I’m self-employed and that is for many reasons but the biggest is I struggle to find a workplace in my industry (the media) that is truly family friendly.
When you are juggling work and family it is hard to be tied to a desk from 9 – 5, five days a week. You need flexibility and while that seems to be the catch phrase for many work places being ‘family friendly’ can often be harder than they think.
Here are my top 5 observations of the ‘so-called’ Family Friendly Workplace.
- Meetings happen whether they need you there or not
Your work hours are your own. Don’t expect your fellow employees to adhere to them too. One workplace I was at had staff meetings on days I couldn’t work. When I asked the manager to consider changing days, she asked me to switch childcare days. Oh if it were only that simple!
Anyone who uses childcare would know, once you’re in it’s not an endless selection of times and days to choose from.
Quite often meetings you need to be present at will happen on days you’re not there. Sure we could all do with a few less meetings in our life but when it is necessary for you to be there, your colleagues should make sure you are.
- Do you mind working back?
Working back late is one of those things I whimsically reminisce about when I reflect on my wild single days. Long gone are the days when I could sit in my office ploughing away until 8 or 9 o’clock.
When you become a parent at some point you have to pick your kids up from school, kindy or childcare. And that’s preferably before dinner. Being asked to work back is not about dedication to your job but really about unmanageable workloads.
- No personal calls at work
I’ve never really understood that idea that the moment you walk in to an office they own you.
An emergency is an emergency and for a 3 year old that could be a splinter or just missing mum. Dealing with these things is just who we are. We should be allowed to talk these calls and deal with them. I’d much rather take 10 minutes to deal with it instead of spending my whole day worrying about that missed call I can’t return til I leave the office.
Of course there are boundaries but working under an expectation that all of your employees will exploit picking up a personal call is a bit unfair.
- We need to do some networking
Business often means getting to know other people’s business. But why does that always have to happen after hours with alcohol?
So many times I have had to miss out on crucial networking and marketing events because they insist on doing it during ‘dinner, bath and bed time’. What’s wrong with lunch? If it is only going to take an hour or so I’m sure we can squeeze it in to the middle of the day.
When I first started working in advertising there was a joke that all the male managers made business deals on the golf course. Some days I think it just shifted from the golf course to the bar.
- By the way we are worth it….
Very often you will see the gender pay gap is due to women working part time so they can juggle family commitments. It means we get paid pro-rata and less than our male counterparts. To break this gap we need to not only be paid more annually we need higher pro-rata rates.
So now I work for myself and while that comes with its own work life balance issues it does mean I can run my own ‘family friendly’ workplace tailored to me.
How about you?
Louise’s media career began over 20 years ago in radio. Since then she has worked in Australia and the United Kingdom as a Producer and Journalist. Her documentaries have been seen on televisions across Europe, the US and the UK. As a freelance journalist she is published locally and nationally in both print and online. Her feature documentary, Sons & Mothers was released in 2013, has won multiple awards including two AACTA Awards. You can catch her blogging at louisepascale.com.au and tweeting at @loupascale