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Global Day of Parents – Thinking Family Friendly

 Day of

The UN has designated 1 June the Global Day of Parents as an opportunity “to appreciate all parents for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship”.  Unfortunately such appreciation doesn’t come with a guarantee of an uninterrupted night’s sleep or a break from the demands of home schooling, which might be more welcomed by working parents currently juggling balancing work and child care through the lockdown. It is however an opportunity for businesses to think about their family friendly policies and how these can benefit both employer and employee.

Even before the sweeping public health safeguards introduced by the Government came into force, many employers were looking at ways to set themselves apart from the crowd and attract new talent, and this included promoting their family friendly policies, including agile and flexible working practices. 

The coronavirus pandemic forced companies to switch to remote working very quickly, and the ability to do this was critical in allowing parts of the economy to survive. As we start to emerge from the strictest measures of the lockdown, there is increasing talk of ‘the new normal’ and especially what this might look like for future working practices.

Facebook has announced that it expects half of its workforce to move to working outside of its offices, Twitter said that its employees could work at home “forever” if they wish, whilst over in New Zealand, the Prime Minster Jacinda Adern has talked about moving to a four day working week. 

Work-life balance and flexibility tend to feature highly on attributes that might attract employees to a certain company, and this is especially true for working parents and those with other caring responsibilities. However, a move to remote working also means that there is the potential for businesses to save money on expensive office space. Law firm Slater and Gordon has announced that it will move out of its London offices when the lease ends in September and instead look to find smaller office space suitable for hosting meetings with staff working remotely.

Research has already shown that creating enabling and flexible environments can enhance productivity, creativity and wellbeing in staff, and the internet is awash with articles of the positive feedback coming from employees about their new at home working arrangements.

Some studies have also been able to demonstrate that family friendly policies have led to a reduction in absenteeism and a lower turnover of staff, meaning cost savings for employers. These findings reflect that having flexible and family friendly policies can help in building and maintaining a sustainable business.

The lasting effects of the current pandemic remain to be seen but certainly it is forcing businesses to rethink the way they work. Of course, what we must remember is this is not ‘normal’ home working and, for the majority, it was imposed without the opportunity for proper planning. For working parents it has also meant trying to get in as many working hours as possible whilst teaching maths or meeting never ending snack demands; it just isn’t reflective of real life. Whilst the current lockdown has been something of a dress rehearsal for different ways of working, sustainable businesses looking to make a more permanent move to flexible working practices will need to think about ensuring that they have the right tools, structure and culture to ensure its success.

LexLeyton can help businesses to create strategies for developing and maintaining family friendly policies, including flexible and agile working plans, to benefit culture and sustainable growth. Contact us for a free consultation and to discuss how we can help.

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