Andrew is the Solutions Director in our UK Services Business. He and his team develop tailored delivery solutions for new customers and for existing customers looking for a change of approach. During 2016, he played an instrumental role in extending our relationship with Nationwide Building Society until at least 2024, by which point we will have been working with this key customer for over 15 years. Andrew is also one of the founding members of our Working Dads’ Network. He shares his story about the benefits of flexible working as a father, while still succeeding in his career.
When my wife was due to go back to work at the end of maternity leave, I applied for a flexible working agreement that would allow me to share the childcare duties and ultimately spend more time with my son.
I was terrified at the prospect of balancing life and work to make sure I could see him during the week and decided that unless I was structured and deliberate in my approach, I was likely to fail. The way I saw it, I had two options; I could either fight to spend an hour each evening with my little one before his bedtime, which with my commuting pattern would have been incredibly challenging, or find another way to create quality time with him.
Flexible Working had only recently been made widely available in Carillion and I thought that my line manager would probably freak out when he received my application, but I also knew he was a fundamentally nice guy and that our relationship was strong enough that we could discuss it openly and sensibly.
I discussed with my wife what the best outcome for us would look like and decided that freeing up a morning or an afternoon each week to spend with him would work well. I can honestly say that I have worked as hard and delivered as much (if not more!) over the last two years with this flexible working agreement in place. I come back to work with a passion and vigour that would have been absent if my son and I had not just spend the morning at the library and the swings.
What does this mean for me personally?
In my experience you have to take personal responsibility for making your flexible working agreement work. The business isn’t likely to stand in your way but neither will it be able to solve all the problems you may face for you.
Occasionally, I have needed to adopt a slightly pragmatic view and give up my ‘dad time’ on Thursday mornings every once in a while. For example if my boss organises our team meeting for a Thursday I make arrangements to be there; if he or she did it every month then I would probably discuss it with them, but if it happens once in a while and is planned well in advance then I’m ok with that.
All in all, I have been so pleased how my team and management have supported my working pattern and I have been able to plan days with my son without many clashes or interruptions. I would encourage any parent looking for the same flexibility as myself to look into flexi-time – I don’t know where I would be without it.
Two years from now, my son will be starting school and who knows how my circumstances will have changed between now and then, but it is reassuring to know that the flexible working policy gives me the opportunity to change back or change again to strike a balance that I am comfortable with between being the colleague I want to be and the Dad I want to be.