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Working flexibly in the IPO

Category: testimonial, Work-Life Balance, Flexible Working, Flexible, Work Life Balance, Working from Home, Carer, Parents and Carers Together, What Our People Say, Staff Testimonial, home working, Work from Home, Intellectual Property Office, carers forum, flexibility, carer for children, intellectual property, carers network, home work

Flexible Working

Work Life Week

National Work Life week is an annual campaign that seeks to get our managers and people talking about wellbeing at work and work-life fit.

Covid has challenged us all to work in different ways, and we know many of our people are feeling the effects of being home alone, caring for children, caring for loved ones and a whole host of other scenarios.

Making the IPO a Brilliant Place to Work includes supporting our people to be the best they can be, at times in their life where it might be challenging to find a work-life dynamic.

Mike Fletcher and Sandra Madden talk about how working flexibly in the IPO has helped them:

Michael Fletcher

I have worked in the Employee Insight Unit in HR for many years having joined the IPO in 1998.

However, I now only work three days a week since I partially retired in August this year. I attended a course just before lockdown and was amazed what benefits partial retirement offered for both the IPO and my own circumstances.

Basically, partial retirement means that I get my usual salary for three days a week plus I get the pension I have built up over the last 30+ years. This amounts to a very similar amount to my full-time salary and my pension fund is growing further from the three days that I work.

The benefits to the IPO are that they retain my experience and knowledge that I have built up over the years. I know where a lot of information is stored and deal with returns to BEIS, ONS and Cabinet Office whilst the Office has been able to bring in a talented team to develop dashboards and take the function to the next level (although I like to have some involvement in that too).

My wife and I had twin boys quite late in life who we absolutely adore but are tiring to say the least! They are now nearly seven and taking partial retirement means that I can juggle childcare with work as my wife works differing shift patterns.

Michael Fletcher and his family on holiday

I usually work Monday to Wednesday although as you would expect at the IPO, I am allowed flexibility to change those days if needed and I am also flexible in that I will adjust the days to accommodate business requirements. It works well.

My line manager has been very good in reshaping my job so that I do not try and do five days work in three days which was a worry to begin with.

I have been asked what I do with my extra free time. Well so far, I have decorated the kitchen (almost) and have a long list of jobs waiting. I am also learning WordPress and own two internet domains that will eventually become blogs about life with twins and the joys of turning sixty.

Finally – I have always wanted to have fish and chips overlooking the sea in my own campervan. The lump sum that I received from partial retirement has allowed that life goal to be ticked!

Michael Fletcher's children looking out of camper van

Sandra Madden

I have been mum’s main carer since dad died in 2016. Things hadn’t been quite right for some time so once we’d got through our first Christmas without dad I took mum to the doctors. Mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimers disease in 2017.

My career is very important to me. I appreciate the support and flexibility offered by the office, which allows me to combine work with being a carer. I have worked with a coach to help me focus and improve my effectiveness and have had help from staff networks and the staff counsellor when needed. Caring is unpredictable, with coronavirus and an ongoing police investigation involving mum thrown in, I have taken carers leave.

As my line manager changed recently I thought it was a good time to fill out the carers passport. I’m sure it will help us find our best way of working and make the unpredictable more predictable. 

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Intellectual Property Office

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