Author: Emma McKale, Marketing Manager at Cutitronics
When I was coming to the end of my maternity leave in 2017, I knew I wanted a role that would allow me to get back into the world of marketing whilst also being flexible enough so I could still be around for my young children. Luckily, Cutitronics’ commercial director Wilma McDaniel approached me about a marketing role with this innovative beauty technology company.
I knew straight away this was the right career move for me. I was really excited about the opportunity to be involved in a start-up business, being able to define not just my own role but having the chance to really contribute to the direction of the business. The best part? I could do this all working part-time around my own schedule.
As a marketing professional, it is our role to be the voice of the customer within the business. We’re uniquely placed to work alongside the technology teams to ensure that what we’re developing internally reflects trends and demand within the marketplace.
Due to the great company culture at Cutitronics, I have learned a lot about the benefits of working flexibily and feel supported in advocating for others. Here is why I truly believe it should be the new norm and how I make it work for me:
One size doesn’t fit all
The days of fixed office hours are coming to an end. Flexibility is coming to the fore from both employers and employees, and both need to be willing to adapt and accept compromise where necessary.
Everyone has different personal responsibilities such as children, aging parents or needy pets that are all equally important. In order to attract and retain the best talent, companies must recognise that the best candidates might also be those that cannot commit to working 40+ hours a week.
Personally, throughout my career I have found myself working in retail and office-based roles so have worked most shift patterns imaginable! In today’s hyper-connected world, we’re always ’switched-on’ and available. Mobile devices and apps for everything have enabled us to work from home (and even our beds), which means we are in the fortunate position where flexible working should be easier than ever before.
Before I had children, there were no constraints on my time. If I needed to stay late to finish a task, attend a last-minute event or travel on business to Europe for a few days, I had the luxury of being able to do just that. These days, I have commitments which mean I need to leave work on-time and I can’t just travel to Europe at the drop of a hat (much as I would love to sometimes!).
People’s responsibilities change over time and companies need to be able to accommodate big life milestones such as having children. By offering flexible working as the norm, companies will be able to retain talent for a longer time.
I know my children won’t be little forever, so for now it’s about striking that balance between feeling fulfilled by my career choices and being present for my children and making memories with them. And when they are bigger, I can perhaps get back to Europe more regularly!
A trusted team is a productive team
We are lucky at Cutitronics that the company culture is open, relaxed and supportive. We trust each other and know that everyone is doing their best work.
Teams need to feel trusted to carry out their roles without being micro-managed by their employers, and vice versa, employers need to feel reassured that employees are committed to their roles and the business as a whole.
So long as the work is being done, then does it really matter whether that’s 9-5 or 12-7? Flexible working offers greater opportunities for us to support our consumers too. As a company entering the global beauty industry, our clients will be working across time zones and we will need to be in a position to support that.
We have a shared vision of what we’re setting out to achieve and are pulling together using our separate areas of expertise to deliver on that vision. We’re all here for the journey and the shared experience of being part of something new and potentially ground-breaking. We could not do that without trust.
Flexibility actually gives more control
Since having children my priorities have certainly changed and they have given me a different perspective on life. I’ve found that it’s often a case of adjustment and readjustment because things change all the time. And I’m slowly learning to be okay with not being in control of everything.
Take the situation we’ve all been thrown into over the last few months, we are all now working remotely and it has strongly demonstrated the power of flexible working.
We’ve achieved great things as a team, working remotely and across all hours of the day. Flexible working empowers people to make decisions that are right for them and their circumstances.
Under normal circumstances, I would be working part-time between Tuesday and Thursday. However, now working from home with my children also in the house, they don’t really understand the concept of “office hours” so expecting to sit in front of a laptop for 8 hours undisturbed is unrealistic. I try to work around key times when the children really need me, and then pick up work in the evenings once they go to bed or before they get up in the morning.
Having already had the flexibility in place with my employers, I was able to make this transition fairly easily and it was one less thing I needed to worry about. I have been able to continue my work and felt more in control in this uncertain time.
Creating your own work life balance
The biggest benefit of flexible working has to be the ability to dictate your own work life balance. However, it is still not easy and my top tip would be - it is all about planning, preparation and organisation!
It doesn’t sound very fun when you write it down, but with my own schedule and that of two young children to manage, there’s really no other way to try and maintain balance in any aspect of my life without that.
I do this to ensure that my days in the office are productive, so that I don’t have to spend too much extra time catching up at home. Having said that, some tasks can actually be done more easily at home, away from the distractions of a busy office. It really is about finding your own personal balance about what works for you.
Carrying out the planning and prep early on means I can relish the days that I spend away from work with my children. It’s also important that I have some me-time scheduled in too, whether that’s catching up with a friend for coffee or dinner, attending an after-work event or heading to outdoor fitness classes.
Being able to work flexibly really does offer the opportunity to find the art and beauty in balancing what is important in life.
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