Dads need flexible working too!
Did you know we welcome Dads onto our courses? So, we thought it was about time we talked to some dads about their take on flexible working and why it is important for everyone.
Read our latest guest blog from the super Career Dad…
Let’s bust a common misconception: flexible working isn’t just working from home. That’s thinking about it the wrong way around. Try to think about flexible working as a pizza (any pizza is fine, just not Hawaiian. Never Hawaiian). Now cut that pizza into slices: one of those slices is working from home. Another is compressed hours. Another is job sharing. One slice could be flexi-time. One core hours. Working from home is just one slice of the flexible working pizza pie.
As we’re on the theme of busting misconceptions, let’s break down another one: flexible working isn’t just for parents. Gone (or going, at least) are the days of your boss needing an ‘excuse’ to work from home. I mean, how often can your dishwasher break down anyway? For the most part, the benefit is mutually understood for the employee and the company.
This understanding has helped remove the assumption that flexible working is only for stressed-out parents. You might have family members or friends that you care for. Maybe you have a dog that needs regular walks. Or, you might want to hit the gym when it’s quiet. Or maybe you’re much more productive early in the morning. Whatever it may be, flexible working is helping us to achieve greater balance.
Whilst not seen as exclusively for parents anymore, let’s not discount what flexible working does for parents. Take me, for example. I live in Northampton and work a couple of days from Northampton, a couple from London, and a day from home. When I’m in London I’m out of the house by 6.30am, and home usually just in time for my kids’ bedtime. It’s not great from a ‘dad’ perspective. So when I’m in Northampton I hang around until the kids go to school, then I leave for work. I get to the office about 9.20am. This is my balance, and it’s pretty easy to manage: I let my boss and teams know where I am; and when it’s in my control, I don’t book meetings before 9.30am.
Aside from the autonomy and sense of worth, flexible working helped me to address something I was really struggling with: Dad Guilt. You see, dads have this cycle that I like to think of as a roundabout. We have an innate drive to provide for their family, which usually equates to financial stability… so we work hard. As we progress, our jobs mean we don’t get to spend as much time with family. We then feel pressure as we’re not as present with our family, but the reason is because we’re providing (financially). Guilt sets in, and we feel torn between playing two roles of equal importance: a dad who provides, and a dad who is present.
Guys – sound familiar? That was my life, and speaking to hundreds of dads it was theirs, too. That’s what drove me to start Career Dad: I wanted to help dads and dads-to-be realise there was an alternative way (or if nothing else, vent their frustrations and concerns in a safe environment).
I started Career Dad for guys who are passionate about their career, but not at the expense of family. I just want to help people understand these aren’t binary decisions – it’s possible to have both.
Without the ability to utilise flexible working I know I wouldn’t be in as good a space mentally. Because I wasn’t. That’s why I’m so passionate about connecting dads and sharing stories in an attempt to normalise the flexible working dad who is both focused on his career, but not at the expense of their family.
Oh, and one last thing: if we want true gender parity in the workplace, dads need to be encouraged to work flexibly. To take enhanced paternity leave. Or shared parental leave. The policies are there, but the uptake is low – at the last count, only 2% of eligible dads took shared parental leave. If dads are not equipped to be primary caregivers or at least equal caregivers, to their kids… who will be? Mum, that’s who.
This just adds to the argument that – I can’t believe needs to be said out loud – dads need to be brought on the journey and supported in the workspace. They want to balance their family priorities with work, too. Because both are important, right?