Are you a flexible working parent is the question that most mothers are faced with from time to time in this pandemic time that we are facing. The demands of being a parent with a job would highly require someone to become a flexible working parent.
Parenting is a full-time job and the situation becomes more difficult when parents have to fulfil their parenting responsibilities while keeping their jobs to pay the bills. It becomes even more challenging when your job requires you to work 8 hours every day without exceptions.
If your company offers some flexible work arrangements, you may be able to request work from home if you need to take care of a sick child. Or request an earlier schedule so you can leave work early to pick up your kids at school. Flexible work arrangements make it easier for parents to manage both work and family needs. It also improves parent’s work-life balance overall as this allows them to avoid child care complications due to work schedules.
What is flexible working?
When a company offers flexible working arrangements, you’re able to ask for adjustments of work schedule, work hours duration, and even the location where you would like to work. Flexible working arrangements are requested, which means it can either be approved or rejected. Some reasons for rejections are:
- Higher business cost
- May affect the quality of work and productivity
- Tasks may not be delegated properly
- Fear of not meeting customer demand
- Requested working hours are not during peak hours
- Workforce changes
Keep in mind that flexible work arrangements are sought after by other employees too. They might be in the same situation as you are or could be in a more difficult predicament. This is why it is important to follow your company rules in requesting a flexible work arrangement. Aside from that, you can also consider the following guidelines when sending your request:
- Talk with your immediate superior first – Sometimes speaking to your boss about your request allows you to better prepare and learn if there are requirements for you to follow.
- Know your limits – Before sending your request, know what you think is reasonable and acceptable for both yourself and the company.
- Set your performance commitments – When preparing for your request, include goals that you can commit to and ensure that you can meet those goals. Sadly, most companies will require an exchange of your work commitment for the approval of your request.
- Offer a trial period – Provide a timeline to test your flexible working arrangement. This will allow your company to measure whether it’s working or not.
How companies implement flexible work?
Flexible work implementation may be different from one company to another. As one size doesn’t fit all. There could be policies that may need to be changed or modified. Your company also needs to consider a few factors before they decide to implement flexible working arrangements. Here are some of them:
- Identifying the number of working parents. Aside from biological parents, this also includes adoptive parents, foster parents, legal guardians, blended families, same-sex families, and grandparent-carers.
- Workplace culture cultivation. This involves encouraging employees to communicate their working needs in order to produce better work performance.
- Flexibility to flexible working arrangements. This means that flexible working arrangements are adjusted to the employee’s needs. This should be discussed thoroughly to ensure that the arrangement will work out between the employer and the employee.
Advantages of Flexible working
There are many benefits of flexible working. Parents look forward to these benefits because these are also important to them. The advantages of flexible working may differ in each person’s situations. Some of the common advantages of flexible working are the following:
More time for family
Working away from home is one of the reasons why parents are unable to spend more time with their children and families. Being able to work on your preferred schedule or working from home allows parents to be with their kids and families more, eat together, and more importantly be there when their kids need them.
Save more money
Flexible working allows you to save money in many ways. You don’t need to spend money on transportation whether it’s for gas, taxi, bus fares, or train tickets. It also allows you to save money on work clothes since you don’t need to report to work at the office. Moreover, there will be no more eating out or take out coffees which will save you more money.
No more commute
Many people don’t like daily traffic going to and from work. Parents arrive home stressed and tired leaving no time and energy for family obligations. Working from home removes these unhappy scenarios from your daily life. Also, it helps you avoid unfortunate road accidents and other safety risks of commuting.
Promotes a healthier lifestyle
Flexible working provides you with more time to take care of your health. You’re able to add more hours to your physical workout exercises or have fun doing the hobbies you love. Working at home also allows you to be able to cook your meals, make better food choices, and be able to eat healthier food.
Parents remain in the Workforce
Instead of giving up on their careers to focus on childcare, parents can keep working because of flexible working arrangements. And for the company, it boosts workplace morale, improves employee satisfaction, and retention rates.
Disadvantages of Flexible working
If there are advantages, of course, there are disadvantages to flexible working. Parents may find themselves a bit overwhelmed trying to adjust to their new makeshift work environment. Maybe you can relate to these experiences and learn from them.
Perhaps the most challenging for parents working from home is the interferences of other members of the family especially when there are kids around. Working from home would require you to have a workspace where you can work without any interruptions.
However, even with a designated workroom, some occurrences just can’t be ignored like a crying child trying to get your attention or a kid curious about what you’re doing. As a parent, you should be able to make everyone in the household understand that you can’t be distracted from work, and maybe other members of the family can offer their help in keeping the kids busy.
Lack of socialization
Some people would prefer being around their co-workers when working. They enjoy chatting with other people as part of their daily motivation. They also look forward to hanging out after work for a few drinks. Working from home may take face-to-face interaction away which can be lonely.
Fewer productivity assumptions
Some companies fear that there’s going to be a decrease in productivity or poor-quality work performance because employees are left unsupervised when working at home. Unfortunately, to counteract these assumptions some tend to increase meetings or impose higher performance goals.
However, some studies invalidate these assumptions. According to these studies, productivity goals are met and sometimes exceeded despite assumptions. One of the reasons is because employees have more time in finishing targets working comfortably at home.
In some reports, working from home allowed employees to work exceeding their work hours daily. Since they have their work systems and tools within their reach, employees are tempted to keep working to be able to meet goals, to make up for the lost time, or to get higher pay.
How to be an effective flexible working parent?
Flexible working comes with challenges as well and sometimes you need to make some changes within yourself and your surroundings to work efficiently. Here are some tips to help with how you can overcome these challenges and help you to work efficiently.
Change your work perception
With flexible working arrangements, things are going to be a little different. And to prepare yourself to deal with these challenges, you need to change your mindset. This can mean that you need to be prepared to work on your own and meet goals even without the support of your colleagues or your boss in person.
Create a functional working space at home
Designating a room or an area where you can work undisturbed is necessary. This allows you to focus on work and complete tasks on time. To make your workspace functional, set up the area with the things you may need for your work. Aside from your work equipment like your laptop or desktop, camera, or a headset, you may also need a coffee maker, mug warmer, water bottle, or perhaps some healthy snacks.
Reach out for help
Working from home doesn’t mean that you have to work on your own. You need to reach out for any issues you encounter especially when it could affect your job functions. This involves issues with tools, systems, work equipment, or even poor connectivity.
Your employer needs to ensure that you have everything you need to perform your job efficiently. Raising these issues immediately can help to resolve them faster or work out temporary solutions such as goal adjustments or a different work assignment until the issues are resolved.
Maintain open communications
Even when you’re not required to, sending one simple message won’t hurt. Such as letting your boss know how many tasks you’ve completed or reporting your achievements for the day. Or maybe asking your co-workers how their day went. Although some employers schedule a daily meeting with all the staff working from home and some boss requires an end of day report, it’s not the same for other businesses who may not be familiar with it.
Flexible working has been tried and tested across the globe and in various industries. Parents and other individuals can work happier and healthier as companies provide flexible working arrangements. These arrangements and set up may be here for a while. It could also be the norm in the future encouraging more parents to work and become successful professionals in society.