Question 1: What's the case for Flexible working and how does it benefit both employee and employer?

Flexible working is essential to a thriving workforce. For the employer and employee, there are many benefits. Flexibility allows talent to remain in the workplace and blend their work-life responsibilities accordingly, reducing hiring costs and retaining knowledge and experience within the organisation. It is an important factor for attracting talent, as it gives people a wider range of job options that they otherwise may not have had. Those who work flexibly have higher job satisfaction and enhanced productivity. Embracing flexible working helps to create a diverse talent pipeline and companies with a diverse workforce especially at a leadership level outperform their competition. In summary, flexible working leads to better employee well-being and improved talent recruitment and retention contributing to a positive impact on the bottom line.

Question 2:  Why is flexible working so important and what impact have you seen? 

The fact that we have a new flexible working bill in place which increases the ease of requesting flexible working reflects just how important it is. The bill allows employees to request flexible working from day one of joining a company rather than having to wait 26 weeks. The new legislation impacts millions of people giving them the choice of how they best work and enabling them to stay in their jobs. It’s good for the economy and good for business. I have seen it have an incredibly positive impact on talent, as a mum of two myself, it was one of the factors that attracted me to join OMD as I could see that flexibility was embedded in the agency as part of the culture. Flexible working has allowed me to blend my work as well as my parenting responsibilities. I’m trusted to deliver, and I’m given the support that I need to be there for my family.

Question 3: You've written about 'The Blend' - what impact do you think flexible working policies have//will have on women's careers? And do you see any differences based on seniority of role?

Flexible working enables women at all levels of their careers to remain in the workplace. In relation to women with children, research shows that if women can work flexibly, then they are twice as likely to remain in the workforce post-pregnancy. Similar applies to women experiencing menopause symptoms. In essence, flexible working allows women to progress in their careers and attain more senior positions which helps improve gender equality and the gender pay gap. It’s important to mention that flexibility for both men and women within the workplace helps increase the adoption of flexible working and establish it as the norm. The more men and partners can work flexibly the more options women will have when it comes to pursuing their career aspirations.  

When it comes to seniority, it is important to recognise that more junior talent may find it more difficult to embrace flexibility due to less autonomy in their roles. Senior talent can therefore play an important role in role-modelling and advocating for flexibility in the workplace.

Question 4: What advice would you give to those wanting to ask for flexible working? 

My advice for anyone wanting to request flexible working to talk about  the benefits of adopting a more flexible approach to work. These conversations should be approached in a similar manner to a negotiation– not in a hostile way, but in such a way that everyone walks away with some sort of benefit, so that the arrangement works for you but also works for the organisation. The WACL’s Flexible First Toolkit is packed with data, advice and tips to help employees and employers implement flexible working successfully and can be downloaded here


Question 5: What advice and.or learnings would you offer to organisations- setting up flexible working policies?

There are lots of companies with brilliant flexible working policies that are reaping the benefits. So to that end, don’t be afraid to test and learn. Use the WACL flexible first tool kit as a guide and speak to other business leaders to learn from their experiences. Talk to your employees to understand what would be helpful for them and take the feedback on onboard whilst crafting your own organisation’s policy.

WACL (Women in Advertising Communications Leadership) is leading the charge with their initiative, “Levers for Change” a five-part series dedicated to accelerating gender equality and propelling more women into the coveted CEO role.

Our 50% CEO playbook provides practical tools to achieve a future where women hold half of all CEO positions.