This post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Angel Kilian is a Human Resource (HR) and Diversity & Inclusion professional with over 12 years of experience. She has been recognised twice amongst LinkedIn’s Top Voices for Gender Equality and Company Culture
As a first-time mom to a now 8-month-old son, the thought of going back to work was daunting. Some two months ago, I, too, made the transition of being a parent who was heading back into the workforce.
It all seemed somewhat overwhelming, especially in the early weeks.
Though my colleagues had warned me about this, it always hits differently when it's your turn to experience it.
Managing my career, a baby, a household, my social life - how does one do this without losing themself? How does one create that so-called balance in a transition that you, in hindsight, can't prepare for?
I'm not going to put lipstick on a pig and tell you it was easy.
Yet, I have been incredibly fortunate to work for an empathetic and encouraging employer who supported me with flexible working policies during this transition period. Being able to adjust my work schedule and location meant that I could show up to deliver client work and be able to be fully present with my son during his bedtime routine.
It may seem small, but all these small bits add up. And as much as I'm still on this journey, I've realised that the flexibility in working schedules has given me so much space to balance my work and personal life.
I'm calmer, my time is being optimised, and I'm truly present in the moment – present at work and present with my family.
But here's the thing, flexible working arrangements are not just for new moms, nor just women for that matter. It's relevant to everyone, irrespective of gender and their situation at home.
When I speak to others around me, I hear a similar pattern of how flexible working arrangements has had not only an impact on them but also on those around them.
And by flexible working arrangements, I don't just mean working shorter hours, it could also be working remotely, working outside standard hours, or a variety of other arrangements.
For instance, I've encountered male colleagues who have leveraged flexible working schedules while pursuing higher education. Another colleague achieves his best work whilst travelling - and flexible working has enabled him to see the world and meet our global clients face to face whilst on the road, going above his KPIs.
And in today's post-COVID world, we at least have access to the right digital tools that allow us to still succeed while finding our way in this new rhythm.
Amongst my peers, many have said that they would find it difficult to work for a company that requires them to be in the office for 40-hour weeks again.
Similarly, with my career coaching clients, jobs that don't offer flexible working arrangements are often seen as dealbreakers. "They haven't caught up with the new working culture," they say.
A recent report by GoTo and Frost & Sullivan also refers to this; organisations with a hybrid work model have a significantly lower turnover (-22%), 3 in 4 organisations observed an increase in employee satisfaction in 2021 compared to 2020, and above all – reported productivity (42% of respondents) is up too.
And I couldn't agree more.
Flexibility has become a must-have to be seen as an employer of choice in the modern workplace.
Not just in having access to a larger pool of talent but especially so in attracting and nurturing a diverse group of talent who, in turn, accelerate innovation in a company.
Furthermore, technological advances, such as products like GoTo, have also meant that people like me can work anywhere, anytime, whilst still contributing with impactful work and being highly productive. All of which lead to having a positive company culture.
For example, most of my calls today are done virtually. This not only allows me to reach a larger audience that increases the impact I have with my clients, but it also enables me to work efficiently and integrate my work and personal life better. By having a technology platform that seamlessly facilitates hybrid work, I feel more connected as an employee with a greater sense of belonging to the company I work for.
All in all, I consider myself fortunate to have arrangements that set me up to thrive both in the workplace and at home.
I'm fully conscious that many before me have not been able to have that privilege, but being an advocate for flexible work, I'm encouraged by more and more businesses opening the door to change.
Because, as they say, people are your most important asset. Especially in a workplace where people have choices. The choice to commit to an employer who supports you and a new age of working mindful of business goals and personal life.