A Fresh approach to women at work: why we won’t be joining the (back-to-the-office) party
It’s started. The trend of calling employees back to the office is in full swing. Amazon and Zoom recently added their voices, supercharging the debate around remote versus in-person working. And it’s an important debate. Being able to truly flex when and where you work brings opportunities. And who benefits most from flexible working for career growth? Women.
At Fresh, we walk the talk. We’re a women-owned and women-strong internal comms agency, and remote, flexible working isn’t new for us; we’re fully virtual and always have been. Fresh is set up to support and celebrate women at all ages and stages of life. So, we can balance our passion for what we do with our commitments – whether that’s family, fun, studying or other career interests.
What women want
According to a recent McKinsey report, 90% of women want the option to work remotely. In addition, we’re still far more likely than men to work part-time.
This is partly due to the challenges women face from day one in their careers. From fighting for equality with male colleagues to the constant setbacks of life milestones, like maternity leave, parental responsibilities, menopause and caring for ageing parents – the list goes on. Any of these can pause or slow women’s progress at work. Meanwhile, men are more often free to keep on going!
Women are also more likely to wear multiple hats, masterminding a military-style operation of caring responsibilities, afterschool clubs, housework and general life admin. When your brain is distracted by such an immense mental load, it’s much harder to focus on career growth.
How do I go from surviving…to thriving?
It may feel like the holy grail, but it is possible to achieve your career dreams without burning out. Even with your brain whirring at a million miles per hour. And it can be life-affirming. So, where do you start?
- Work out what you really want. You can’t pursue your dream if you don’t know what it is.
- Practise self-care. Book a regular mental retreat, whether it’s a walk in the fresh air, meeting friends or cooking a meal. Move away from work and be present in the moment; find your Zen.
- Balance your needs with those of your family, work and health responsibilities.
- Celebrate the small wins.
- Find your tribe. Build a supportive network and surround yourself with people who give you positive energy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it – and give plenty back in return.
- Set boundaries – whether it’s a ban on checking emails after 8pm or taking social media apps off your phone while you’re on holiday.
- Stop being the gatekeeper. OK, we know this is a tough one, but share the mental load at home. Have a conversation and divvy up that endless to-do list. So what if your partner doesn’t do the laundry as well as you? Let go of perfection…then breathe deep into that extra headspace.
Fine tune your advocacy skills
So, you’ve identified what flavour of flex you want. Maybe it’s a longer lunchbreak to get out for a midday run? Hybrid working? Or an earlier finish so you can pick up the kids from school? Whatever you decide works for you, take your confidence and negotiating skills to the next level so you can advocate for yourself.
- Do your homework. Find out what flexible working arrangements colleagues have, and what other organisations offer.
- Ask for a meeting with your manager. Don’t underestimate your professional value and explain the benefits of flexible working to them and the organisation. Will working remotely allow you to see more of your kids, or save money on your commute, making you less stressed and more productive?
- Listen to any concerns, and address them. If they’re still not on board, suggest a trial period. And know your legal rights – there’s lots of useful information on HMRC’s website.
- Beat the fear – get out and practise negotiating whenever you can. Or sign up for a negotiation workshop; LinkedIn Learning is a good place to start.
- Want to negotiate a pay rise? Research online what other companies pay for similar roles via Glassdoor and Indeed. And remember to start high – then you’ve always got room to compromise and go lower.
Been there, bought the t-shirt
At Fresh, we’re proud to be different. The way we work attracts talented people who might find ‘traditional’ workplaces challenging; including those of us who are neurodiverse, live with chronic conditions and disabilities, and have caring responsibilities.
Our unique approach creates true flexibility for our women-strong team. And this helps us achieve high-quality work with a fast turnaround for our clients.
Intrigued to find out more? Let’s talk about how our talented, flexible team can help your business. Get in touch here email@example.com