Why Gingerbread has launched #FlexiWorkDay – and how you can get involved

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Working the traditional 9 to 5 isn’t for everyone. Picking up children from school, caring for friends and relatives and other personal needs,can be hard to fit around a rigid set of working hours, with many left of us left feeling like we’re trying to force a square peg through a round hole.

For the single parents we work with at Gingerbread this can be an all-too-familiar exercise. They are often the sole carers for their children which means the pressure to be in two places at once can be even more intense.  The persistence of the 9 to5, full-time working day  with fixed hours is forcing many parents to take-up part-time jobs, which generally pay less per hour than full time work – or keeping them out of work entirely.

Since 9 in 10 single parents are women, this is an issue which has a disproportionate impact on women. A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that over half of women aged 25-54 are working below their potential because there is a lack of full-time job opportunities that they can combine with looking after kids. And, in an age when employers and the government should be providing the support necessary to help couples share household responsibilities, men are also finding it difficult to juggle their responsibilities at home with paid work. CIPD found that 2 in 5 fathers have been put-off requesting flexible working arrangements because they don’t feel their workplace is supportive of flexible workers.

At Gingerbread, we don’t believe anyone should be locked-out of the career they aspire to, or forced to accept low-wages, just because we’ve been handed-down a traditional 8-hour working day. New technologies and new types of employment coupled with a growing awareness that a one-size-fits-all approach to work isn’t working are creating huge opportunities for flexible working, whether that involves job-shares, home working or other arrangements.

And the great thing is that it’s not just carers and parents that benefit from flexible working. Research shows that everyone stands to benefit when a workplace offers its staff the chance to work flexibly. In a poll of 2,200 business owners and managers by Regus, nine out of ten report that offering flexible working options has improved staff morale. Happier employees are more likely to feel engaged by their work: 50 per cent of businesses surveyed by the British Chamber of Commerce reported higher productivity levels after introducing flexible working arrangements. Improved work-life balance, more job openings, and less-time spent doing your best impression of a sardine on your commute to work – these are just some of the reasons to support flexible working.

And that’s why we’ve launched #FlexiWorkDay – a day dedicated to spreading these messages about the benefits of flexible working so that we can encourage more employers to take up the baton.

You can help us make our day of celebration a success. Take to twitter or Facebook on Friday 12th December and post your own example of how having the opportunity to work flexibly has made – or could make – a difference to your life, making using of the hashtag #FlexiWorkDay so that your message it is links-up with all the other tweets being sent out.

Thank you in advance for any support you can give! The more stories we can promote on the day the more powerfully we will be able to demonstrate the difference that flexible working can make to employers and employees alike.

Here’s a starter tweet that you can use on the day to get you going.

For more information on #flexiworkday and how you can get involved, head to our website.

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Octavia Holland
Octavia is the Director of Policy, Advice, and Communications at Gingerbread.

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