Why flexibility is important for all of us
The flexible working revolution is here to stay. Nicola Pierce, a flexible working consultant at Ignite, reminds us why it’s so much more than working mothers.
I feel like I just need to get rid of this misconception that flexibility is only for women and mothers.
Yes, flexibility is important for women. It’s important if we want to close the gender pay gap and eliminate gender inequality. Lack of flexibility is cited as the biggest reason for women’s careers stalling or going backwards when they have children.
But giving women more flexibility is only part of the solution. We need to normalise flexible working for all – because when it is just as normal for a male Director to work part-time as it is for a female Director, that’s when things will have truly changed and when we’ll find more equality – at work and at home.
Back to my point though – flexibility is important for all of us, regardless of your gender.
Here’s some interesting facts for you:
- 19% of the working population are disabled
- 15% of people in the UK are neurodivergent
- 69% of people over 50 are in employment
- 3 in 5 people will be carers at some point in their lives
That is a lot of people who, over the course of their career are likely to need some form of flexibility, whether that’s in hours, location or the type of work they are doing. And it’s a lot of people who, without flexibility, are being excluded from the workforce.
Imagine how many of those are bright, capable, talented and experienced people and what they could add to your organisation if only they didn’t have to conform to the standard ways of working.
And that’s just looking at those with additional needs or circumstances that dictate the need for more flexibility.
What about those people who don’t NEED flexibility but WANT flexibility – people who have hobbies, pets, enjoy sports, are artists or singers or performers outside of what they do in the workplace.
So what if Jennifer wants to leave at 3.30pm on a Wednesday to do her yoga session if she’s going to achieve what she needs to?
So what if Michael needs to do his mother’s shopping with her on a Friday morning before he starts work?
We all have things we enjoy doing outside of work. We all have a life that doesn’t have to revolve around working. And when you have an employer that supports that, you will give more – because flexibility is a two way street. Studies have shown time and again that people who are happy at work are more productive and more efficient. Why wouldn’t you try to make your people happier in work by allowing them to be their whole selves.
And that’s why flexibility is important for all of us.
Nicola is a Flexible Working Consultant at Ignite, helping organisations to make flex work for their business and their people.
A global Head of HR, she has changed cultures, led organisational transformation and helped to create engaging places to work.
Based on her experience and #flexworks research she has developed The Flex Framework which enables you to know exactly what, when and how you can make the changes you need to create a great place to work.