We are the change

Are you reaping the rewards of the flexible business culture?

Just over 20 years ago, I had a brief period when I wasn’t working. My marriage had broken down and I had run a company with my husband, so within 24 hours I was on my own, homeless and without a job. I did get myself back on my feet again, but I can still remember how that period affected my level of confidence, and also just how quickly that self-doubt crept in when I wasn’t looking!

It is very easy to forget just how good we are and how many skills we have. Any period of not working, for whatever reason, will have given us the opportunity to acquire new skills that we can transfer back into the workplace.

These tips are just as relevant if you have been running your own business for some time.

If you have been on maternity leave for instance, you will have fine tuned your non verbal communication skills to the highest level. Your ability to pick up on the merest nuances of body language displayed by others will be second to none, a new mother’s ability to know everything about how her baby is feeling is so acute. Your hearing will have changed. As women we have evolved to pick up high pitch noise (a baby crying) and this will have been increased, leading to the ability to hear differently in the workplace, and being able to notice changes in people’s tone of voice and emphasis of message in a way your other colleagues are unable to do as effectively. Most of us are naturally good at multi tasking, but that seriously comes into play with a new baby!  Juggling is the only way to function. As children grow up our negotiation skills are honed to perfection too, together with conflict management expertise and an ability to coach and empower people to be the best they can be.

If your absence from work has been due to an illness, then consider the amount of positive thought processes, determination and resilience you have had to call on to get you through and back to the position of being able to return to work. Never underestimate the huge learning you have acquired through this experience in your life.

Perhaps you have been made redundant and have used the time to retrain or increase existing skills. This shows a huge amount of foresight, focus and ambition than any employer would see as a huge benefit.

With all of this new-found energy, enthusiasm and focussed determination, it is quite possible your priorities may have changed too. It could be that a more flexible working pattern works more effectively for you now. The long hour culture that is prevalent in many organisations is not conducive to consistent productivity at the same high level and will eventually have a negative impact on not only an individual but potentially the company too. Make sure you don’t adopt this culture into your own business.

So, can you come up with a business case for a more flexible working pattern for yourself and the business you run? If you are less stressed and less tired, you are likely to be hugely more productive and effective, which in turn will have a direct positive impact on the bottom line of your business. Your clients are getting more of you for the money. You are less likely to suffer stress/ill-health, which will also have a positive impact for the business.The business case for flexible working is now so robust it is virtually impossible to argue against it. Remember to apply this to your own business plan.

What does flexible working look like?

The world is getting smaller and smaller. I live on the South Coast of England, recently I was working at St Andrews in Scotland, staying in a hotel, on the phone to a radio station in Connecticut, USA for a live radio interview! We have no restrictions upon us in this 21st century business arena. So, however you want to work, wherever you want to work, anything is possible. The portfolio career is building influence and the entrepreneur revolution is gathering speed. Sit down and decide what flexible working looks like for you and how it can best serve your life right now.

A recent survey found that graduates today are far more likely to start their own business rather than work for a large organisation. The ability to choose our lifestyles, to work to live instead of living to work, is increasingly taking precedence. Running your own business does not equal working all the hours possible at the neglect of those around you and your own health.

Flexibility is the key word for businesses who want to expand, grow and flourish in the future. There is no excuse for not adopting flexible working options when you run your own business. The 21st century model for work is: flexibility, adaptability, vision, creativity, portfolio career, entrepreneur mindset and joint venture working. All things women are naturally brilliant at! Be a part of the exciting business future, and move away from the negativity of those stuck in the old mindset.

You can read more articles by Katie Day here!

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  1. Cathy Fernendo says

    I should have found this website long long ago. Your post is wonderful. My business is the key of my life, I wish we had more women entrepreneurs in our country. And to be honest, what could be better than being your own boss?

    1. Katie Day says

      Hi Cathy, what a lovely message, thank you so much. I know, Women Unlimited is a fabulous resource isn’t it? Did you go to the conference a few weeks ago? If not, be sure to go to it next year. I stopped working over 20 years ago, and simply get paid for what I love doing – how good can life get! I think there are far more female entrepreneurs in the UK than we have any idea about, we are so flexible and creative. I hope your business flourishes and you go from strength to strength. Katie

  2. CrisisMaven says

    Flexibility can have a downside also. Studies seem to show recently that the larger an office, the higher the sick rate. Hot-desking (no fixed desk and space, whoever arrives first in the morning grabs a desk, keys his personal number into the phone, connects his/her laptop and hence is reachable there for the rest of the day) has been linked to higher stress hormone levels than other work conditions cause etc. Those graduates who start their own businesses often also fail in some. Maybe they learn and emerge stronger. Maybe they are shouldered with a lot of debt hampering (or so they think) any fresh start. I think flexibility alone is not the virtue per se. A good solicitor specialising in, say, leases for shopping malls, should not put it down to flexibility if he/she also guides a friend through divorce procedures. Or, that professional’s flexibility would have been to be flexible enough to decline. So flexibility itself is part or a set of personality traits that should not always take priority or one might be seen as dithering. A willow in the wind is a good analogy: firmly planted but flexible enough not to be uprooted by the next high tide or storm.