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....
- 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!