HR Manager, Helen Rogers discusses her flexible working pattern at Cundall and explains why she recommends a four day week for everyone.
What prompted your decision to work more flexibly?
The arrival of my son 5 years ago. I wanted the opportunity to spend time with him but also did not want to completely step out of work and my career. The ability to reduce my working week has allowed me to do this.
My husband has done the same which means we both get to spend one on one time with our children (we now have a daughter aged 2 as well) and it helps control childcare costs too!
How did Cundall support you in making the change?
I discussed the options with my manager who was supportive of me reducing my hours – we negotiated on the day I was out of the office as another member of the team also works part time and it made sense for both of us not to be off on the same day.
I have a laptop which allows for a bit more flexibility, if I need to work from home for example. The ability to manage my own working day on the days that I am in the office is a huge help too in terms of school/nursery drop off and pick up. I can shift my day forward starting at 7.30am and then leave at around 4/4.30pm or vice versa starting and finishing later.
What is your flexible work arrangement at Cundall?
I work Monday to Thursday 7 hours per day.
As a flexible worker do you feel that you have the same opportunities for training, development and promotion as someone who works regular hours and has the same ability and experience?
Definitely. My manager has been extremely supportive and encouraging. Whilst on maternity leave, I was invited to attend training sessions and have recently been promoted.
Sometimes events fall on my usual non-working day, but I am able to “swap” days that week to allow me to attend without losing time at home.
What challenges have you encountered as a flexible worker? How have/do you overcome them?
Sometimes it can feel like I am cramming 5 days’ work into 4. Having a laptop has its advantages – for example if I need to get home to collect my children but equally need to get an item finished the same day, I know I can pick this up again at home. On the flip side I can sometimes find work creeping into my evenings and so have to be quite disciplined with myself – it is a work in progress!
Also, it can be challenging to manage others expectations of what can reasonably be achieved in the time you have available but generally if I am upfront about my work pattern it can be worked around.
How do you communicate with your team and project developments?
Regular informal catch ups as well as team meetings to keep on top of what is going on. On the odd occasion that I work from home I and the team are easily contactable on Skype should we need anything from each other.
Are you the only member of your team working flexibly? If not, how do you ensure you are both/all up to date on projects etc?
Other members of the team also work flexibly, be it a reduced working week or remote working. Regular catch ups, team meetings and emails (although not too many) are useful to ensure that everyone is kept in the loop on joint projects or should a query come through for something I have been dealing with on my day off.
How has flexible working benefited you in terms of the impact on your personal life?
The biggest benefit is in terms of allowing me to spend extra time with my children. I enjoy my Friday school runs and hanging out with my daughter for the day. In addition having a Friday off makes me feel like I have had a weekend – I would recommend a four day week to everyone!!
Do you think the ability to work flexibly has made you better at your role at Cundall? If so, how?
I hope so! Having the flexibility to manage my day allows me to spend some quality time with my family, to not miss out on important events such as nativity plays or class open days. It is about give and take so equally if I need to come in on my day off and I can juggle childcare arrangements I will.
I also think it has made me more focused as I look to prioritise tasks – I can always improve though.
Flexible working is a key aspect of Cundall’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy. Read more about it on our website.