MAKING FLEXIBILITY WORK IS CHILDSPLAY

July 25, 2016 3:12 pm | Thought provoking blogs |

 

Cartoon - work and family balance

While the heatwave may have got the school holidays off to a great start for children up and down the country, for their parents – and their parents’ employers – the sunshine does little to assuage concerns about how they will juggle work and childcare for the next six weeks.

As a construction PR agency staffed entirely by women, we have followed the diversity in construction agenda very closely. Women make up just 11 per cent of employees in the sector and only one per cent of those employed on site; when viewed in the context of managing childcare over the long summer break, it’s easy to see why this situation persists.

Cartoon - all I said was school holidays

The problem lies not just with the cost of childcare – which is considerable – but with the availability of childcare too; particularly as there are variations in school holiday dates from local authority to local authority and even from school to school. Often, parents are forced to use their annual leave individually to cover their childcare requirements over the summer and for single parents, the dilemmas are even worse.

All of this also puts employers under pressure. Parents on the team all need to take their leave when the schools are on holiday, but from a management perspective, a business needs to be fully resourced.

So what’s the best way to address the issue?

First of all, like all areas of business best practice, managing childcare and leave over the summer requires planning from both an employer and an employee perspective. It’s the employee’s responsibility to know the holiday dates, research childcare provision and book annual leave well in advance. Meanwhile, the employer needs to plan ahead to ensure that work is progressed ahead of time and holiday cover is organised, so that the business is never exposed to unfulfilled deadlines or unanswered queries.

Secondly, every successful business requires an element of compromise and flexibility. We have thrived on a flexible approach to resourcing the company for several years with all our team combining home and office working. We use technology including Skype, Dropbox and remote server access to enable the team to work from wherever they are and balance work and other commitments with flexible hours so that our clients be confident that we will continue to deliver results consistently, regardless of the time of year.

It may not work for all businesses but it’s proved part of a successful retention strategy for Clare PR. The weather may not last this summer, but our commitment to ensuring childcare concerns don’t get in the way of a job well done is here to stay.

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