Angela Jukes (Group Talent Acquisition Consultant at Cambridge Assessment) is talking about why is she an advocate for flexible working.
The world in which we work is changing rapidly. Large-scale globalisation, shifting demographics, technological advances and 21st century societal values are redefining the workplace as we know it.
Whether it's varying where we physically do our work, challenging the traditional 9-5 office hours, or having a good work-life balance in today’s ‘always on’ business culture, these fundamental shifts are driving both employers and employees to a more flexible way of working.
Being flexible about flexibility
A recent poll revealed 87% of respondents currently work flexibly or would like to do so. Another survey reported that 6 in 10 said they would be more productive if they could work flexibly, and over two thirds said they would be more loyal to a business.
For employers, the benefits are compelling. Organisations who introduce flexible working can achieve tangible improvements to recruitment and staff retention, as well as boosts in morale and efficiency.
Employees with 26 weeks’ service have a statutory right to request flexible working and employers are under a legal duty to reasonably consider that request.
The new norm
Here at Cambridge Assessment we have a ‘Just Ask’ policy when it comes to flexible working requests. As an international organisation, our teams are spread across the world, meaning that we may only ever collaborate with some colleagues in a virtual environment – it’s the norm.
Skype calls, online meetings and telephone interviews are commonplace here and it’s not unusual to work from home. Yes, we are results-oriented but it’s not about the number of hours you put in or how visible you are, it’s about outcomes.
We have a well-established culture of trust and respect, which is key to the success of our flexible workforce and the performance of our organisation as a whole.
Open to all
There are many forms of flexible working in practice at Cambridge Assessment. The most familiar being flexible start/finish times and term-time only or part-time working. Flexible working can also mean homeworking, compressed hours and job shares.
Staff at all levels, ages, genders, and with or without dependents work flexibly here - including senior directors - challenging the misconception that flexible working is for the few, not the many, or only for women with children.
We encourage anyone applying for a role at Cambridge Assessment to talk to us about how they’d like to work – we offer to match your current flexible working arrangements where this can be accommodated and commit to long-term career support as your situation and requirements change.
Giving something back
For Angela Jukes, Group Talent Acquisition Consultant at Cambridge Assessment, her flexible working pattern means she spends one morning a week painting, reading and playing games with pre-school children: “I call them my ‘special Thursdays!’” she said.
“One morning a week, during term time, I volunteer at a play group which brings a different layer to my life. I work slightly longer days three times a week and that suits me. The opportunity to volunteer gives me a sense of giving something back and I bring that positivity and creativity back into the office with me.”
Angela has also seen this pro-flexible working ethos in action across other areas of the business: “A few other cases come to mind when I think about positive flexible working examples at Cambridge Assessment.
“We have a job share partnership in HR which has been thriving for six years - both team members are able to manage their home commitments as well as continuing their career development. The job share ensures continuity for the business area they support and a great mix of skills and knowledge has been retained by the organisation.
Another, more recent, request for a temporary working arrangement helped a member of staff when childcare became complicated for a short time. He currently cares for his son on a Wednesday morning and switches with his wife half-way through the day. His managers were supportive of his request for flexibility and it was readily accepted.”
Thinking of working flexibly?
Angela gives her top four tips on flexible working requests:
- Do your research - some companies are more innovative in their flexible working policy and may have already trialled different forms of flexible working. Talk to other people who are already working flexibly and ask them about their experiences and tips.
- If you’re applying for a new job, be open at the application stage in terms of your requirements. It’s a good idea to contact the HR department before you apply to have an informal conversation about your request.
- If you are looking to amend your working hours in a current role, try to pre-empt any concerns your manager may have and suggest ways that you could address them. Your request is also more likely to be successful if you show how working flexibly could be beneficial for the organisation.
- Be flexible yourself – is there a compromise you would accept if you are not offered exactly what you wanted? Be prepared to negotiate and consider a trial period or temporary arrangement to demonstrate how the new proposal would work in practice.
The working world is being transformed by advances in technology and attitudes to work, enabling the development of an agile workforce and a ‘fit for the future’ culture. Are you ready to flex?