Tag Archives: working from home

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What IS holding women back?

Are you a feminist someone asked me the other day?

‘What gave you that idea’, I said. What is holding women back

‘You’re very passionate about women’s rights, the ideal working environment for women, the desire for women to succeed and achieve more without feeling they are honey monsters wearing skirts’.

I walked away scratching my head.

Am I a feminist?

I am feminine yes, but a feminist?

I have issues with the ‘ist’ there are many words ending with ist –  sexist, misogynist, ageist, alarmist, educationalist, in fact, 1,201 words to be precise and these words represent some of my views.

Women who succeed are portrayed very poorly by the media, which means they must be bitches capable of whisking that proverbial rug right from underneath you, trip you up on the way to the board room, stab anyone in the back who gets in the way of them.

Yet, many women have worked hard and have achieved success on their own merit, putting in over and above the next man to reach their professional goals.

istock_000000568002smallWe wouldn’t talk about a man in the same way and yet it appears to be normal to assume that a woman at the top has demolished everyone in her wake to get there rather than through sheer bloody hard work.

Conversely, why is it so damning if you give up your career and have children and then choose to go back to work.

The overriding feeling is one of guilt, women are made to feel bad because of the choices they make.

Who or what makes them feel this way?

No one made me feel this way it was my own self doing, the media and other populist channels perpetuating the myth that women with children who work, stay at home mums and career women with children are made to feel guilty.

‘Motherhood’ is the problem, yet millions of us do it.

Balancing work and motherhood and feeling guilty about the choices we make.

It is hard being a woman in the 21st century.

No matter how hard we work we are still facing the same misogynistic rhetoric; women, work and motherhood still doesn’t quite fit into our ‘man-made’ society.

Have we come far enough since Emmeline Pankhurst ardently fought for women’s rights?

And whilst we have made great strides we are still having to justify our existence.

We are biologically different, we have vaginas and are capable of reproducing the species.

If men could reproduce would they still face the same injustices and inequalities as we do?

The longer your maternity leave the less likely you will be able to enter at the level of job at which you left.

How is this fair, just because we have babies does not mean we go deaf dumb and blind.

Why should having time off be damaging to your career path?iStock_000010266186Small

Keeping in contact with the company that employs you during your maternity leave is a good way of ensuring longevity at the firm.

Men don’t face this conundrum so why should women?

If organisations were open with their employees women would feel able to talk to their boss, share their desire to have children and when pregnant be able to work out a strategy that is best for the company and for the woman so that once the baby is born she has a plan on when to return to work, if that is what she chooses to do.

How do we change the perception of womanhood and motherhood for that matter?

Girls are brought up to do girl things we are stereotyped from birth this then continues through the education system, girls are not always encouraged to pursue studies in science and engineering  because they are seen as typically male.

It is difficult for girls because there is a lack of strong female role models they can look up to.

Businesses need to value the contributions that women add and they should be recognised for the talent and ingenuity they bring.

Such small steps can influence the impact on gender diversity.

Mother embracing her little girl before leaving to workLook at the meteoric rise of Ms May, Sturgeon and Frau Merkel who announced recently that she is intending to stand for a fourth term in office; these are women at the pinnacle of their profession.

Senior women in business demonstrate that it is possible to reach the upper limits.

When I was pregnant with my first child, my boss wanted to keep the whole thing quiet, I on the other hand came up with a great marketing idea that also included telling all my customers I was expecting and what to do in my absence.

My boss was mortified, if he’d had his way I would have been put into a shed for nine months not to be seen again he was paranoid about my pregnancy bump being on show in public.

Seventeen years after the birth of my eldest and we are fighting the same battles and I find it disheartening that women’s liberation hasn’t got us further forward it has just enabled us to shout loudly.

How do we change this status quo?

Women need to be firm with employers by discussing working alternatives that suit both the pregnant woman, before and after birth.

There is a perception that a pregnant woman is less likely to want to continue with her career after the birth of a child and is automatically discounted from any future involvement within the company.

Pregnancy is not a disease, many women want to come back to work in the same capacity in which they left.

Women should be allowed to enjoy time off with their newborn without worrying about the consequences of maternity leave.

Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ offers an analytical overview of the inequalities that still exist in the workplace.

But having read the book I am still left with unanswered questions, what is the solution and has anything really changed?

I rather think it is boils down to women to educate their offspring, especially where boys are concerned, if I teach boys to do only male jobs they will never:

A/ be able to manage so called traditional female jobs like washing and ironing

or

B/End up married or living with someone only to perpetuate the cycle all over.

The pressure on women and girls is even greater than when I was a younger woman the insidious nature of social media and the desire to be famous for a minute puts us at greater peril than ever before.

We have to mean or stand for something, being just a woman, whether working or stay at home mum is not enough.

There are survey’s that have to justify every choice a woman makes:-

  • Why it’s better for women to stay at home with their children
  • Why it’s better to go to work when you have children
  • Children of working women do better in school
  • Children of stay at home mothers do better later in life

And the list goes on.

No wonder we are screaming from our desks and kitchen chairs we are constantly trying to be seen to be doing the right thing.

Women are being made to feel guilty for not feeling guilty enough, it is exhausting.

I am teaching my sons the value of women what we have achieved, african businesswoman sitting in officewhat we are capable of, that there is no such thing as women’s and men’s jobs either in the workplace or at home.

I too have feelings of guilt when it comes to work, career and motherhood.

I asked my boys how they feel about mum working, did they ever miss me when they were younger, did my absence at times make them feel less important?

No, came back the answer, you have always been there for us.

Changing this male/female mindset is challenging, men are not genetically wired to think like women but with perseverance and hard work next year when my eldest son leaves for university he will be able to work out the difference between the oven and a washing machine and cook a mean spag bol.

Here’s to the next women’s revolution.

Is your daily commute killing you?

Is your daily commute killing you?

A little extreme? Maybe

Too many hours travelling to and from your place of work will Is your daily commute killing you?eventually take its toll on you, your family and your work life!

It’s hardly groundbreaking news.

Watch the way people drive on the motorways and on the train commute to London and you can see how tired and fed up most people seem to be.

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The economic climate has resulted in many of us commuting even farther to work due to changes in employment or seeking better opportunities.

For twenty years I regularly commuted to my place of work often fifty-sixty miles each way,  on the road for four hours plus assuming there was no motorway chaos or accidents!

In my job as a sales representative, I managed to accumulate 49,000 business miles that’s a little under 1,000 miles a week in one year.

That paled into insignificance to other work colleagues some of whom were travelling in excess of 60,000+ a year.

There was a competition to see who could accumulate the most number of business miles because our fuel cards were running an incentive, swapping road-miles for air miles.

At the time I was newly divorced and so there was no direct impact on anyone but me.

No wonder I was tired, cranky and single I didn’t have time for relationships let a lone time to socialise.

My backside started to turn square sitting in the car for so long. Often my only relaxation time was my daily run, either very early or late at night.

Not surprising then that I was and still am a big advocate of working from home, or teleworking.

Three vital tools a salesperson needed in those days was a phone, a writing pad and a desk or table.

Is your daily commute killing you?

I simply could not understand why my employers were reluctant to let us work from home.

I worked so hard to prove and convince my sales bosses that this surely was a more cost effective and productive way of working, I even did a presentation to justify the cost benefits.

In the early 90’s my idea of working from home was 1-2 days a week, with a day at the office and 1-2 days out visiting customers and prospective clients.

It appeared to be a workable solution and it had the potential to deliver a more productive and less tired sales consultant.

Sadly, my employers were resistant! Surely proof of staying at home was PRODUCTIVITY = RESULTS = SALES = SAVINGS = no more excessive fuel and mobile phone bills.

Many years later when I established Digital Print Management, my commute to the office is typically a fifteen mile trip and fits in with my boys schooling, my home and personal life, all of which are reasonably well balanced.

Many of our customers have adopted a more laid back approach to their employees working from home and oftentimes I talk with customers who themselves are also working from home.

Employers are slowly waking up to the benefits of mobile working but, it is a slow change marked with cultural antipathy.

Attitudes are shifting and it is becoming the accepted norm. Wherever it is physically possible, a job should allow flexibility and freedom to work from the home and office.

Mobile devices, smartphones and tablets provide the flexibility and accessibility to achieve this.

One company I worked for in the city absolutely insisted that I checked in to the office daily prior to going out cold calling and visiting clients, in spite of the travelling I did into London daily.

It felt like a sprint to get to the office on time before then dashing out again to my first call.Is your daily commute killing you?

No matter how hard I tried I could not convince the manager that working this way was tiring and ineffective.

Evidently me showing my face at the beginning of the day was the reassurance he needed to know that yes, I was really working.

It didn’t occur to him that if I wanted to I could have slipped off any afternoon to Oxford Street to go shopping.

Work should be viewed as an activity and not a destination or location that one has to trawl through traffic to get too.

In the last five years there has been a radical shift in attitudes to the home working model between January-March 2014 there were 4.2 million of us working from home or 13.9% of the workforce, 25.9 million who were non-home workers.

7% of non-home workers were self employed compared with 63% of home workers. 34% of home workers were employees of an organisation. (Source: ONS)

Accessing emails, connecting to company data on the go have revolutionised the way we work, engaging with customers remotely, on social media, email, skype or google hangouts is an accepted standard of working.

With technology making our lives easier and stress free from the daily commute surprisingly large companies like Yahoo back in 2013 turned the teleworking policy on its heels and insisted that employees should work at the office location because it stimulates ideas, decisions and insights often in the hallway or in the cafeteria.

Organisations have streamlined integration of business applications into the mobile world through cloud computing providing a greater level of functionality and security in mobile platforms for remote working.

Working from home has made portable devices indispensable.

Does working from home have it’s downside?

Aside of the commute, working from home can leave us disconnected from work colleagues and in some instances it could be days before you talk to someone face to face.

But working from home affords you the opportunity to think, something you can’t do effectively in a busy office, time to plan, to be creative and the most important part is it gives us the chance to collect the children from school or be there to welcome them home!

How mobile working has changed our lives.

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It seems a lifetime ago when I entered the working world fresh out of University at a time when the internet, mobile devices and cloud computing weren’t even thought of.

The nearest I got to anything remotely computerised was a prized possession, an Olivetti electronic typewriter capable of holding 8 pages of A4 in its memory including my C.V.

Over the last twenty years technological advancements make it possible to work remotely and this has changed the way in which we approach our working day.

Remote or mobile working has given the family with young children more flexibility!

Mobile devices, smart phones, tablets, e-readers, kindles can provide accessibility to the internet.

Work is now seen as an activity and not a destination or location that one has to trawl through traffic to get to day in day out.

One particular Manager I recall working for in the City in my days as a Sales Rep absolutely insisted I report to the office first thing in the morning prior to the commencement of my customer visits for the day. This meant a trip to the Angel, London, my place of work and then on to to see customers which could have been North of London.

This was an absolute waste of my time, valuable company time and a waste of car fuel.

No matter how hard I tried I could not convince him that working this way was tiring and ineffective. Clearly, me showing my face at the beginning of the day was the reassurance he needed to know I was working.

It didn’t cross his mind that if I wanted to I could have easily slipped off any afternoon and gone to Oxford Street shopping!

Despite earlier resistors to remote working, Managers now appreciate the benefits that can be derived from employees working from home.

Remote or mobile working has provided added flexibility to employees with young children.
Remote or mobile working has provided added flexibility to employees with young children.

In the last ten years there has been a radical shift in mindset toward the advantages of the mobile working model.

Accessing emails, connecting to remote systems and company data on the go have revolutionised the way we work, engaging with customers either on line or face to face, via social media, email and mobile phone are an accepted part of the new working model.

Employees are no longer obliged to sit at their desks day in day out. With the advent of mobile computing and smart devices accessing company data couldn’t be easier. Mobile working is effective wherever you are.

Organisations have streamlined integration of business applications into the mobile world through cloud computing providing a deeper level of functionality and security on mobile platforms for remote working.

In turn this has resulted in:-

  1. Full access to all business critical systems and data resulting in quicker decision making
  2. Enhanced productivity as employees can work wherever they are
  3. Increased flexibility, changes in working hours and the option to work from home especially during bouts of heavy snow and interrupted travel

The remote working model has made portable mobile devices indispensable, the biggest headache is deciding which one is the right one for you! In turn, mobile devices and cloud computing have revolutionised the way we work!

Many organisations embrace this way of working because it provides tangible benefits such as cost reduction, growth, employee satisfaction and better customer care.

There is a convincing argument for mobile working but is there a downside to working alone, at home, remotely?

Carrying your “office” may have its disadvantages, leaving us disconnected from work colleagues and associates. Working from home or mobile working does require a degree of discipline its easy to be distracted by other external influences such as the home phone ringing, a neighbour seeing your car on the drive who just happens to call unannounced.

None of which is insurmountable, as long as you set your working boundaries, hours of work and bolster a big sign that says “I might be in but I am actually working from home today”

What initiatives can you implement to ensure employees are singing from the same hymn sheet:-

1. Set and agree goals.
 Employees can lose direction without a sense of purpose. Managers are required to set goals reinforcing the importance of collaboration and agreement between team members.

Remote employees actively suggest new ideas, create their own projects, set and share personal goals and put forward solutions.

2. Stay connected
. Great team players are trustworthy and available. Web and mobile connectivity makes it easier to connect with remote employees but it can also make it harder and less certain i.e. are they on a call with a client? Is she on Skype with an associate?

Whose responsibility is it to stay connected? The remote worker’s or the office? No wrong answer here but remote employees assume the onus is on them to stay connected.

Remote employees let others know when they won’t be available and the reasons why, they also make it known how they can still be contacted in the event of an emergency because they consider working remotely as a trade-off they may have more freedom to slip into the kitchen and make a coffee but they also recognise that with that freedom comes the responsibility of super-availability. This in turn means that super-availability creates trust with employees and customers.

3. Focus on results not time.
 With some organisations it’s enough to show up and put in your time working and what you actually accomplish is almost secondary to being present.

Employees working outside of the main offices tend to focus on results, not presence.

Remote employees focus on accomplishing objectives as quickly and efficiently as possible. If a task “should” take a week and it is completed in three days that opens up time to accomplish other tasks.

There is no doubt that remote working and cloud computing have opened up our lives to being more creative, imposing self will and more freedom to manage the end result.

As long as the end goal is a sense of well being, accomplishment and more time to spend with the family then mobile working should be welcomed by employers and employees alike.

What do you think?

Do you prefer working from home or do you need a more governed, routine approach to work?

We love to hear your view point so why not leave a comment in the box below.

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