Flexible working, can it work?

Now in its tenth year of running events, dawn welcomed a topic which has been top of the agenda for a while, flexible working. As part of dawn’s series to help ‘supercharge your career in 2019’, this event focused on the culture of work and flexible working in all its guises.

The panel of speakers was from varied backgrounds, ages and professions and gave a real insight into how to navigate your working lives and where flexibility can sit.

Siobhan Brunwin — Head of People and Culture MSix

Kelly Jacobson Smith– Product Compliance Director, Unruly and Co-founder of dawn

Helena Wilton — Account Director, will it make the boat go faster

Eliot Howells, Education Technologist Microsoft

The panel started by talking about the legalities of the workplace and how the culture of work in the UK means we are not set up to work flexibly. Our culture is littered with phrases and eye rolls which can make it difficult for all of us to work the less traditional 9–5 hours.

Some of the panellists then went on to share their work journey, how they discovered what made them tick as people and how this enabled them to apply it to their professional lives by seeking out ways to work flexibly.

Here are the key takeouts of the event:

Take time to think if flexible working would work for you and why.

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Would working from home benefit you and your company as you have a long commute? Are you more introverted in nature or work on thought pieces that needs quiet time out of the office. Do you have a passion project or are you juggling parenthood and work. Taking the time to note how you work, what are your pain points so to speak and what is it you truly thrive on will help give a picture of if flexible working is right for you.

What is the working culture at your place of work?

Does anyone senior work flexibly? If not why not? Investigate and ask around. Hear what has gone before and figure out the pressure points you can address. Be aware that it takes time for companies to understand the process and implement it. Be patient, you may have to work on your proposal and show it to various stakeholders in the business for it to land and be prepared to offer to trial it and have check in’s along the way.

Working flexibly is a two-way process

Understanding your teams’ rhythms and your clients day to day is essential. Do they like to do calls on a Friday or face to face at midday. Try to think of ways to work and support at these key times and how you add value at other times. Second, how does your team feel about you working flexibly? Do they feel empowered to do the same? Do they feel it is fair? Whatever the goal, involving your team and caring about your output shows commitment.

How do I ask for flexible working?

Have a plan b. Make sure when you speak to your manager that you can adapt so it is seen as a compromise from both parties. Could it be a 5 day week with a day at home, could you flex your hours and do later/earlier hours. Show your managers how you are setting yourself up for success, share how you will increase your productivity. Think of flexible working as a salary negotiation, explore what else is out there in your industry, speak to others in your network and gain insight. Lastly, don’t be afraid. If they say no, there are options.

What form can flexible working take?

Do you do condensed hours in a week, work from home a day or do you teach yoga at lunchtimes? There are many ways flexible working can take if you are measured on output rather than being seen. Try and articulate the benefits that will help you as an individual, as a team and ultimately will help the business as a whole. There isn’t one size fits all, it is a test and learn approach.


This article was written by Nikki Wilkinson. Find the original article here >

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