Flexible working doesn’t have to be formal

Ed Briggs works regular hours, but he benefits from an informal flexible working arrangement that recognises family comes first

Ed Briggs

 

Recent figures found very few dads working flexibly. But there’s more to that than meets the eye. The official stats only record men who have formal flexible working arrangements. Lots more dads have informal flexible working arrangements. That means their contract might not detail flexible hours and conditions but they have an understanding with their boss.

Ed Briggs, a bid manager at Cambridge Maintenance Services, is one of those dads. Since his son Hugo came along earlier this year he’s been able to work when and where he needs to if his family commitments require it.

He told us about his set up and why he’d recommend more employers and employees consider embracing flexible working.

What’s your job and who do you work for?

Bid Manager for Cambridge Maintenance Services Limited – A nationwide supplier of facilities maintenance services with over 34 years’ experience delivering mechanical and engineering building services maintenance to the corporate, healthcare, education, retail, transport and manufacturing sectors across the UK.

What family have you got?

My partner Helen and a 7 month old boy named Hugo.

What’s your flexible working schedule?

I am currently contracted for 37.5 hours a week. My standard day is 8:30 – 5:00 in the office which coincides with my partners shifts. However I work from home as and when required.

What made you want to work flexibly?

I never had the desire to have flexible working, but since becoming a father I have found it is an advantageous benefit to my job.

How did you go about making it happen? How did your employer react when you suggested it?

Bid Management has always had the flexibility of working from home. A lot of Bid Manager roles are actually home-based. The flexibility for myself has evolved since my partner’s pregnancy.

We both work for the same company and as our place of work is closer to the hospital than our home, we were both working up to the due date. The day before our due date my partner started her maternity leave and I was instructed to work from home.

Since then I have been utilising the flexibility of the role as and when required. The company is very family orientated.

How has it made your life better/easier?

It has helped becoming a parent (for both of us) a lot easier. Our boy is in full time nursery so if there is any issues with sickness I am able to take him home or stay at home with him.

My partner also has to travel a lot in her role, so days where she is not in the office I’m able to arrive and leave to fit around Hugo’s day.

Has it made you a better dad?

It’s certainly allowed me to be more of a hands-on dad and that probably makes me a better dad. And knowing that I can do what I need to do to to fit around my family reduces some of that potential stress and you can’t put a price on that.

Any drawbacks or hiccups that needed to be overcome?

There are drawbacks and/or hiccups in flexible working but none of which are unexpected.

Any one that has had a child will realise that it is very difficult to work from home and take responsibility of a child. The first two weeks of Hugo being born, it was very easy as I set up a Moses basket next to my desk and always had a bottle to hand.

However that ended pretty quickly as he has become more alert and started demanding a lot of attention. The chances of writing a proposal whilst solely responsible for a 7 month old are very slim.

This is where the flexibility kick in. I will end up working into the night when Hugo goes to sleep. This does mean a lot of late nights, early mornings and working weekends, but it’s worth it.

Advice for anyone else considering working flexibly?

Flexible working is a two way street. If your work does not require you to be sat in an office 9-5, be prepared to work when everybody else is not.

Advice for any employer wary of going down the flexible route?

Flexible working is a desirable benefit which has a positive effect on staff retention. I would think twice about ever leaving this job because flexibility is such a rewarding bonus. But it does require a lot of trust.





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