The question is when do flexible working arrangements, in particular, for parents, cease to be essential?
Well, as a parent to 3 adults and seemingly out the other side of child-rearing, let me give you my perspective.
As my children entered high school, I was incredibly privileged to work for a global multinational company, who encouraged work-from-home arrangements. This set up was advantageous to the company, as many of us worked round the clock to talk to our counterparts on the other side of the world; and of course, it saved on office rental costs!
Working from home during those high school years was invaluable. Whilst often on the phone and/or on the laptop, I was still AT HOME. I could quickly check the kid’s moods, issues and simply chat to them as they came in the door. I was a constant presence, which is so important during these teenage years.
As a result, I weathered the ups, downs, and traumas of teenage years closely with my children and not as a distant observer. These years were precious and not once did I wish I was in an office working regular hours away from the home to escape moody teenagers!
As my kids entered uni and the workforce, I continued to work remotely or took part-time contract work that allowed me to balance my working life. As adulthood approached, I once again wanted to spend time with my family, and yes again, I knew these years were precious.
Spending time during the week with my adult kids, either in their uni holidays, between lectures or during work lunch breaks has enabled me to build solid relationships with each of them – separately and together. My flexible arrangements over recent years have also allowed me to do volunteer mentoring and career transition work, gaining more than what may have been possible elsewhere.
Have I made career sacrifices to have all this? Yes, I have. I have put flexible working arrangements above work promotions, overseas postings, regular income, steady Super contributions and many other “so-called” advantages of non-flexible roles. I knew what I was worth.
But what I look back on is a truly balanced work career that has allowed me to be part of my children lives – I would not trade any of it, not for one minute.
So when does the premise for flexible work stop? In my opinion, NEVER. Flexible working needs to be in place from the inception of a career to the end of your working days. Your children, your mental wellbeing and your employer depend on it.
Pam-Dell is a founding member of the FlexCoach panel of career and executive coaches. She has been on a 30-year journey that encompassed a constant juggle between corporate life and raising 3 children. Her background covers HR, Business, IT, Mentoring, Career coaching, Outplacement consulting, Learning and Development. She coaches people every day to help them be better at what they do, land their dream role, crystalise their goals and achieve their potential. Her passion is seeing people gain confidence to do what they were meant to do (and more!)
You can connect with Pam through her FlexCoach profile here