Working dads can role model changes that will benefit all men
I went to my brother’s wedding yesterday. So what?
Well he only told me about it a few days previously. But because I work flexibly I was able to rejig my hours and my work and be at the ceremony. (If you’re wondering why it was so last minute, it was a Brexit thing.)
It made me grateful to work in a way that I can do that. Perhaps I shouldn’t feel lucky to work in a way that brings benefits to employee and employer. But I do. And talking to lots of other dads who work flexibly, as I inevitably do in this job, it’s clear that they feel the same way. Employees that feel well disposed to their employers don’t just do more and better work, they are the best advertisement any company can have. Seeing an ad on a billboard or on TV telling you of the wonders of any given firm is one thing, having someone actually tell you unbidden that their employers are all that is quite another, more powerful, thing.
If I worked in my old office job then there’s no way I’d have been able to take a half day off at such short notice. Or indeed to plan my work for the following day such that I could bake a hangover into my schedule. (Though having said that there was plenty of days when I was much younger that I’d spend a good few hours nursing a bottle of Irn Bru in the office library).
But it also brought into focus that flexible working is not just good for working dads. It has benefits for working sons and working brothers too (and obviously working mums, etc). And invariably they are one and the same person.
We may be working dads but we have other commitments, other important relationships as well as those we have with our children.
Having kids is an eye-opener, a life-changer, and it may be the trigger for a fundamental rethink of your priorities in life, and where work fits into that.
But embracing atypical working brings broader benefits.
Where working dads can make a real difference is in talking up positive aspects of working flexibly – whether that’s altering hours or working remotely. And doing so in a way that doesn’t directly relate to fatherhood can make others in your workplace consider whether it’s for them.
Perhaps the man who has older parents to look after is able could nip round their place to make their tea sometimes if he worked from home more often. Perhaps the man who doesn’t have children wants to take Fridays off to pursue his volunteering work. If they are able to work differently they’ll come to work happier, healthier and more productive. That’ll make the workplace a more pleasant place to be and it’ll help companies succeed.