I’m not saying I’ve reached what one of my Directors once referred to as “career peak” but, as middle age firmly sets in, I can say that work is just one of many priorities I have in my life right now. I’ve probably got at least another 20 years at work, but I needed to strike a better balance between paid work, my roles as a Father and husband, and my health.
For the last few months, I’ve been working flexibly. Specifically, in my case, I’ve been working part-time, 4 days a week. Contractually 30 hours but, given that I’m output-driven, it’s probably more like 40-45. It works well for me.
A few months ago I picked up a new podcast that was being auditioned on the WB-40 podcast feed. I listened to Pauline Yau (@PaulineYau) talking about flexible working and her new venture “The Flexible Movement” and found myself thinking “Yes! Yes, I’ve seen that! And I do that!”.
Shortly afterwards, Pauline and I had a chat and the result is Episode 3 of the Flexible Movement podcast:
A new episode of The Flexible Movement podcast is now available! I talk to @markwilsonit about his experiences of working flexibly as a man, the attitudes of others and how to submit a successful request for flexible working. https://t.co/w9mdju2xT9— FlexibleMovement (@FlexiMovement) January 9, 2019
In the podcast, Pauline and I chat about many things but I mention how I worked with my current employer to achieve a positive outcome. I also talk about a less favourable experience elsewhere – the key difference being that I didn’t know (or follow) the right process.
Flexible working is not just for parents. My generation increasingly finds ourselves squeezed between raising a family and caring for elderly relatives but there are many reasons why people might want to break away from the “nine to five”. In the UK, employees with at least 26 weeks’ service have the right to request flexible working* once a year but employees don’t have to agree to the request. There are specific grounds though and I’m sure every company with an HR department will have a process.
The video below is produced by
And I found the following links really useful when I was requesting the change in my working practices:
- GOV.UK: flexible working pages.
- ACAS advice on the right to request flexible working.
- ACAS code of practice for
handingflexible working requests in a reasonable manner.
- Working Families advice on flexible working: how to ask for a change in working hours.
“Employees that feel more in control of their work-life balance are better motivated and focused in the workplace”Working Families, 2016
Hopefully, one day, flexible working will become “normal”. For now, it relies on a supportive culture (something this BBC article touches on). It may take a generation but I really believe one day we’ll look back office workers attending a fixed place of work for set hours on weekdays the way we look back at working for one employer our whole lives today.
*Flexible working is not “working from home on a Friday”, as some might like to think.