, to go to childrens’ concerts and support my husband with his interests and ventures. I’m also eager to learn new things and value every opportunity to develop my skills, for example, studying for a qualification, seminars on new technology and training in leadership.
Perhaps a vacation during the non peak season or just peaceful hours at home can be planned with more ease. Isn’t it a nightmare trying to arrange a repair around working hours when the boiler breaks down? Or it may be as straightforward as just wanting to spend some quality time with family. Spending time with my grandparents is crucial to me and I don’t want to live life with regrets that I didn’t use my time wisely.
Life is full of unforeseen emergencies that can become less stressful when there is more flexibility with time. The truth is employees do work hard in the present economic climate and deserve to enjoy and plan their personal time a lot more. Employers must respect that individuals have a life outside of work.
But What’s It Like for An Employer?
Stats prove that only 26% of the total working women are provided high level of flexible working options. As of 2012, still 72% employers had not planned to introduce any of the flexible working options. To retain and keep their employees happy the companies need to accept this policy with much more zeal. Studies have proved that flexible working hours have increased employee retention considerably in companies. According to research done by Natwest International Personal Banking, 67% prefer remote working and are enjoying it.
Even though 75% of the marketing professional population comprises of females, males are twice as likely to reach the top slot. Furthermore, males are better paid then women in the marketing field. The field is dominated by women being paid les then their male counterparts. The reason is easy, women either have to quit or search for other job options to suit the family demands. As said by Shenagh Gleisner, chief executive, NZ Ministry of Women’s Affairs, “Things have to change in men’s and women’s and employer’s heads.”
Who Else Cares?
The government has become more flexible with maternal & paternal leave and asks organizations to do the same. You can put your request to the employer explaining the situation and the need for flexible working hours.
Nowadays smaller companies and entrepreneurs realize the importance of flexible working and are including it as part of their mission (e.g. www.neardesk.com). Now that I’ve also gone from employee to employer, I understand there can be a conflict of interest about working hours. However, I will keep my commitment to flexible working because increased productivity, increased motivation and saving on the overheads of running an office 8 hours a day are great benefits.
Technology has made working remotely much easier and there are companies designed to support a flexible structure. For example there are providers of bookkeeping, marketing, virtual meeting and other IT solutions that allow employers to work anywhere and anytime.
If you’re an employer are you making changes to implement flexible working?
Or if you are a working woman how do you feel when faced with the challenge of discussing flexible working?