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Steeple Aston
Oxfordshire
UK

9-2-3 is a recruitment agency that specialises in placing high quality candidates into jobs with hours that fit in around the school run.

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Blog

Case studies and thoughts on the working Mum in today's workplace

 

Flexi-Star series pt 5: Helen Bryce, Cheerleader for Women @ The Guilty Mothers Club

Helen Wright

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What do you do when you've moved to a new area and want to make a difference for working Mothers...set-up a fantastic community just like Helen, founder of The Guilty Mothers Club did,  providing support for those Mothers wishing to return to the workplace....flexibly!

Here's Helen telling us more about the Club and how it continues to grow...

Q1. 1. Tell us who you are and a little about yourself… 

Hi, I'm Helen. Mum of three (7. 5. 3) soon to be four (due in October). I live with my husband in Manchester. I founded Guilty Mothers Club around 3 years ago now with the aim of supporting more women in returning to work after maternity leave, changing career and finding that elusive work - life alignment. I'd experienced maternity discrimination, moved to a new area where I had no real community and was feeling totally lost and frustrated about the whole thing. What started with running small in person workshops and the odd supper club locally has now grown to an online membership community and a range of online courses which I am so proud to say are now helping more mums have a better experience than I did. Over 100 have now done Game Changers and switched things up on the work front, I get giddy talking about this. I am exceptionally passionate about changing the current crap working mums often face and often can be found boring people stupid with my feminist rants and enthusiasm for change. 

Q2. What’s your flexible working purpose? 

Our flexible working purpose is in helping more parents in applying for and making flexible working work in reality (within our Rock your Return programme). Also, for those who decide returning to a current employer isn't the right thing, or who are feeling lost or frustrated or stuck, to find a new way of working (Game Changers). For some this means switching roles or departments within their current employer, considering new ways to work flexibly (which has at times meant moving to a new employer) and also plenty deciding to start a business, go freelance or retrain in something new. We talk a lot about portfolio careers and how to really understand what it is that you are brilliant at or passionate about. Understanding this and what the ideal work / home set up might look like is key. 

Q3. What encouraged you to start your flexible working journey?

Actually, when I started Guilty Mothers Club I was already working flexibly after returning from my first maternity leave part time for a large corporate in HR (talent management and leadership development).

However, this still meant long hours, a long commute and I found sadly that in doing so I also gave up all chances of further progression (something I know can be frustratingly common). I really felt the overwhelm which I also know is common for women in particular, from trying to do and be everything in such a small amount of time. Over the next few years and for a variety of reasons we made choices and decisions to try and change some of this. I now work for myself 4 days a week and feel like I have more work:life alignment than ever before. My husband works flexibly too, he is now fully appreciating and enjoying the benefits flexible working can bring and our lives are very different to eight years ago. 

Q4. What’s your top tip for those seeking flexible work or those who need to ask for this at work?

My top tip would be to try and find out as much as possible about what is on your employer's mind and have as much informal discussion as possible prior to making a formal request. A KIT day can be a great way to do this because you hear more about projects that are happening, who is currently doing what and can scope out and chat to potential job share partners or just test the waters of what could be possible. If your line manager describes some potential hurdles then you know to really focus on how these can be overcome within any request you make, which I think can be more effective than just sending something in cold. 

Register here to attend our National Flexible Working Day on 12th September to join in the conversation around flexible working, see how it works in action and talk to business' who are doing this already. If you can't attend in person, why not join in online, posting your comments and questions (and we'd love to see your pictures too) using our hashtag #LetsAllFlexTogetherDay - see you there!

Flexi-Star series pt 4: Nikki Cochrane - CoFo of Digital Mums

Helen Wright

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As a recent grad of the Digital Mums programme, I know how hard this team of flexi professionals work to launch the careers of Mums of all shapes and sizes via the world of Social Media. We were lucky enough to grab Nikki for our quick-fire flexi questions to tell us how she sees it...did you know that Digital Mums have just launched yet another fab course for Mums who need a tech refresh too? It's called Digital Retox and you can check it out here

  • Tell us who you are and a little about yourself…

I’m Nikki and I live in East London with my gorgeous French Bulldog, Rolo. I’m also co-founder of Digital Mums, which my brilliant work wife, Kathryn Tyler, and I set up to help mums find rewarding and flexible work that they could sync with family life. 

  • What’s your flexible working purpose?

Our goal at Digital Mums is to help women return to the workplace, hustle for the roles - and pay - they deserve and make positive changes in their current careers. We empower women with flexible work - or #WorkThatWorks as we call it - by building digital and workplace confidence on our Digital Retox course and getting mums job-ready in a flexible career on our vocational Social Media management programmes.

We’re also keen supporters of flexible working for all - not just mums. This is why we started our #WorkThatWorks Movement a few years ago to help flexible working become the ‘norm’ rather than the ‘exception’ for a lucky few

  • What encouraged you to start your flexible working journey?

Both Kathryn and I lost our dads when we were younger and saw our mums struggle to find rewarding work they could do around childcare. With 54,000 mums forced out of their jobs each year because of maternal discrimination, we realised things hadn’t moved on that much despite the technological changes meaning working in an office 9-5 was no longer necessary - or even fit for purpose. 

With Digital Mums we’re trying to readdress that balance. We’ve now trained over 1,500 mums with 4 in 5 of them going on to find flexible work thanks to our training. 

  • What’s your top tip for those seeking flexible work or those who need to ask for this at work?

Go in with a plan and show how your flexible work proposal can benefit the business too. And always ask for a trial. Very few employers can refuse a trial and by the end of it you will have the chance to show how your more flexible working pattern has had no effect on the way you work. More than likely you’ll actually be able to prove how its helped productivity! We actually made a short video here to show how to ask for flexible working - you might recognise some of the people in it!

 

Register here to attend our National Flexible Working Day on 12th September to join in the conversation around flexible working, see how it works in action and talk to business' who are doing this already. If you can't attend in person, why not join in online, posting your comments and questions (and we'd love to see your pictures too) using our hashtag #LetsAllFlexTogetherDay - see you there!

Diane Lightfoot joins us for #LetsAllFlexTogetherDay 2018!

Helen Wright

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We're delighted to have Diane join us for the launch of the National Flexible Working Day 2018. As the CEO of the Business and Disability Forum, she has a great depth of expertise to add to ur Flexible Working panel on the day and tell us why Flexible Working really should be for everyone.

Here, she sits down with us and tells us how she'll be contributing on the day....

 

  1. Tell us who you are and about your role?

I’m CEO of Business Disability Forum, a not for profit membership organisation and registered charity which exists to support businesses to recruit and retain disabled employees and serve disabled customers. Ultimately, our mission is about transforming the life chances of disabled people as employees and consumers. As CEO, I lead a team of really passionate, creative people who provide practical advice and support to our 300 Members and Partners via our Advice Service, Training, Events, Resources and consultancy and who lobby on key policy issues. I’m also lucky enough to work closely with our member and partner organisations – who include a huge range of household names and together employ 15% of the UK workforce – to create tools and campaigns for change.

 

       2. Why do you feel that flexible working should be for all?

One of the top topics – and frequently asked questions – to our Advice Service is workplace adjustments; what they are, how to make them and what options are possible. Whilst people tend to think of pieces of “kit” when they think of adjustments, one of the simplest and most impactful adjustments in improving the experience of disabled employees is flexible working and indeed it is the most common adjustment in the UK. Flexible working means that people can avoid travelling in rush hour, if that causes stress or anxiety for example or if it is difficult to accommodate a wheelchair on a packed train. Having the ability to work remotely can also be very helpful for example for people with energy-limiting conditions who also might want to work a split day to manage energy levels. Of course, flexible working can benefit everyone and if it is available to all you reduce the need for people to have to ask when they might not want to tell you why they need it, whether that is because of a disability or caring responsibilities, for example. It also reduces any possible resentment around “special treatment” for some and not others.

      3. Have you seen any benefits of working flexibly to date?

We know that flexible working patterns have been the difference between employees staying in work and not going back to work. We also know that employees enjoy work more if they can work flexibly – it can create a better work-life balance and enable people to be not only a better employee, but also a better partner, parent, etc. Flexible working also fits with a focus on outcomes and on what you need done rather than being prescriptive about how and when something should be done. Flexible working gives employees the space to figure out how best they can achieve those outcomes – and if you focus on the outcomes rather than process then people will have the freedom to work in the way that makes them most effective and most productive – and that’s good for the business too.

      4. What’s your top tip for businesses who are yet to implement this practice?

The top tip for businesses is simply to try it!

      5. What will you and your company be doing to support National Flexible Working day 2018?

I’ll be supporting it by speaking at the 923 event on 12 September and we will use it as a hook to continue to promote the benefits of flexible working for disabled employees.

 

Register here to attend our National Flexible Working Day on 12th September to join in the conversation around flexible working, see how it works in action and talk to business' who are doing this already. If you can't attend in person, why not join in online, posting your comments and questions (and we'd love to see your pictures too) using our hashtag #LetsAllFlexTogetherDay - see you there!