We’ve been feeling a bit sweary this week at Digital Mums. Nearly every conversation in the office (or on Slack the ace digital tool that keeps our remote team in touch) has pretty much involved the F-Word. Unless you’ve been under a rock you may have spotted we’ve launched our Clean Up the F-Word campaign and your response has been nothing short of amazing. It seems we’ve hit a nerve, and the press have been listening. From Bristol to Belfast flexible working has been a hot topic.
Just as we thought, for many of you a lack of flex is causing plenty of heartache and a whole lot of expletives besides. Over 2,000 of you have already signed our petition to help Clean Up The F-Word and call on the government to change the definition of flexible working from ‘a way of working that suits an employee’s needs’ to ‘work that works for employees and businesses’. This is about getting the flexible working convo on the table at the highest level and getting everyone to sit up and listen. Businesses we’re looking at you.
We’re a pretty positive bunch at Digital Mums; we have a lot of neon in our lives so you would be, but we’ve been feeling a little glum at some of the inflexible stories we’ve heard from you in the last couple of weeks.
Take the lovely Steph Douglas from Don’t Buy Her Flowers describing a shocking tale on her blog of a friend who is ‘lucky’ enough to work four days a week but hasn’t been allowed to tell the rest of her team. Her boss is worried they might want a bit of flex too and who knows there might be a mutiny or something. So instead she is asked to lie to her team. Nice touch.
Then there are the lovely mums that have got in touch with us on social media to tell us their tales of woe. Think demotions, refused requests, mums too scared to even say the F-Word should their boss make a joke about them being a ‘skiver’ and more besides.
We also heard from Anna Whitehouse aka Mother Pukka explaining how she was cut out of the workforce for simply asking for 15 minutes at the beginning and end of her day to pick up her daughter, Mae. “It seems ridiculous that companies are so short sighted in their approach. It’s about getting more out of us, not less,” says Anna.
There were some positive-ish stories of mums working flexibly. Mums like Nadine. But even then there was a catch. It wasn’t exactly given with open arms. “My employer gave me flexibility but when negotiating it, it seemed like they were doing me such a favour! I also know that if I want to progress to manager's position I have to go back full-time.” So flex is fine, as long as you don’t mind leaving your ambition at the door. Great message. Flexible working does not have to mean zero career progression. Just look at Digital Mums, we have 100% flexibility and a lot of our heads of departments work remotely.
Simply having a good old whinge about something just isn’t our style at Digital Mums, though. We like to DO something about things. We want to make a change. Of course we have our ace social media marketing training, which is helping a whole lot of mums find awesome flexible roles they can do from home. But what about everyone else? We want to change the way we work in Britain forever. We want stories of inflexible bosses to become urban myths. Scary stories we tell the kids that keep them up at night (well actually we don’t want that, no-one wants that).
Speaking of kids, if you ever wondered what they make of this flexible working lark and why they love parents having it, check out these little cuties:
We are certain the flexolution is happening. We have some amazing supporters on board already from London’s Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, who says: "I hope this campaign will mean more businesses recognise the benefits, and dispel some of the myths, about flexible working practices – not only do they make a huge difference to employees’ quality of life, they also enable businesses to better tap into the best pool of talent."
And this isn’t just a mum thing. The brilliant millennial Emma Gannon author of Ctrl, Alt, Delete is on our team: “Millennials work differently - many twenty-somethings would gasp at the idea of working at a company for decades or indeed a very rigid 9-5. Technology is allowing us to experiment with our different, desired lifestyles and changing the culture around flexible working is a huge part of that.”
And, at the heart of it all are the thousands of mums that are supporting the F-Word cause. Mums like Gemma who just totally get it: “This for me is everything required to give mothers a flexible realistic working environment whilst giving business the very best from their employees. The Monday to Friday 9-5 is so antiquated. The concept should be dead and buried with shoulder pads and grey pinstripe suits!”
So what do we need you to do? Keep telling everyone about the petition, The more of us sign it, the more the government will listen AND the more flexible working there will be for everyone. Let’s clean up the F-Word. Flex is not a dirty word. It’s the future.
Help us to Clean Up The F-Word. Sign the petition here.