An increasingly discussed topic before the pandemic of 2020 began, the possibility and introduction of flexible working was gaining traction with the help of influential bloggers such as Anna Whitehouse (Mother Pukka) and Joeli Brearley of Pregnant then Screwed. Fast forward to 2021 and flexible working has become the norm, with most of the UK population forced to work from home - parents working around their children and homeschooling commitments - during the Coronavirus pandemic.
As a result of Covid-19 and the multiple Stay At Home orders issued by the UK government, the majority of office workers have been performing their professional roles from their own homes for over a year now. While the restrictions around social distancing and office working are due to end this month, many businesses have taken this opportunity to make flexible working a permanent feature of their employment offering. We spoke to the inspirational mother-of-two, Tobi @mybumppay, to discuss her personal experience and the future of flexible working for parents.
Has the pandemic permanently changed the way we work?
My name is Tobi and I am the Founder of My Bump Pay which is a platform that helps women smash the glass ceiling with a baby on the way and beyond.
I became a mother-of-two a few months before the pandemic hit. I was in unfamiliar territory now having two small children close in age to juggle at home during my maternity leave. Never could I have imagined or ever prepared myself for all that was to come. I feel really privileged to be able to reflect on the positive outcomes of the lockdown, as I know many thousands of people are tragically no longer with us to share in this reflection. So I do not take this opportunity for granted.
A big positive for many parents like myself has been spending more time with my children. During lockdown I returned back to work after my second maternity leave, a moment that can often leave many parents torn between wanting to lean into their career but also be there for their children. Unlike my first return to work, this time I was able to spend time with my children in the morning, get them ready for the day and take them to nursery. I could do all of this and still log on to work in good time, leaving me feeling like I could be incredibly productive at work but also present at home.
Flexible working as standard
In March of 2021 the government said that it is in the interest of employers and employees to offer flexible working as standard. This was a brilliant first step spearheaded by The Minister for Women and Equalities. We still have a long way to go as women were found to be twice as likely to lose their jobs due to unpaid caring responsibilities during the pandemic. There isn’t a quick solution to this problem but greater pay equity and more affordable childcare would certainly go a long way to help ease the pressure on women's careers and help stimulate our economy.
Remote working opportunities
Lockdown gave so many of us the opportunity to really think about what was important, especially when it came to family life and careers. With remote working becoming more of a reality it opened up more career avenues that would have closed to many before, especially mums who were bound to a physical location due to childcare logistics. All of a sudden, as the job market improved, jobs hundreds of miles away or those with more flexibility became an option. For me, it gave me a real sense of clarity around my career and the type of values I hold at home and in the corporate world – this prompted me to change sectors and I’m now enjoying a new career challenge.
Like many other city dwellers we made the big decision to move away from the inner zones of London and move to the suburbs. Having more green space and being closer to family has had such a positive impact on us all. My heart honestly swells when I see the kids playing in the garden together.
Being a mum with a demanding job means at times it is chaos, but I feel so lucky over the past 15 months to have seen my children grow up, watch their personalities shine and catch moments that I may have missed in the old way of life. I really treasure the time I now have with my family but also the strides I’ve been able to make in my career. Every story time or mealtime feels like such a privilege and that means the world to me.
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