Just a flex machine
We’ve flash mobbed, we’ve talked, we’ve emoji-ed, we’ve DM-ed, we’ve hugged it out and we’ve worked out there is a gargantuan problem when it comes to flexible working in the UK. Talent (specifically female) is getting lopped out of the workforce due to an archaic ‘bums on seats’ mentality instead of looking towards productivity. And our Flex Appeal is all about, well, flexing this up.
While 2016 was about proving that issue exists. (Just clap eyes on the government’s Working Forward pledge – 86% of businesses believe they work flexibly, while 77% of women face maternity discrimination or lose their jobs dues to inflexibility). This year is time to look towards solutions – for both employers, employees and those who have ditched the 9-5 in favour of going it alone.
Cue our brilliant partner for the Flex Appeal campaign, Regus – the global flexible office space to suit every business need. I ditched the 9-5 last year and while working for yourself is great in so many ways, there are times when you find yourself stagnating in a onesie, wondering why the line between home and work has become so blurred. (A low point was finding a soggy cheerio embedded in my keyboard).
One week working at Regus London Bridge (think cool, modern, fresh non-business-ey surrounds) and I was back on track, humming Dolly Parton’s 9-5 ironically and getting stuff done in a way that my familial abode just wouldn’t allow. (When I’m about to settle down to work, I suddenly start to see ‘all the things’ I haven’t done – overflowing laundry baskets, wonky fridge magnets… anything, really to dodge those tax returns.)
To be honest, when Regus first approached me, I felt like it might not be a perfect fit – surely office space was a huge overhead? I’m just a one-(wo)man band with a chirping toddler to feed and a sketchy business plan. But bulldoze down those misconceptions – this is a proper space, bricks, mortar ‘n’ all that can adjust itself to your business – however large or small.
My all-singing, all-dancing solo show was catered for with a flexible pay-as-you-go rate (from £9* a day). Something as simple as having a business address can change someone’s opinion of what you do – transporting it from kitchen-run mummy blog to potential digital empire with employees swathed in neon Lycra at all times. (There would also be a Skittle dispenser in the corner – one must dream). More importantly, it made me take it more seriously and structure my day in a way that allowed me to be a mother, founder and occasional pan scrubber without them all melding together in one unproductive mess.
But what does this partnership mean for you? Other than showing you there’s a flexible working home/ bosomy hug for those of us who have taken the leap away from the 9-5 into the freelancing or start-up unknown?
Regus will be supporting us through the first quarter of 2017 to offer space for flexible working talks we’ll be running, provide free trials of their services to new start-ups (keep an eye on our Instagram for how to get involved) that might be struggling with using their home as an office and helping us with relevant research into the issue of flexible working in the UK and the ways to offer solutions. They’ll also be our partner for all Flex Appeal flash mobs we run across the UK this quarter.
Other than providing flexible office space, they’re also one of the most flexible employers we’ve come across. Despite getting requests from companies wanting to be part of our Flex Appeal (and promising they offer up the goods), we’ve only championed three businesses so far: Digital Mums, Deloitte and now Regus. The reason? When you dig deeper (Matt, @papa_pukka, and I interviewed 25 mothers and fathers at all three companies off-record to get the lay of the land, along with detailed HR input), the reality doesn’t always match up.
Through Regus, we will be showing other companies how flexible working actually works. What it practically means to offer up flexibility to your employees – the peaks and the troughs. To do that we’ll be bringing you practical case studies from Regus’ employees highlighting the vast reasons people need flex in their working life and how employers can match those needs – and, most importantly make more dosh.
Whether mother, father, carer, stamp collector or pug breeder, this is a human issue and Regus, along with Deloitte and Digital Mums is leading the charge. We’re delighted to have their support for the Lycra-swathed ride.
More than anything, no mama is an island.
Working it out
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, Regus’ 3,000 centres across 120 countries will have a space that can let your business grow without edging into your kitchen.
*day prices vary across each Regus location. Check your nearest location out for exact rates.
Written by: Anna Whitehouse.