This week I’ve had the honour of accompanying two business owners to celebrate their flexible working businesses at the Mum and Working Awards. Both started, and run their businesses, around their young families. They both created a flexible working business case for them to work through with their husbands before taking the step of setting up by themselves.
The awards were and inspiring couple of hours, with many of the judges sharing their own flexible working decisions with us. It wasn’t all about business owners either. Julie Baker, Head of Financial Inclusion and Enterprise at Nat West, shared her story of how she created not only a flexible working business case for herself and family when she wanted to carry on working and developing her career. She also came up with an idea for a friend of hers who was working nights, whilst her husband worked days so they could manage looking after their own child. Julie created the flexible working business case for this lady to become a child minder, look after her own child as well as Julies, and create a more family friendly home life for her family.
We heard from more than one woman who’d been working in businesses which wouldn’t, (or couldn’t?) consider flexible working. So they set up their own businesses, to find the right flexible working environment for themselves and their families. It felt very much, “I can’t get what I’m wanting here, so I’m going to create it myself”.
As I write this, on International Women’s Day, with the slogan, PRESS FOR PROGRESS, it feels like we shouldn’t have to write a flexible working business case, but it should be a core value in our society. Every business, large and small, should understand that working flexibly ensures skills and talents remain in the business and economy as a whole. Even though some jobs or roles may be difficult to organise flexibly, there’s no reason not to believe that flexible working is important to our economy.
Your business may also need more flexibility to respond to fluctuations in customer demand. So looking at your flexible working plans, and how things can work best for your business, using a flexible work force, should be part of your business review process.
Creating a flexible working business case
Whether it is for yourself, or your business, creating a business case for flexible working will help you see the opportunities and challenges.
Things to consider in the business case:
- What do you mean by flexible working
- How many hours are the minimum required for the job to be done well
- Where does the work need to be done
- How can each team member remain part of a team whilst working flexibly around each individuals needs
- What are the core functions and hours of the business and how will they be staffed
- Can technology help flexible working in the business
- Is training needed for team around how flexible working will benefit them and work in practice
- How will communication need to change for flexible working to be effective
It’s not necessarily about reduced hours, or working at different times of the day. It’s an opportunity to look at your business processes and identify what has to happen, and then work out the how & who will make it happen.
For yourself, if you’re creating a business case for your employer, or partner, think about the end result you want. Is it about continuing to do fulfilling work, but reducing your hours. Or is it about putting children, or caring responsibilities first?
Both Emma, from bras4mums, and Zoe from Bournemouth Bra Lady created a flexible working business case for themselves, and have created their businesses around their families. They were both finalists of Self Employed Parent of the Year, showing just how much that planning has helped them create the flexible business they want.
If that’s what you want, you can do it to. If you need help seeing all the options, personally, or for your business, book a call with Tracey-Jane & let’s explore together.
Thanks for your post T-J! Flexible working can be hard work as you juggle all the balls, but for me, it was the best decision to become self employed. I love supporting women through bras4mums but also I am very lucky to be able to go to school assemblies, sports days, plays and extra curricula activities as I run my business around my family.
Sounds like you’ve really got everything you want from your flexible working business. Well done Emma. So proud of all you’ve achieved so far 🙂 x
I have flexible working and love it but I know from going into organisations that tracking it can be a real pain for employers…any ideas on how to handle that obstacle?
Hi Anne. Yes that’s tricky. I use a time tracker for work with clients which can be used for all flexible working. You can do this manually too, by recording the work done in each half/hour slot of your working day. I simply note the outline of the work I’ve done. Too much detail and you’ll have no time to actually do the work!
If your place of work is at home, then travel to your work meetings is part of your working day, so you’ll need to record that.
Would that work for you and the organisations you work with?