Today my family and I picked up the keys to our new rental property. And the relief is enormous. Since being given very short notice by our previous landlord only a few days before Christmas, we’ve effectively been homeless, moving to our local holiday park, to an Airbnb, and now thankfully into a new place we can call home.
And while our experience over the holidays is nothing compared to the families who lost everything during our devastating bushfire season, I feel compelled to acknowledge how life-changing workplace flexibility can be for people at times of personal upheaval and emotional stress.
As a leading advocate for workplace flexibility, it’s only natural that we at FlexCareers embrace an extremely progressive flexible working framework internally. And for co-founders, Joel McInnes and Marko Njavro, family always comes first.
When I first told them of my situation, they were there to support me every step of the way, with understanding and compassion.
Their understanding gave me the ability to focus on packing and moving – not once, but three times – and to give my kids some stability and normality without life turning into chaos.
Their understanding meant I could still be a parent and give my family everything they needed through an extremely tumultuous time. It was just huge. And that’s what every parent wants to be able to do. We work to raise healthy happy families and for me to have achieved this over the last few weeks, in spite of our precarious home situation, has been incredible.
But as importantly however, I was still focused on my work, in large part due to our online communication tools and results driven workplace environment. Through this whole experience, I’ve become clearer on just how important three core values are to ensure true flexibility success – transparency, honesty and trust.
Even though my colleagues knew what I was going through, I made sure I checked in regularly throughout the day. I was available on my mobile, checked my messages and emails and was still able to schedule Zoom meetings – but these had to be flexible. I also worked a lot in the evenings once the kids were in bed. And although this impacted my ability to be online at the same time as the rest of my team, I was appreciative of how everyone acknowledged my situation and adjusted their communications.
In previous roles, I would never have dared to be so honest about my personal situation and how this might impact my work. The emotional stress would have been enormous. Being honest with my current team regarding my personal challenges and knowing I wouldn’t be judged or have to deal with any negative career repercussions down the track was a breath of fresh air. Our management team shares a very honest and open communication style and I genuinely feel this is how we operate so successfully together.
Throughout this whole experience it’s become so clear to me that there are times when employers need to just inherently trust their employees. And I also think there are ways employees can establish and help build that trust every day. I knew I had to be accountable, transparent and good at communicating regularly. I also had to make sure I was delivering the work I was responsible for. When and how it happened wasn’t – and still isn’t – really important.
In short, trust underpins everything. If there’s trust, then flexibility works.
Flexible workplaces are essential for recognising we’re all human and for me that’s the ultimate goal of what we’re trying to achieve. Being in a senior position within an organisation and knowing I can be authentic and genuine in the workplace is for me a huge personal step forward. We all deserve a more human and balanced life, where work-life integration is encouraged and supported.
For parents, flexibility allows us to be present for our kids, no matter what life throws at us. And as mothers, I’m not sure we get to have it all, but to have the flexibility to be able to pick and choose those important family milestones, and enjoy a rewarding career at the same time, is just amazing.
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This article was first published on LinkedIn.