Sid Madge is founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) which draws on the best...read more
John Flynn works a four day week for Schneider Electric. He urges other dads to think about working flexibly and find out how keen employers are to embrace it.
Energy is key to family life for John Flynn.
When’s he’s not maintaining power supplies for Schneider Electric at work he’s using up a different sort of energy in the great outdoors with his family.
Working flexibly for John means a four day week. That of course means less income for the family. But it means more time together pursuing their many hobbies.
He and wife Shauna are keen scuba divers and snowboarders. His boys Finnian (6) and two-year-old Faolan are involved in soccer, swimming, karate, rugby and Gaelic football.
Then there’s all the time they all spend in the great outdoors around their Dublin home.
John has Mondays off and Shauna has Fridays off. He explains, “I suppose with all parents out there the challenge of juggling day to day life nowadays is a treacherous one. It’s constantly changing, tears, laughter & the odd raised voice – we’re only human! We have seen this as a time we cannot reverse.
“Financially it’s harder, I won’t lie. Myself and Shauna have both taken a 40% cut over our combined earnings, we do feel the pressure. But we gain a lot from the time with our children.”
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As in so many cases working flexibly was born of necessity for John. A fulfilling family life and a demanding full time job didn’t quite gel.
But his bosses at Schneider Electric were entirely open to accommodating whatever worked for the family.
John’s job as a UPS engineer means the job is to some extent 24/7. The UPS stands for Uninterruptable Power Supply. He and his colleagues must ensure critical power systems for hospitals, data centres and the like stay on. But it meant that it was a role ripe for flexibility. “The nature of the business that I’m part of actually allows me to be a bit of a freelance engineer,” he explains. “My role is quite flexible and this was a factor in my decision. I can now take extra work out of hours if needed. Our industry is a 24/7-365 days a year, so flexibility actually is in my favour.”
Seeing Shauna working flexibly and enjoying her four day week after Finnian was born got John thinking about doing something similar. Crucially, both his direct managers at Schneider were supportive. That suggests it’s a firm at which a flexible working culture is embedded.
“My Mondays now I really look forward to. I get to bring my eldest to school and spend the day with Faolan normally on the back of my push bike exploring different tasks for him to do and seeing the beautiful area we live in.”
Everyone wins. John enjoys spending time with this boys and he reckons it makes him a better employee too. He has to be more focussed to fit everything in to four days of work. And flexibility is a two way street. The nature of John’s work means occasionally he’s called in on a Saturday. But with both employee and employer on board with his flexible set up he doesn’t resent that at all.
He says getting his flex was “no hassle”. And that’s why he’s a strong believer that others ought to get on board.
There are clear wins in terms of productivity and loyalty for employers. “Once you work out a system nobody loses,” he says.
And he reckons other dads might be surprised at what their employers are willing to offer. Many men daren’t ask for flexible working for fear it’ll impact their career or how their bosses see them. In fact lots of employers are happy to embrace the flexible future.
He says, “If you are considering flexible working, do approach your managers and your peers with an open mind. I was very surprised at the flexibility I was afforded. You would be surprised what you can achieve.”