"Flexible working means I don't have to call in sick all the time in order to manage my chronic conditions"

Normalising flexible work

3rd Mar 2021

Hi there! Thank you so much for sharing your experience of flexible working with us :)

We believe that flexible working should be for everyone, but there are still dated perceptions and stigmas around flexible working being for women, or working mums, that we desperately want to shift. Without offering flexible working to everyone, then we can’t achieve true equality because there will be a “normal” way of working for most people while those who can’t work “normally” will be treated differently and “othered”. Something which should not be happening in the 21st Century. 

Today we are delighted to be featuring Emma, who is a freelance social media manager, movie buff and sewing fan!

Can you introduce yourself and what you do (professionally and for fun!)?

My name is Emma and I’m 27 years old. For work, I am a freelance social media marketer. For fun, I watch the cheesiest Hallmark/Lifetime movies, sew TV and movie-inspired cross-stitch (Tina from Bob’s Burgers is a personal favourite), read lots of books and play even more Sims 4.

Why does flexible working matter to you?

I have several disabilities that are unpredictable, so committing to a strict 9-5 doesn’t work for me. My conditions give me chronic fatigue and pain so not having to commute is a big help to me, as is being able to be flexible with when I work. If I wake up in the morning in pain, it’s nice to know I can just work later on rather than having to call in sick.

What has your experience of looking for flexibility been like?

In short, a nightmare. Searching for legitimate employment opportunities and only finding “complete surveys for us and we’ll pay you in gift cards” type of roles is very disheartening. I spent 18-months searching for jobs and ended up having to create my own, which is why seeing Flexa launch has been so exciting to me. I know so many people who will be helped by a platform like this.

What has flexible working allowed you to do? Or what has a lack of flexibility stopped you from doing?

Flexible working has allowed me to feel better in my body and have a life outside of my job. I can structure my time to best suit my health needs which means I can do things besides work and rest. I’m able to work part-time, in a comfortable spot (from bed if I have to!) and pace myself as I need to.

What do you think needs to change in terms of working environments?

The rhetoric that work from home “isn’t real work” and the current toxic culture amongst young professionals that you have to “hustle harder” in order to succeed.

Many employers place a lot of value on who needs the least sleep, the least breaks, the least accommodations. The people who work 50 hour weeks, who stay up writing proposals long into the next morning and who give up their weekends are seen as dedicated and hard-working. The implication being that if you cannot do those things, for whatever reason, you are less valuable than others.

This can actually prevent people from stating what their needs are and is so harmful to those who can’t work in that way and need accommodations. 

What do you think has the biggest impact on flexible working uptake?

I think knowing your employer will still respect you as an employee and not see you as “lazy” is so important. We don’t want to put our livelihoods at risk, so companies should work to make sure their employees feel safe to ask for what they need. I know that when I had to ask to go to part-time hours, I wanted to feel reassured and know I wouldn’t be judged or penalised in any way.

Would you like to add anything else?

I think Flexa has come at such a good time. The pandemic has had a huge impact on flexible working and companies who previously said flexible working was not something they could facilitate were not given a choice in 2020. This led to a lot of businesses realising they actually could make it work, and hopefully they will keep that going in the future with the help of platforms like Flexa.

Many companies also discovered the many benefits of flexible working. One of my friends said her job will stay remote now as her bosses found productivity increased by 40% at home.

We'll be publishing personal flexible working stories like Emma's all through March. Sign up to Flexa today to begin your own flexible working journey!