Our #WorkThatWorks Movement calls on businesses and individuals everywhere to show their support for flexible working. A societal change needs to take place to embrace flexible working as a ‘normal’ and accepted way of working. Our vision is to support every mum to achieve their perfect work/life balance and we believe better flexible working is the only way to do that. And we know both from our own personal experience at Digital Mums HQ and from academic studies that #WorkThatWorks has a positive effect on businesses and the economy.
#WorkThatWorks is part of our DNA - it’s how we run our organisation and has been the most crucial part of how we’ve grown from a team of 4 to 32 in two years. Ultimately #WorkThatWorks is an absolute win for the way our business runs and for everyone that works with us. This is our manifesto - our blueprint for our version of #WorkThatWorks.
Technology changes everything
In today’s digital world with its connective technologies, it’s scandalous that women have to choose between a rewarding career and motherhood. #WorkThatWorks wasn’t possible 30, 20, even 10 years ago. But it is now. The digital revolution has changed the way we communicate with each other. We are constantly connected 24/7 wherever we are.
This shift has irrevocably changed our society and our culture. But it hasn’t quite trickled down to our working culture in the same way. Tech has made #WorkThatWorks a reality – with platforms like Slack and Trello, which allow you to communicate internally and manage your workflow easily and efficiently, you simply don’t need to be in the same room as your team all of the time to work productively together.
Work is a thing you do not a place you go
We totally get that not every company can work as remotely as we do. But in many organisations, telling people they need to sit in a certain place every day to do a job just doesn’t make sense. Right now one of our team is working from South America as she is on a family sabbatical there. Extreme, granted, but if it wasn’t for the shots of whales she pops into Slack we doubt we’d notice she was on another continent. Others are based all over the UK and the result is we feel we always find the right person for the right job. Not just the right person that happens to live within a commute to the office. As a business it makes so much sense - we’ve had the pick of a much larger talent pool.
No more coat on the back of the chair culture
Presenteeism just for the sake of it brings us out in hives here at Digital Mums. When we talk to businesses though, one of the most common rebuttals to #WorkThatWorks is “but how do you know people are working?” There’s no doubt that trust is an important factor when your team work remotely, but that right there is why we spend a long time recruiting the right people. But even more important than trust or checking how many hours someone is sitting at a desk is an ability to measure them against outputs and results (just ask the Swedes).
If someone is not delivering at work you should know about it, whether they’re at their desk or working from home. If you don't trust your employees not to skive off the minute your back is turned then you have a much bigger problem than a lack of flexible options. You have an entire workforce that aren't committed or passionate about what you do.
Part time hours, not part-time attitudes
Whether you work five hours a week at Digital Mums or full times hours, every single one of our team is equally important. The idea that because you ‘only’ work part time hours you’re lower in the pecking order is totally ridiculous. In fact it borders on offensive. But this is the reality in a lot of businesses. Part-time workers are treated a bit like second-class citizens, when actually a lot of the time they might even be more productive than their full-time colleagues. But that goes back to those businesses not knowing how to accurately measure outputs.
Just because someone chooses to fit work in around other commitments, it doesn’t mean they care any less about the work they are actually doing.
We have to go Beyond the 9 to 5
Inflexible, office-based work can be uninspiring and constraining for anyone. For mums, it’s bigger than that. According to the EHRC, 54,000 women every year are forced out of their jobs because of being pregnant and that’s before we think about all those that have compromised their skills to get flexible or part time jobs. This just isn’t fair. A disproportionate number of women hit a ceiling when they have kids. Lower-skilled jobs are taken, career progression is halted and a lack of diversity is the result. If we genuinely want to be a fair and equal society, and want to avoid stigmatising an entire demographic, embracing #WorkThatWorks is the only way forward.
Flexible chat breeds flexible lives
We’re always very open to discussing the best way to work each role in our organisation. It’s a work in progress. Some jobs need more time in the office around a team and others are totally suited to being completely remote. With #WorkThatWorks it’s about always being open to those conversations and seeing what works best for everyone in the team. #WorkThatWorks is about treating everyone in the team as an individual with different needs, not just an employee fitting a job description. And this should be an ongoing conversation. This is especially relevant for mums - when you have a toddler you might need a completely different work pattern to when your kids get to school age. And that’s OK, it’s about keeping #WorkThatWorks at the centre of the team and adapting around that.
Flexible working is FANTASTIC working
Asking for flexible working does NOT mean a lack of commitment. We have the most passionate and committed team in the world. We’re all absolutely united by the same desire to achieve our vision of helping more mums to find their perfect work/life balance. The fact is we don’t particularly care what time the work is done, as long as it’s done by the deadline given. Our team take their own initiative as to when they do their work and communicate that with us then they are happier for it. Anyone would think they were responsible adults in charge of other small people’s lives in some cases.
A happy team is a successful one
And when a team is happy, a team is successful. This has been proven time and time again. Flexibility improves work / life balance. A better work / life balance makes us feel happier. A recent six month study from MIT Sloan School of Management showed that, when employers were given the option of working from home and allowed autonomy over their time - for example, not requiring them to log in at a certain time - employee productivity significantly increased, while stress decreased. Less stress means happier people. The happier people are at work, the more productive they are. And the happier people are, the more likely you are to retain them at your company.
It makes commercial sense
This is equally true for both small and large businesses. As a small business, you often don’t have the funds to hire full-time people in every area you need help with. And most of the time, a single full-time hire isn’t specialised enough to deliver on everything.
That’s where #WorkThatWorks comes in. Rather than hire one person full-time you can hire three people part time and then have many more skills covered. Yes there are costs to hiring, but there’s also significant risk in not having the right skills for your business. And you save on operational costs and keep overheads down when people work remotely. For larger businesses, recruitment and retention of talent is one of the most costly things to get wrong. If your employees are happy because they have #WorkThatWorks, they’re more productive and less likely to jump ship, which means more commercial benefit over the long-term.
#WorkThatWork is different for everyone
Our Movement is not about trading one rigid model for another. It is about opening your mind beyond the current inflexible norm. Of course in some roles a flexible, remote-based model doesn’t work and will never work. But we know that as often than not, the barrier isn’t the role but the company culture.
#WorkThatWorks could mean starting earlier and leaving earlier. It could mean making baby steps at first to test it out, to make sure you have the processes in place to properly measure outputs. It could mean starting off roles office-based with a view to introducing more flexibility over time. Or it could be a fully remote working environment like our own. It’s not a single model, but a mindset, with multiple variations (even within the same company). One thing is for sure - the more of us that offer it, the better for everyone.
To show your support for our #WorkThatWorks movement share an image/photo/video on social media which represents the letters WTW (see what we did there).
From graffiti, to sign language, nail art, kids pictures, cupcakes and beyond, let’s fill social media with WTW love. The more of us that do it, the more the world will listen to the fact that WTW is something people are crying out for. So get creative people and post your photos up on social media, making sure to tag us in and use the hashtag #WorkThatWorks - we’ll be sure to share it. You can read more about our movement here
We would also love you to show your support by adding this Facebook overlay to your Facebook profile. When you do please share a message with your followers like 'Show your support for the #WorkThatWorks movement and raise awareness for the need for flexible working. Add this overlay to your profile picture!' Over on Twitter you can add this twibbon to your Twitter profile.
Last of all, you can sign up to Join the Movement to receive updates on #WorkThatWorks' progress over time.