Bright Ideas

Flexible Working

Debbie Smith

Talent & Operations Manager

  - [email protected]

This week, our amazingly talented ‘Talent and Operations Manager’, Debbie, takes centre stage on the website and gives us the low down on how our unique approach to flexible working has helped her settle into parenthood!


Debbie Smith

Talent & Operations Manager

[email protected]

Returning from maternity leave can be a really hard time. The guilt of becoming a working parent is twofold. The fear is that you won’t perform in either of your roles. Returning parents, just like many other workers, need support from their employer to ensure that their work/life balance works for both sides.

Flexible Working: work, balance, fun, life, family and love written on arrows pointing in different directionsI was naively shocked at the experiences of friends when their requests for flexibility were either denied or counter-offered to a much less paid role (with even lower prospects) and left them no option but to find employment elsewhere. Hello it’s 2018?!

As you can imagine working in a busy creative agency and knowing the demands this can bring, I was nervous about asking for a 4-day working week when returning from mat leave.

Luckily, I work at a place that’s more up-to-date than most. Our board of directors is made up of parents who all know the daily struggle of balancing childcare, a busy life and doing well in your job. After a meeting with one of them, and a discussion of how it would work, my request was quickly accepted with the mutual agreement that this would do nothing to hinder my progression within the company.

Baby sitting on a chair on holiday in the sun

What else was great is that whilst I was on my ‘baby vacation’ (the least relaxing vacation you can imagine), fresh shook-up their roster of benefits and introduced ‘flexible working’ which has been amazing, not just for me as a parent, but everyone across all teams.

This isn’t just ‘flexi-time’ where we start early and finish early or bank extra hours to take off at a later date. This is so much more… well… flexible than that. Your car is in the garage – no problem, get to the office when you can; you’re getting a washing machine delivered – no problem, work from home.

The only rule we have to follow is that we focus on team autonomy and the end result – if the client is happy, your team is happy and deadlines are met, then working from home or flexible hours is all good. It centres around our one core value, trust. Although it’s nothing new in the grand scheme of things, genuine flexible working with trust built in definitely is. It’s the attitude of the business that makes this work.

Debbie sitting at home on the sofa with a cat on her laptopHaving an employer that understands life occasionally has to take precedence but still knows that you’re working your best is pretty rare and frankly so motivating. I want to work hard when I’m working, so that I don’t feel like I’m letting the team down when I’m not.

As a parent who sometimes has to take a baby to the Drs, or has childcare that falls through, it’s wonderful to be allowed to focus on my child, guilt-free, instead of feeling like I have to be sat at my desk showing that I’m working.

Life would be a lot harder if it weren’t for this flexibility and returning to work even more so. fresh are definitely leading the way in showing it’s possible to let employees get the most out of both work and life.

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