Sometimes a thing happens and you’re like yes! I’m in the right place in my life. Recently that thing for me was to be included in the M2 Woman magazine – in a feature called Inspiring Voices – 18 Women Creating Change in 2018 about creating change, flexible working, and business mentoring.
The best, coolest thing was being alongside amazing kick-ass women like Gin Wigmore, Alison Mau, Zoe Bell, Lisa King from ‘Eat my Lunch’, Chloe Swarbrick, the list is crazaay!!!! Like seriously whaaaaat! All women who see things that need to change and commit to being the change they want to see in the world, using their voices and inspiring others to do the same.
I wanted to expand on the piece, (I have a lot to say, ok) so here’s the longer version for you.
Why it is so important that women have the opportunity of flexible working options
No one should have to sacrifice their caring/parenting role to fulfill their career path, or vice versa.
Secondly, it’s important because (when they fail to provide flexible working solutions for women), businesses miss out on a huge pool of talent, unwittingly encouraging more and more women to vote with their feet and exit the corporate world.
To attract and retain this pool of talent, businesses need to do more than just provide flexitime, this is no longer cutting it. What’s required is a total paradigm shift away from measuring hours, to measuring results. Away from an ‘asking permission’’ culture to one of complete autonomy. However, sadly, the workplace model on the whole, (just like the industrial schooling model) has hardly evolved since the 1950s, when it was designed for men.
Flexible Working – the advantages
How we can all benefit
Flexible working is positive for the business, great for the workers and their families, and beneficial for the environment. It doesn’t take a genius to see that flexible working can contribute to stronger, healthier, happier communities; a more engaged and productive workforce can more creative, agile, innovative workplaces.
Studies from abroad show that when workplaces actually walk the talk, let go of the old style of top-down, hierarchical management, and start trusting the people they’ve hired, results are: a boost in staff morale, increased staff engagement leading to reduced staff turnover/churn (resulting in lower recruiting & training costs), higher participation in healthy behaviours such as gym attendance, and greater loyalty and productivity, not to mention reduced spend on office premises, reduced carbon footprint and strain on already thickly congested motorways. It’s a win-win. I’d go even further to say it’s a triple win – what’s often not talked about – is the benefit for children. Children are impacted by parental stress levels, and this is the little-known but hugely important benefit of giving people control over their schedules and of a more natural flow and synergy between ‘life’ and ‘work’.
People, Planet, Profit
How cool would it be if every company, instead of simply measuring growth and profit, instead measured themselves on outcomes for people first, then impact on the planet, then profit. People of all ages are beginning to demand more of their employers, and flexible working is just one of those expectations. Consumers are more and more beginning to choose carefully with whom they elect to spend their hard-earned dollars, as they question the ‘profit first’ model, especially as it relates to the multinational giants. Consumers are starting to demand more corporate social responsibility from MNCs, and choosing to spend their dollars on those companies that do provide transparency and accountability. Hence we’re seeing a myriad of small businesses and social enterprises emerging that answer the demand for ethical and sustainable businesses, both to work for and to spend with.
As a working Mum with young children, I experienced the impossible pressure of trying to juggle the needs of my family against the inflexible demands of the workplace. I remember picking up a magazine in a bookstore once, and reading an article about the work-family struggles of a well-known TV presenter, then prompty bursting into tears in the shop, because she articulated exactly what I was feeling. It’s hard, especially if you don’t have access to support, like grandparents nearby to help out or nannies or cleaners to help in the home. Yet work structures often don’t take any of this into account and certainly don’t consider the needs of children who can often spend an 8 hour day or more, in daycare. I started championing for flexible working because it’s not even necessary to structure work the way we do, it’s totally outdated and time for change.
What I’m hoping to achieve in 2018
Continue to question the status quo, to educate and inspire businesses and people to make the world a better place, and help more people transition from a job they don’t love to a lifestyle they dreamed of but didn’t think possible, through my business advisory, Intentio Business Design.
I’m very future-focussed and hyper aware that people shouldn’t be solely reliant on their job in the long term. Having your own independent means to aquire income is super important. If you don’t have that already, now is a great time to start a little side-gig and dip your toes in, practice the skills required. You never know when you’ll need to be financially self-sufficient and most people have some skill they can offer others.
As a result of the lack of flexible working options for women, more and more they are opting out of rigid, inflexible, unfulfilling employment to create their own businesses and enjoy the lifestlye and financial freedoms this can offer.
If I can help even just one person go from dreading Sunday nights, hating Monday mornings & feeling like life is passing them by while they sell their life, – to having time freedom to do the things they love, be with the people they love and get paid for doing what they are genius at, on their own terms, I’ll be absolutely delighted. I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible kill the 9-5, quit the commute, or at least kick start their side hustle.
Changes I would like to see happen in the world sooner rather than later
School is the training ground for work, and needs to change first, before we will see any real, deep, lasting changes in the workplace.
Obviously I want to see more workplaces that put people before profit and that measure results not time, but also I want to see the school system evolve. Schools are amazing, teachers are wonderful, but the industrial model is no longer relevant, no matter how they try to dress it up. I see the system trying to innovate by including certain ‘new’ ideas but it’s very difficult to be truly innovative from within a very embedded institutional ideology and restrictive culture. Increasingly people who know there are better ways are finding and creating their own solutions. We will definately see more and more independent, ‘alternatve’ learning centres open up over time – centres of discovery, experimentation hubs, that bring in experts, remove the ‘teaching’ model, remove all compulsory testing & standards, and mix up age groups. School is the training ground for work, and needs to change first, before we can see any real, deep, lasting changes in the workplace. Flexible schooling has to happen before flexible working will feel ‘normal’.
Most life-changing moment so far
The moment our 17 year old announced he was moving out shook me to my core. We knew he was ready to go, but it still put a giant record scratch in the playlist of my life and made me realise life is NOW. Happiness is NOW. What are we waiting for, retirement? death? butt cancer? eerccch!!
We stopped living the life we thought we were supposed to have (but didn’t truly enjoy), changed literally EVERYTHING, and started doing the things we’d always wanted to. We made some biiig changes, and some not so big, too numerous to mention, but essentially, I quit my job, and turned down a ‘dream job’ offer to focus full-time on Intentio, then my ‘side’ business. We pared our possessions down to the bare minimum, sold our house and took the kids on a 6 week trip to Europe. So priceless to share time and experiences with them, literally a dream come true (not without putting in some seriously hard graft and a side of sacrifice, but totally worth it).
Fast forward to now, I work from home, in my PJs if I want, run the dog on the beach most days, & work with truly amazing people, doing work I adore. BOOM! Life:changed.
For those flirting with this kind of change, who need some courage I recommend –
A: pretend you have butt cancer (or if you prefer, that you are going to be abducted by aliens, sometime in the very near future, but you don’t know when) and time is running out. Quick! Top 10 must dos. DO THEM!
B: read these 2 books… The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
and the unrelated but similar, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do (A No F*cks Given Guide)
(And to see me in complete dorky nerd mode, and experience my amazing (ly bad) editing skillzzz – watch my short ‘Snack size Biz Tips’ video about it here
Biggest challenges when it comes to making a change
When you finally reach inspirational dissatisfaction … then fear suddenly gets out of your way, & you just become unstoppable.
The biggest challenge for anyone facing change is fear. Doubt and fear stop so many people in their tracks & we tell ourselves all kinds of stories to justify our inaction (stories like …it’s been done before, I don’t really know what I’m doing, who am I to be doing this…etc.). But when you finally reach inspirational dissatisfaction (i.e. shit just got so bad you simply can’t stand it any longer), then fear suddenly gets out of your way, & you just become unstoppable. Best advice here is – just rip the band aid off before you overthink it too much. (Disclaimer: We love your passion and the fire in your belly, yes, make a change, Viva la revolution, get your Mel Gibson on – FREEDOMMMM!!!, BUT please don’t up and quit your day job without a proper plan! Smart girls be prepared, yo!)
What really matters to me
Making the world a better place. #MTWBP (thanks Dr Adam Claasen for this). Everyone can do this in their own way. My way of doing this is to raise my children to be tolerant of others, kind to those they encounter, and to do what they love. (I wrote a post about that for International Women’s Day – read it here). I’m incredibly fortunate in so many ways (to be born in NZ, to be able to pursue education as a woman, and live a free life, also bacon and maple cupcakes) and giving back is important to me, which is why I volunteer my time with Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ). BMNZ is dedicated to supporting the success and growth of small businesses through the knowledge and experience of volunteer mentors. It is incredibly fulfilling and a fantastic step for business owners. If you have a new business idea or are looking for help with starting a new business, or if you need some confidential one-on-one business advice, check out the BMNZ website here.
Lessons learned from being a business mentor and undertaking research into the future of work
From my own personal experience, and from my work with other courageous female entrepreneurs, I know that the first steps are often the the hardest – and fortunately the antidote to that is that action trumps fear.
When it comes to the future of work, it’s clear that change scares people and therefore they fight to maintain things the way they know, and that feel familiar to them (often even though it’s not in their best interests to do so). We need thought leaders who can clearly articulate the benefits of ‘new’ approaches to flexible working and reassure people at the same time. It’s shocking how little has really changed (eg. pay equity, flexible workplaces) despite our increased knowledge, I’m constantly surprised by how deeply ingrained and commonly accepted some really outdated and clearly disfunctional ideas and practices are.
A surprising number of people share my sentiments about the need for flexible working options but feel too intimidated to speak up and demand better, for fear of ‘rocking the boat’. It makes me even more determined to enlighten firms and empower women. It’s time. It’s the voice of dissent and represents many. Those who speak out against the status quo often find themselves sidelined & bullied, it’s why people don’t speak out. As an independent voice I have the ability to say what I want, stimulate discussion, and ultimately, instigate change.
Women that inspire me
The amaaaazing kick-ass women in this magazine! Strong, smart, courageous women who face fear & work through it, who manage really demanding situations, tackle complicated conversations instead of taking the easy route, graciously deal with the naysayers, the haters, trolls & well meaning but ill-informed friends & family who don’t really understand – women who achieve things they once thought impossible. Those are the kind of people my clients are, the kind of people I want to hang out with, people who think outside the square, challenge boundaries, think critically, and have the guts and grit to be themselves. I’m inspired by my clients every day.
My Message to Women
Make 2018 YOUR year. And the year after that. Do what you love. Don’t take any shit. Make a transition plan. Ask for what you need and want. Get support. It is possible.
Professional challenger of the status quo, free-spirited unschooler, Queen of neglect when it comes to all things skincare even though she worked in the beauty industry, and co-founder of Intentio Business Design.
No one should have to sacrifice their caring/parenting role to fulfill their career path, or vice versa