Let’s Get F******** Working

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Have you dropped the F bomb at work? I have. And it did me – and my bosses – a whole lot of good.

I’m talking about ‘flexible working’, and it can be an explosive subject. I learnt recently that 68% of us would like to ask for flexible working, but only 12% actually have. So why the self-censorship?

Is it because:

  1. A) Flexible working is seen as a parent-only perk, allowing mums and dads to slink off early?
  2. B) Any deviation from 9-5 results in a chorus of “part-timer” catcalls?
  3. C) ‘Working from home’ rarely comes without the quotation marks?

For many of us, it’s ‘D’ – all of the above.

I certainly felt that way when I went back to copywriting in an ad agency after maternity leave. But, emboldened by my stint in the real world and the delirium of sleep deprivation, I asked if I could do a combination of working from home, split days, and oh, can I have one day off completely please. Aim high, then negotiate. And then they only went and bloody agreed.

This was brilliant for me. I got home at 4.30 so I could spend a bit of time with the sprog before getting her off to bed and getting back on the laptop. And on my day off I could go ‘full-mum’, taking her to classes and going to Bluewater the swimming pool. I was lucky.

But, my company was lucky too.

They say if you want something done, ask a busy person. I say, ask a busy mum. Time spent looking after a needy newborn, then a terrorist toddler, is a crash course in multi-tasking. When any minute to yourself is precious, your productivity skyrockets. Before you know it, hoovering the whole house takes five minutes. Getting ready to go out, two. Stuffing down five chocolate digestives (lunch), even less. We learn to do stuff fast. We learn to decide what’s important and sack off what isn’t. Because WE HAVE TO.

So by the time you go back to work, you’ve upskilled. You’re better at negotiating, prioritising. And you’re so much more productive because oh my god you get a lot done when you need to leave ABSOLUTELY ON TIME to relieve frazzled grandparents or dodge a hefty nursery ‘late’ fine. Plus, the guilt can make you over-compensate massively. Five days workload for four days pay? Absolutely.

It was a pretty sweet deal for them and me.

But I appreciate I’m in a hugely privileged position. My company – iris – properly look after their staff, with a brilliant benefits package. And in the ad world it’s possible to work flexibly without making too much impact on everyone else. The same can’t be said for nurses, teachers, receptionists, shop workers. Or anyone in a more traditional workplace.

That’s why, when a brief to make an ad campaign for flexible-working champions Digital Mums popped into my inbox, I jumped at it.

They’re on a mission to Clean Up The F Word. It’s been three years since the ‘right to request’ flexible working came into law – but culturally we’re not buying it. Their goal is to change flexibility being seen as an employee perk to a mutual back-scratching arrangement. And it starts by putting pressure on the government to redefine flexible working – officially.

So our big campaign is out now – have you seen it? It’s turning the air blue across the UK with digital posters along motorways, in shopping malls and post offices. And across social media, people are taking up the rally cry to ‘get f******* working’.

So, if any of what I’ve said here rings true, please join us and

So, if any of what I’ve said here rings true, please join us and sign the petition to Clean Up The F Word . It’s a really important step towards more of us working flexibly. And that works for everyone.

Mummy’s Gin Fund are running workshops in September to help you find a flexible job that makes the most of your talents. We will also be teaching you how to start your own business.
Full details here: https://www.mummysginfund.co.uk/invest-in-yourself-this-september/
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Founder of MGF, Helen is a mum of four who spends way too much time on the interweb and not enough time in bed. She loves wearing her dressing gown, car boot sales and watching TV programmes featuring food. Her specialist subjects include 'how to overfill your car boot' and 'how to avoid dusting'. Follow her at Twitter: @Ginfund, Facebook: @MGFund, Instagram: @mummysginfund and online: www.mummysginfund.co.uk.

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