Flexa's personal stories: a job that encourages me to be a parent too
In my own head I felt torn between work and being a mum, but Farfetch has supported me to realise that you don’t have to make sacrifices to be both successful in my career and a good mother.
7th Sep 2020
Could you tell me a bit about you, your job, and how long you’ve been at Farfetch?
I’m Rebecca, and I’ve been part of the Farfetch Group for 3 years now. Currently, I’m working as part of the Farfetch Private Client team and prior to that I was at Browns Fashion.
As a Private Client team, we look after our top tier customers. We have a team of about 30 stylists, and I manage half of that team. We cover the UK & Europe and our ambition is to surprise and delight a huge array of customers. They have requests across all areas, whether it be something that we have on the website, or it could be a completely unique experience or product that they want. Most recently, we sourced a new and boxed Zelda from 1994 that was worth $20,000 dollars.
No two days are the same and with a small child it can be a bit difficult to keep on top of managing a global team and a family.
So you mentioned you have a small child, tell me about how you managed work and caring for them, particularly during lockdown?
I went on maternity leave while I was still working at Browns. I was so daunted by the experience of being in a store and working store hours with a small child, I just didn’t know how to make it work. When I first came back to work at Browns I asked to reduce my days to four, which they really supported. I had a flexible working pattern within a retail space and I just didn’t think that could happen, as I’d heard so many stories of other people not being able to work flexibly.
Now as part of the Private Client team at Farfetch, we moved to working from home during lockdown, which was difficult when nurseries were closed as my partner is also a full-time carer for his parents. We have a small child and two elders to look after which was tough with no childcare!
Farfetch has two kinds of flexible working, there’s flexi-time and flexible working. With flexi-time there’s freedom with the hours that you work - you don’t have to work 9am-6pm, there’s more scope to start and finish at a time that works better for you. And with the flexible working policy, you can request an official change to your working pattern. At the beginning of the pandemic I was struggling with being there for my team and my family. Once I got used to things, I found more of a balance where I was there for my team when I had cover for my son, and then I’d spend the evening with him, and maybe log back on after he’d gone to bed if I needed to. That time in the evening was good to get things done as you don’t have dozens of people emailing you and asking you for things.
Sounds like you managed well! What’s the situation now and in the future in terms of flexible working then?
Now I have officially changed my hours so that when my son is at nursery on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I work 8am-5pm, and on a Monday and Friday when he’s at home I work 9am-6pm. It gives us a lot of flexibility and time to look after my partner’s parents too.
I should also mention that any Farfetcher can request to adjust their working pattern or place of work, not just working parents.
You mentioned that the change is official now, what was that conversation like with Farfetch when you requested your working pattern to be formalised?
It was incredible, I can honestly say they’ve been so supportive. Before the official change we were experimenting with what worked best. At Farfetch the values include “Be Human” and I do feel that they live and breathe that. Being able to have that honest and open conversation, not just as a one off, but on an ongoing basis, was really helpful to me because it made it easier to make work, work for me. It was an easy conversation between myself, my manager, and the people partner to make sure that we could make the change official.
What impact would you say flexible working has had on your life?
I think that as a new parent, I was worried about even being able to work. Having flexibility day-to-day means that I have actually managed to find a good work-life balance. I love being able to switch off at 5pm Tuesday to Thursday and just focus on my family, that has been life-changing. In my own head I felt torn between work and being a mum, but Farfetch has supported me to realise that you don’t have to make sacrifices to be both successful in my career and a good mother.
Before you had a child, was flexible working something that you’d ever considered?
It was never something that I thought was possible. Because of the industry that I’m in, with clients 24/7, I just didn’t think I’d be able to work flexibly. However, there are lots of parents at Farfetch and within Private Client and flexible working has meant that we can do our jobs well and be productive. In other roles I’ve worked in prior to joining the Farfetch Group, this just wasn’t an option.
Is there anything that you wish Farfetch offered, or that you want them to consider?
We’ve actually got a Farfetch Parents Community that works together to make an inclusive and supportive working environment, incorporating people’s feedback into strategies that will change the way we work in the future. During lockdown, Farfetch introduced Caring Days, which gave us the option to switch our two paid volunteering days a year for time off to look after ourselves or our loved ones. We are also introducing a parent buddy system so that parents joining Farfetch understand what’s on offer. I’m lucky because I think everything I need is catered for and we have support from senior leaders.
What would you say to other businesses that aren’t embracing flexible working in the same way?
Other companies need to explore the options and make sure that they are catering to the demands of their employees post-COVID. Not understanding what your employees need, and what other companies are doing, is dangerous. Don’t guess what people want, keep asking them!