Released On 30th Sep 2019
Kemi's blog: Flexible working
Since becoming a parent, I was very thankful when my younger son stopped breastfeeding at 11 months and moved into his own room, I was thankful when my older son got accepted into his first school choice but what I am most thankful for is the chance to continue my career and have those rare moments when I can drink tea whilst it’s still hot. I am very thankful for the fact that my employer supports flexible and part-time working and I am able to work remotely from home once every week without having to “fight” for it. Adapting to work was tough the first time around when I had my first son, not just for me, but also my family. When I returned to work after my first maternity leave my company did not have a well-established flexible working policy and working from home was at your manager’s discretion, usually on an adjacent basis such as when you were expecting a big delivery. The second time around, I returned back to work on a 4 day-a-week basis, giving me Fridays to spend at home with my boys. On top of that, I am able to work from home once a week. Flexible working has made the whole process slightly easier this time around especially as my commute time into canary wharf is about 75 minutes each way.
Flexibility works both ways and occasionally it will of course happen that an important team meeting is scheduled for my day off which means I can be “flexible enough” to dial into the meeting from home. There are also evenings that I have to log in to complete a time pressured report or send an email to the offshore team in India. However, forgetting about me when I work from home is not uncommon and it means I have to work harder to remain a part of my team. More often than not, I miss the team socials and networking events which I have made peace with.
Similarly, on the home front, it is not always easy as some days I get dragged into issues at home that would otherwise have been resolved by my weekday nanny and/or husband. Occasionally, despite having a study room, it can be much harder to focus on work when my older son returns back from school at 4:00pm and he may find an excuse to come to the study. I really try to shut off the computer after dinner but this doesn’t always happen as there are times where I have to respond to an email or meet a deadline. It’s a work in progress is all I can say. Also I try to avoid going near the fridge or eating all the cookies! Nevertheless, the benefits of flexible and remote working definitely supersedes working every work day physically from the office and these benefits have made a significant impact on allowing my career to continue. The benefits include:
I don’t see how I would have continued being a working mum if I didn’t have any flexibility as I would feel too guilty and stressed for always being absent;
I am able to manage my own timetable to suit my work and personal needs recognising that I am an individual with different needs both inside and outside of work;
I find that I work longer hours from home which is an opportunity for my team to have extended operating hours as I am usually more than happy to stay logged in to cover the US working time-zone when required;
I am able to show my face in school more frequently, deal better with sickness and doctors’ appointments;
Even after ten years, I still feel satisfied working for my employer and feel like I work in a positive working environment;
I tend to be more productive at home without the noise, distractions and chit-chat. In the 6 years since I became a mom, my performance reviews at work remained positive given how much my productivity level increased.
Flexible working is so important these days and it’s a relief that more companies are recognising the need for it whether the flexible work schedule involves part-time work days, compressing work days, flexible daily hours, telecommuting or remote working. It is usually a win-win situation like in my own case. However as can be seen in the Cityparents survey results published this week - we need to continue to promote the benefits of flexible working and there is much progress still to be made before it is an accepted norm!
Kemi works for a financial institution in Canary Warf and is a mum of two boys aged 6 and 3.