A Personal Take on Flexible Working

Ireland’s last CSO showed 464,000 women indicated their role as home duties. Research shows 32% of these have a degree or other qualification and in addition if they had the opportunity to find balanced work, more than 90% would return to the workforce. That is the crux. Many of us want to do both but not at the expense of family life.

I was chatting with someone recently about my career and I said “I’ve been lucky”. And I have. I had a good job, that I was able to go back to after having my family and the company tried to give me some degree of flexibility to help with that process. Not everyone gets that opportunity.

Despite all that I finally left the job. I had to. Flexibility and scaled back hours does not necessarily mean the workload is scaled back accordingly. I remember having a conversation with a female colleague shortly after my maternity leave. I admitted that while I was back at work with my ‘game’ face on, I was struggling and I was only half the person I should be at home. I arrived home late most evenings, my children on the cusp of going to bed. I calculated that I saw them on average 30 minutes each day. I felt guilty and I felt that I was failing at the most important role of my life. So, after much soul searching I made the decision to step away from my good job that paid me a decent salary and look for something else.

I wasn’t in a position to stay at home full time but to my frustration I was finding out that the work I had put into my career over the last 15-20 years wasn’t going to count for much. If I wanted something that would give me some semblance of a work life balance I had to take a big step down in terms of responsibility and a drastic step down in terms of salary.

I was told time and again that a part time role would be difficult to secure and if I was moving out of Dublin then my salary was definitely going to take a hit. While I accepted the latter I really hadn’t anticipated how much of a hit that would be. Ultimately, it was less important (for a while anyway) as when it came to accepting a new role, I had a choice between two jobs. One was relatively similar to what I had been doing but it would have been a move from the frying pan into the fire. I took option two, which I knew could only be a stop gap, but it gave me the time and space to get off the rollercoaster I had been on; commuting, traveling the country and seeing too little of my young family. I had figured out what priorities and my non-negotiables were. Doing that is half the battle.

One of the biggest challenges, I found, was there really wasn’t anyone out there to advise me. The recruitment firms I spoke with weren’t interested in a candidate who was looking for a part time role. I wasn’t sure where else I could get the support I needed. Then I came across ReganStein. I saw they looked to encourage professional women and men who had stepped away from their careers for family reasons, to step back in. They understood that many people in this position are not interested in returning to full-time employment. They have had successful careers and they want flexibility and work-life balance.

This is a very attractive and viable option for anyone looking to use their skills but to move away from the so called traditional 9-5 role that isn’t conducive to family life or achieving a work/life balance. The potential to take summer holidays off, or to travel for extended periods can be factored into roles accepted, bringing a better work-life balance and job satisfaction in the process. ReganStein can provide its handpicked panel of experts with all the advantages around family flexibility without sacrificing career opportunity.

Ciara Murphy – Operations Manager, ReganStein