Mum’s the Word – Working from Home
Janet at her desk
Taking the plunge
On a cold November morning back in 2012 I remember standing in my garden with my new baby snuggled up in my arms making one of the hardest phone calls of my life. I had finally decided to resign from my position as Senior Events and Marketing Manager at the Natural History Museum. I was to become a full time Mum in our new home in rural Oxfordshire and eventually start working from home. It doesn’t sound like a difficult decision now, but back in those early days of sleepless nights I knew nothing about the new life I was going to embark on and I was turning my back on a career I loved, in a setting that I could only have ever dreamed of working in.
Fast forward five years and we have George settled into school and two year old Oliver will shortly be off to nursery. I have had the most amazing years of my life with my two children, watching them grow and flourish into the confident and fun little boys they are today. I felt ready to dip my toe back into the events world, but after spending all that time with my boys, I didn’t feel I could dive back into the 24/7 events career that I once loved and found so hard to let go. Could I have the best of both worlds?
Working from home for The AC
I decided to set up my own business, Janet Clarke Weddings and Events, to enable me to utilise my 15 years of events and hospitality experience in a freelance capacity. I worked with The Admirable Crichton for many years while at the Natural History Museum, and after seeing so many of their incredible events I have enormous respect for the work they do. Back in May, I was thrilled when they asked me to work for them on a freelance basis. My role involves supporting the events team with their sales and marketing efforts, doing all those jobs that are vitally important but of course will always come second place to delivering client events.
The great news is that The AC have the necessary technology in place and more importantly, Directors who have the foresight and trust to manage a remote workforce efficiently. I am given regular, clear objectives so that my output can be measured and from my point of view this is great because it gives me an opportunity to prove I am working hard while being based at home.
Working from home can be isolating, but The AC ensures I feel part of the team by regularly inviting me into the office to meet with various team members and ensuring I am up to date with product knowledge. I enjoy the opportunity to drop my boys at school and be there to collect them, then whizz them off to their various after-school clubs. I am well aware how lucky I am to find the best of both worlds.
Benefits all round
So what’s in it for The AC, surely it’s better to have someone on hand in the office, working set hours and able to grab the phone when needed? True, but when companies think outside the box there is so much more to be gained. By making some minor adjustments, they have found they can tap into a pool of parents and carers itching to get back into the working world.
There are numerous financial benefits for companies too. They can cut down on office space and equipment but ultimately when a company can demonstrate an open mind and an adaptable approach to working they will, in return have employees who are loyal, productive and engaged. I would even go as far as to say that we would favour flexibility over a salary increase, as the work-life balance is so valuable to us.
Skills, skills, skills
I stand at the school gates with copywriters, IT managers, project managers and marketing executives who are all working remotely with bundles of experience and skills to offer. We make part of the 18% of mums who had to leave their work when flexible working arrangements were not made possible (survey by workingmums.co.uk). Grateful for an opportunity to work remotely, this is a workforce of highly motivated individuals delivering results for companies, often going the extra mile.
I am confident this is a scene repeated up and down the country, perhaps more prevalent in rural communities where highly experienced workers have moved out of London to bring up a family. With the continuous improvements in technology, including the Government’s commitment to supplying superfast broadband to rural communities, distance does not have to be a barrier for either party.
Being based at home makes juggling home life with work vital and I am confident that I am just as productive as I would be sitting with the team in the office, if not more. In fact research states I am likely to be around 13% more productive working remotely and take fewer sick days than office based employees. Without the day to day distractions of a busy office, I tuck myself away at home and get stuck into the tasks given to me. With the deadline of 2.45pm for school pick up there’s no time for daydreaming and barely time for a coffee because I know I have to deliver.
The events industry is known as a place where work-life balance just doesn’t exist, but I think if more companies have the foresight of The AC they will be able to attract, retain and develop the best workforce in the industry.
Managing Director Ruth Lawton-Owen commented, “The AC is proud to have working parents at all levels throughout the company who are afforded flexibility within their working environment. We understand that being supportive of their family life is a key factor in their career development and satisfaction, especially in an environment where hours are often long and outside of the normal working day”.