By Alice Gilbert, Head of Client Services at integrated B2B tech marketing agency, Fox Agency
Calling all professional working parents. We home-schooled for almost a year, we tackled socially distanced pick-ups and drop-offs, we ran to the rescue when bubbles burst and when it was our time to isolate, lord knows, we isolated. And before we knew it, along came the summer holidays… So, many of you may well be asking – when do we catch a break?
The events of the last 18 months demonstrated the enormous value of workplace flexibility and an employer who understands that no matter how hard you try to maintain ‘business as usual’, life just gets in the way. However, the rapidly increasing acceptance of flexible, remote, or hybrid working is allowing working parents to enjoy a healthier work-life balance, positioning quality time with family alongside delivering greatness within their role.
As Head of Client Services at an integrated B2B tech marketing agency, I want to bring my A-game to every occasion. So a four-day working week allows me to take the time I need to make sure family and home life are catered for, alongside directing my full attention to work during designated working hours. Fitting a week’s worth of work into four days can sometimes be challenging, especially with a diary full of back-to-back calls. This is where time management, prioritisation, working to deadlines, and setting aside time to focus on certain tasks and projects come into play. If there’s one thing working parents have mastered, it’s multitasking. And sometimes it’s necessary. But I find focusing on one thing at a time is a far more efficient and productive way of working than taking a scattergun approach to tackling multiple tasks simultaneously.
And it’s not just how you work, but where you work that can influence your work-life balance. The hybrid working model at Fox Agency offers ideal flexibility, allowing the team to work remotely or from the office as they see fit. Working from home means no school run versus commute clashes, and a lunch break is a perfect opportunity to walk the dog (should you have a dog, that is!). On the flip side, the option to join colleagues in the office to collaborate and work creatively is hugely valuable too. Agency life means every day is different and human nature, in the words of Franz Kafka, is ‘essentially changeable, and unstable as the dust’. So really, it’s no wonder that the option to swap and change the way we work depending on our circumstances, or even the weather, is an enormous breath of fresh air and a boost to workplace wellbeing.
Communication is key and that can’t be stressed enough. Whether it’s having that initial discussion with your employer to explore a flexible working option or speaking honestly with your colleagues about getting additional support in certain instances, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Being open with your team will help you create stronger bonds and relationships; chances are your co-workers are experiencing the exact same stresses as you and will be able to relate and understand. So, one day you need to log off a little early to take your child to the dentist, and another day a colleague might need to start later following a veterinary appointment. Communicating these needs with your team means people can adapt accordingly and still deliver on project commitments in line with client expectations.
Make working work for you
As schools return after the summer holidays and we regain some semblance of normality in the world, this doesn’t mean that you have to return to the rigidity of a Monday to Friday, nine to five regime. Unless you want to, of course. The pandemic has proved that flexible working works, deadlines are met, clients are content, and above all, employees are happy.
Find a work-life balance that works for you and an employer who can accommodate this, with the understanding that your brilliance comes with some boundaries, and that’s ok.