Guest blogger, Liz Kershaw, explains how flexible working is the secret to successful freelancing when you’re also a mother of two.
Picking up Nerf gun bullets, finding the appropriate box for the several loose DS games, locating “Baby Annabel’s” lost socks and putting the lounge back together while carefully avoiding the kitchen, my thoughts are on the business of the day (perhaps rather more than getting the DS games in the right box).
This is a typical Monday morning post school run in my house and probably fairly typical of most working mums across the UK. This is unless you are lucky enough to have a nanny who is expert at DS game filing and who never has to crawl under beds risking life and limb among the rubbish gathered there, to retrieve the one game you have not found and which is needed now!
Having it all
Anyway – back to business. There was a time when working mothers thought they could have it all. Realism has at last stealthily crept her way in and perhaps proved that “all” is maybe not possible, but we can certainly have a crack at getting the best of both worlds if we work hard.
Flexibility is the key
Flexible working is the holy grail of most working mums and, whilst I acknowledge that some companies really do offer a wealth of flexible working opportunities and have a happy band of employees as a result, overall I feel that not enough businesses are in this category.
But working mums, don’t despair. There are some superb agencies working extremely hard on our behalf – well certainly in my field of work, which is internal communications, who have the experience, knowledge and skill to show clients how to save money, yet get the job done really well if they give us mums a chance.
Freelancing three days a week
What I mean is, most companies still place jobs with agencies on the traditional 37 hours per week over 5 days scenario. And of course, some roles do demand those hours over those days, that I am careful to acknowledge.
But many don’t and by suggesting to their clients that they could in fact hire a more experienced person on a temporary or freelance basis who can get huge amounts done in a working day over a three or four day per week basis, agencies are creating great partnerships which benefit all.
Companies are seeing that they can get a better person for the job. One who is loyal, hard working, efficient, experienced and happy in their role at a good rate with very few strings attached.
Adding strings to my bow
This suits some companies, particularly if they want someone to work on a specific or short-term project. I’ve been lucky enough to work for some great companies on really interesting projects since I started as a freelance internal communications consultant in 2006.
What’s even better, some of these roles have been slightly outside my normal sphere which has added some extra strings to my bow and brought a different set of skills to the role.
I’ve been able to immerse myself in some HR projects, the re-launching of some major intranets, rewritten several company policies and launched a new maternity package for a FTSE100 company, all on 3 days per week, much of which was worked at home, thanks to the technology my clients and my home now have in place.
At the school gate
For the other two days of my week I’m back to being just mum with all the things that entails including said Nerf gun bullet and DS game collection.
But, more importantly, being at the school gate at the end of the day, taking my children to tennis and ballet classes, chatting to them while they eat their tea and being involved in the school gate gossip – the importance of which one must never underestimate if you want to have any influence on your child’s education!
100% committed to both my roles
Some light heartedness aside, I take my two roles very seriously and give my heart and soul to them both – and I know many working mums like me do too. We care deeply about our family, that goes without saying. But we also care deeply about our clients, our career and our reputation. We are committed to doing a good job and giving of ourselves fully – yes we might want a bit of flexibility, no we can’t always be there all the time, but you can bet your bottom dollar that we won’t let you down – I just hope more companies will see the light soon, as it’s a win-win partnership when they do.
Liz Kershaw is a Freelance Internal Communications Consultant.