The nation sat down at 7pm last Sunday night waiting in anticipation for some wise and assuring words from our Prime Minister Boris Johnson. By the end my phone was lighting up like a bonfire, with panic stricken friends (with and without kids). One texted ‘I’ve just done a journey planner and it will take me 4 hours 15 mins to walk to work, better set my alarm for 3am this morning then’ followed by every crying emoji in existence – I didn’t realise there were so many. Another texted ‘So where do the kids fit into the equation?’
To instruct people to return to work, if they can’t work from home, without following this up with a statement about what childcare options were in place was alarming. I think a nation skipped a heart beat, as for our mental health, well that’s another blog post right there. Thankfully more information has been posted since then regarding nannies in your own home – still a minefield, as background checking and securing a good one in such a short time frame is a job in itself.
I felt compelled to write this blog post or dare I say rant 8 weeks into lockdown because I strongly believe it’s important to share experiences, with so many in a similar situation. This is not the time to feel alone. Freelance work had pretty much dried up for me (imagine the Road Runner cartoon, with gusts of sand in the desert) so I decided a part time role to bring money in would be a good idea. I also wanted to transfer my skillset to the charity sector and find a paid role supporting a cause I believed in, having volunteered for a while now.
So here goes:
I had an interview one week before lockdown started with what I thought was a forward thinking small charity. I answered a question explaining how Facebook groups, Zoom calls, Twitter polls (all basic stuff) would enable them to get the analytics they craved for and more importantly bring about direct engagement with their profiled audience.
Turns out it was not the right answer in their opinion. To summarise: I was told I didn’t get the role as my answers were too creative, although open to the idea of flexible working (that old gem) it was in no way practical for this role – they didn’t want to venture outside the box and looking for someone who followed their guidelines. Now, I may not know much about HR but my understanding is that an employer has a right to turn down a request if valid legitimate business reasons are given; costs or impacting on the quality of work duties.
Needless to say, I received a message midway through lockdown. Asking if I was still looking for a part time role; my opinion on the best ways to implement my suggestions and – wait for it – they were now looking at a more flexible working approach to the role in order to move forward. They thought of me.
Funny how a rejection can drastically change to an offer in a few weeks! I politely declined. Sometimes a rejection can open your eyes and I am more determined than ever to support the not for profit sector, but with the right charity. It may take a while. Fingers crossed freelance writing work trickles into my inbox in the meantime. Better get used to eating cereal a lot…
From what I gather from whisperings, and it is really that, employers and businesses on the whole have had an unwelcome trial run of flexible working, as they had no choice but to adapt. Some have worked better than expected with positive results in networking and increased revenues to match, whilst others have found productivity from employees dropped significantly. Sadly, there is no clear cut answer.
All any of us can do is to strive for that work-life balance and don’t give up on finding or asking for flexible opportunities post-lockdown. If you have proved yourself during lockdown working remotely, good for you – the next step is to present this positive feedback. You have one chance to make the plea in 12months – state your reasons clearly and don’t waste it.
© May 2020
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