Returning to work. It's a phrase that families are all too familiar with as they surface from the aftermath of having a newborn. Conversations between parents lead to murky decisions which are made with their finances in mind or fear of losing their job. Can we afford it? Will our preferred daycare fit our schedule? Will both parents working full time affect our family?
We need to say goodbye to the 9 to five and focus on flexible work for our families. A few weeks ago, my news feed was inundated with articles stating that "Stay at home mothers were a drain on our economy" and instead of trying to understand the real issues, people jumped on the bully bandwagon to ridicule families and mothers. Why is there such a struggle to find a work/life balance for families? Technology and global resources in 2017 should mean that work is something that you do- and not a place you have to go. Businesses are refusing to explore alternative options, leaving qualified Australians without work or within positions they are overqualified for.
Currently in Australia, we have the freedom to ask for flexible working arrangements if you are a parent or carer, however, this is only if you have been with the same employer for at least 12 months. Examples of flexible working arrangements include asking for different hours of work, patterns of work (e.g. shift work/job sharing) and locations of work (e.g. working from home) but still we see a rise in qualified mothers and fathers opting to stay at home because their workplaces aren't coming to the table.
CEB works with businesses in order to provide them with an insight into why an employee may exit their company. Through surveys and statistics, CEB results indicate that Australians would prefer a work/life balance as opposed to a pay rise. Flexible working hours and location are becoming the forerunners of what drives employees to stay with a business- So why aren't businesses listening?
Douglas Coupland has provided a beautiful argument in a recent article in The Guardian in regards to the workplace shift towards promoting flexible work. He believes that with cloud-based technologies and ever-faster download speeds, the office life will become obsolete. He points out that companies such as Facebook allow their employees to work from home on Wednesdays and "In the future, every day of the week is going to be a Wednesday. There will be no more weekends, it'll be one smooth flow".
Douglas's forward way of thinking believes in the evolution of the workplace and states "The nine to five is barbaric. I really believe that. I think one day we will look back at nine-to-five employment in a similar way to how we see child labour in the 19th century. The future will not have a nine till five. Instead, the whole day will be interspersed wth other parts of your life. Scheduling will become freeform"
Flexible work needs to be addressed between businesses and families and flexible work conditions should be a guarantee, not a dream. Imagine a life where we could design a work schedule and work from locations that suit our families and also suit our businesses. This shouldn't be a fairy tale, this should be our reality.
Stay tuned for A Cold Cup of Chloe's next blog which will provide a list of companies that implement a flexible working lifestyle and remote working locations.