Flexible working is fast becoming a more widespread option for workers in digital industries. The ability to work from anywhere and at different times so long as you are online has started to be a great perk of digital jobs, including marketing.
[image credit: iStock/vgajic]
One of the findings from our recent Gender in Marketing survey was that women are more likely to make the most of flexible working. As 37.4 per cent of women in our sample are parents, it suggests that more women may be making the most of flexible working in order to look after children as well as continue with their careers. It could also be a sign that the marketing industry is becoming more accommodating for working parents.
However, 37.8 per cent of men in our sample are also parents and yet the eight per cent of agency respondents who say they work flexibly were all women. This suggests that although flexible working is becoming more of an option, men, even those with children, are not fully taking advantage of the benefits it provides.
Dads were also four times more likely than mums to say that having children has had no negative impact on their career, despite not making use of flexible working. While 50.8 per cent of mums said that having parental responsibilities has somewhat hampered their career, this is a decrease from the 56.7 per cent who gave the same answer back in 2015. This could mean that flexible working arrangements has benefits for careers as well as families.
Here at Axonn, we can work flexibly and people use this option a variety of ways. Whether they work from home, switch from full- to part-time, or change the hours they work in a day so they can attend appointments or do other things, most people in every department make the most of the flexible options provided. Here are just a few who do so:
Emma formerly worked in our Leeds office but decided to start working from home in order to move in with her partner in Gateshead. She works full-time from the comfort of her home office, unless she is attending events, which can mean she works from different locations, including London hotel rooms.
She says that flexible working is the best option for her because she can do her job from where she wants to be, rather than where she has to be. This, along with the fact that she doesn't have to deal with the nightmare that is a morning commute, means she is more productive and suffers fewer distractions throughout the day.
Emma is a firm believer that more companies should offer flexible working options as it is a great way to attract talent. Having the ability to work from home or to change hours as and when required helps to engage those who have other commitments beyond their job. Now that she has enjoyed the possibilities that flexible working offers, Emma admits that she would have to think very carefully before considering a role that didn't offer it.
Our directors also have the option to make the most of flexible working and Joe takes full advantage. Although many people start working at 8am, Joe starts later in order to drop his children off at breakfast club, making up the hours in the afternoon. He also previously split his day in two in order to pick them up from school in the afternoon, starting work again later in the day.
Beyond this, Joe says that flexible working benefits him as he is able to take leave at short notice or work from home if his children are ill or have school inset days, which makes childcare less of an issue. This not only saves money, it also cuts down on stress, especially when it came to relocating from Leeds to our London office.
For Joe, flexible working means being able to get more done and being more available while still fulfilling other responsibilities. He says that it leads to a more effective workforce and improves employee loyalty because people can fit their jobs around their lives, rather than the other way around. Flexible working would be a priority for him if it ever came to negotiating another position and one that didn't offer it would be far less attractive.
Sophie originally hails from Middlesborough, which is where her family still lives. She often makes use of flexible working to spend more time with them, heading back partway through the week and working from home for a few days so she doesn't need to spend the weekend travelling a lot. She says this makes her time there more worthwhile and ensures a solid work/life balance.
The fact that she can work from anywhere so long as she has internet is a big plus for Sophie and she says that Axonn's policy on flexible working is great. She appreciates that her manager and the big bosses can trust that people are doing their work if they do make the most of the flexibility and so employees don't feel as though they always need to be in the office.
As far as she's concerned, flexible working is "the way forward" and more companies should provide it as an option. She says it offers a lot of benefits as people can change their working hours or arrangements to suit their needs, which makes for happier workers.
Content manager Joe makes the most of Axonn's flexible working policy, mostly so he can grapple people at lunchtime. While he typically works between 8.30 and 5.30 every day, on certain days, Joe takes a two-hour lunch so he can go to jiu-jitsu training, making up the extra hour. He also works from home occasionally.
Joe says that, for him, flexible working is incredibly positive as it allows him to enjoy his personal interests more, develop outside of work and make days a lot less stressful. It also means he can be at home if someone is coming to repair something in his flat. All of this means that Joe thinks other positions would need to make up the lack of flexible working in significant ways as it is such a great benefit.
Joe also allows his team to work flexibly, as the most important part of a job, in his eyes, is getting the job done. He doesn't think this necessarily means sticking to regular hours if they can be more efficient working flexibly. On top of this, he thinks it's great for increasing job satisfaction, improves employee happiness and means people are more likely to go above and beyond.
Fiona started to use Axonn's flexible working policy when she had her little boy. Because full-time childcare is such a big expense, she started working three days a week instead of five so she could be at home for two days. Now that her boy is a bit older, she is able to switch to four days a week instead, with the company's full support.
Not only does working fewer days a week save on childcare costs, Fiona also gets to enjoy more time with her little boy, which she thinks is incredibly important. It also means she hasn't had to give up a job and industry that she enjoys, with the three days she works helping to keep her mind active and allows her to keep up with changes in marketing and continue to grow her skills. Fiona says that although she could work full-time, she would resent having to do this if it just meant paying for more childcare.
For Fiona, flexible working has been the best option. She thinks that it could provide great benefits for other women wanting to get back to work after having a baby, as it can be difficult to balance childcare and work while also staying at the same job level. She thinks flexible working is a great way to spread the cost of childcare and reduce stress.
On top of this, Fiona thinks that dads need the option to be flexible too so it isn't just all on mums. She knows that she can work a full day as her partner can pick up their little boy as he has flexibility in his role too. This is why she is a firm believers that digital companies should be providing some form of flexibility, whether employees are parents or not, with flexible hours and the ability to work from home being invaluable.
Flexibility and digital go hand-in-hand
If more digital companies offered flexible working as standard to all employees, our Gender in Marketing results might be different. However, it is now becoming more of a hot topic, with potential employees asking for the perk or looking for roles that offer it, which could cause a shift in future findings.
To find out more about what we discovered from our Gender in Marketing survey, read the full report on our findings here.