Career flexibility will soon be the future of work, and in a 2017 working environment it’s set to be one of the enablers of true gender equality .
Whilst primary care giving continues to primarily still fall to the responsibility of women, flexibility affords women, and men, the ability to focus on growing their careers whilst meeting their parental responsibilities or other life pursuits.
Time and time again, report after report, the number one thing to keep people in the same job is career flexibility.
So if the leadership know this then why is it such a challenge to implement flexibility?
One of the issues comes down to perception.
As a collective, we see work in so many lenses. And flexibility is something that challenges the way we do things, the way we work.
This is not necessarily a bad thing however it is confronting and it is change.
So how do we overcome this?
A good place to start is by understanding the various forms of flexibility that are available and taking a step-by-step approach.
It doesn’t automatically mean part-time, but it may for you.
It can be condensed work weeks, for instance working five days a fortnight, working from home, flexible start and finish times, and the list goes on.
In my career I have often asked for flexibility. I enjoy working from home as I have the opportunity to get clear stretches of time to get work done not have as many meetings.
When negotiating flexibility I suggested to my employer trialling one day a week over a three-month period to see how it goes.
Needless to say it worked and I soon moved it to two days week after that.
But if I needed to travel or be in the office I did – flexibility is a two way street.
Technology – having great technology at our fingertips means being accessible is easy.
Whether it is phone, Slack, email, Skype or any other type of communication channel.
Furthermore remote access means it is just like being at your desk. Virtual meetings – these need to be had, but run well.
Using video is a must as well as ensuring the one’s that are dialling in have as much air-time as those physically present.
There are so many great collaborative cloud based tools that allow people to contribute to group work at any time from anywhere such as Google, DropBox, Asana and Basecamp – take your pick.
In short it is about providing evidence to employers that it can be done.
Considering we have been working the way we have for a very long time, change can be slow.
By implementing a step-by- step process to enable flexibility and manage change is essential to gain buy in from your leader and company.
Hard evidence of your productivity and results whilst working flexibility is the language that most powerful to shift these perceptions.