I'm changing the world of flexible working - and you can get involved
Published : 07 May 2016, 14:22
The future of work needs to change - we all know that. In spite of the huge advances made in the legislation and culture that embrace our workplaces, there is still a lot more to be done to ensure our experience of work is as flexible and inclusive as it can possibly be.
Research conducted last year by flexible working experts Timewise and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that over 14 million workers – nearly half of people in employment in the UK - want to work flexibly to fit with modern life. That’s an incredible statistic - and there's no better time to talk about it than today; Flexible Working Awareness Day.
Through my work running networking organisation Cityparents, I’ve met so many talented people – particularly women, and mothers – who feel excluded from the workforce due to their need for a really deep level of flexibility.
It’s very frustrating when you come across women with significant skills and great professional potential, who aren’t able to use their experience in the workplace because the time they have available doesn’t fit with what’s typically on offer in the jobs market.
For many parents and carers, who want to integrate work with their home responsibilities, a traditional ‘part-time’ job is still too restrictive. But until now, there has been no mechanism for individuals to share their time and talent with the business community.
While approaching a recruitment consultant or searching for vacancies online are methods still used by many job-seekers to find conventional full-time work, it’s much harder in the part-time world.
That’s why, this month, I launched a new initiative, www.usemyskills.com, that aims to transform the fixed schedules we’re used to working on, by providing a platform for individuals to share their professional skills and the time they have available to work.
In spite of the rise in dedicated flexible working job sites, searching for a role that is a direct match for your availability is a real challenge. And if the hours you can spare don’t fall evenly over the course of a day, week, or year (for example, if you want to work during school term-time only), that hurdle to finding the perfect job can simply be too high to jump.
Sarah, mum to Sam, aged six, and Emily, four, took a career break from the City two years ago to focus on home life. But with her children now settled at school, she has time to spare - roughly five hours a day, three days a week in term-time.
Sarah, 32, wants to use her professional experience to earn an income in the hours she has available – while still being there for her children when school finishes each day.
“I spent 10 years working in the City building up a good CV as an events manager”, she says. “Now I have some time to spare I’d love to work again, but the flexibility is critical - work needs to fit into my schedule as otherwise, the cost of childcare means it’s not worth me working. I have looked for part–time work but I couldn’t find anything that both suited my hours and matched the skills I have.”
So it is that many workers in the UK find themselves excluded from the traditional workforce because their availability and time doesn’t fit that required by advertised roles. Thus their professional skills and expertise aren’t utilised, their potential unfulfilled, and the business community loses out on this incredible talent pool – because it doesn’t know how to reach it.
Offering a platform on which these flexible job-seekers can advertise their professional skills and time available to work, provides this opportunity. And it also creates an opportunity for employers – to access an amazing resource and enjoy the benefits of an agile workforce.
Research from the Agile Future Forum (AFF), created in 2013 to champion flexible working in the business community, has shown that employers could generate more than 10 per cent in workforce cost savings if they use more flexible working practices
I hope Use My Skills (which is open to everyone and free to join) will change this for everyone. We believe strongly that work and family life shouldn't be an 'either/or' choice, and that people with professional backgrounds and skills, who want to integrate work into their home lives, should be able to do so.
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