Launching Flexibility Works
Getting to the heart of the issue
Tackling inequalities and social issues is basically what I have spent most of my adult life doing. Setting up an organisation which tackles social issues that are important to me, is something I've wanted to do for a long time. And when I completed a business course in Boston 7 years ago – I finally had the confidence to say out loud that I wanted to, at one point, set up an organisation to drive social change.
I actually met my husband David on that business course and 5 years ago we had our first baby, wee Alfie. And that’s the first time that I was personally looking for a little more formal flexible working- a job share more specifically. And oh boy did I have a sharp wake up call, as I ended up having to leave my position as a Director with a Third Sector organisation, a job I loved, due to a lack of flexibility.
But the more I looked at this issue I realised it wasn’t just me, there was just a complete lack of flexible working opportunities in general. Yet the more I researched, the more I discovered that the benefits of flexible working could be far reaching not only for people but also for business - for Scotland.
So, I had found one heck of an issue that I felt so passionate about and could not have been closer to my heart. But I didn’t just want to talk about it, I wanted to drive change and help create a more flexible working culture in Scotland.
And then I found Nikki – a brilliant, hardworking and creative partner in crime and someone equally passionate about creating more flexible working. Nikki was working for another organisation at the time campaigning for more flexible working and I applied for a job to join the team.
Nikki and I could not contain our passion for the issue and energy for change, we could see a great opportunity for Scotland to become a leading flexible working nation. We knew we could make something great happen. And not just for mums like us but for everyone in our society who wants and needs flexibility – carers, people with a disability, people with long term health conditions, people reaching retirement. In fact, 87% of people in the UK want flexible working. But it’s not just people who benefit there is a stack of evidence that proves that flexible working drives business performance too.
So, in April 2020, we jointly founded Flexibility Works to support more employers in Scotland to create flexible workplaces.
Together, Nikki and I move with pace and give one another confidence to carry on the great fight for more flexible working but we also have fun together. And we do this alongside our small but mighty team that includes our colleagues Geraldine Higgins and Caitlin Auld and our board, Liz, Jen and Andy, - all of whom have worked so incredibly hard over the past 5 months get us off the ground and up and running so successfully.
For me flexible working has a hugely positive impact for people, for business and for Scotland. I want my three boys - and all our children - to grow up in fair and inclusive Scotland and flexible working is part of achieving a healthy, vibrant, and more equal society. I have witnessed first-hand the positive impact that flexible working makes to business. I have seen organisations benefit from increased productivity, improved employee engagement and morale simply by introducing flexible working. I have also seen organisations successfully use flexible working to recruit and retain employees and to build a more diverse inclusive, happier and healthier workforce.
In some ways it is hard to believe it has only been 5 months since we launched Flexibility Works. What a time to a launch a new venture. But of course, no-one could have predicted how the world would look back in April. In a strange twist of fate in many ways, the pandemic has accelerated the conversation about flexible working. This of course is not normal flexible working as we know it. What we have experienced is people being forced to adapt in a crisis - practically changing how we work overnight. But the silver lining is that barriers are coming down and mindsets are shifting.
Even pre COVID the Mon-Fri 9-5 was becoming outdated people wanted more control and autonomy over their working patters and progressive employers were cottoning on. And now as we come through the pandemic the message we are hearing from employers and employees is fairly consistent - that the future of work, pandemic aside, will look more flexible, it will be different and there will be a big shift to more flexible working . So maybe this is our time.
It has been a whirlwind 5 months and we really do want to thank the Hunter Foundation and the Scottish Government for backing us as the world turned upside down – for sharing our vision for a flexible working Scotland and for believing in Flexibility Works. And for seeing the value it can have to change and improve lives.
To all of you who have supported Flexibility Works to get here and to those who we hope will join us as we move forward: we can promise we will work tirelessly to change the way we work in Scotland. This truly is a project that comes from the heart.
Just in case you missed the launch event on 1 October - you can watch it again here.