Two perspectives on flexible working: employer and employee (Part 2) (Ep27)

Two perspectives on flexible working: employer and employee (Part 2) (Ep27)

This episode is Part 2 of our interview with Catriona MacLeod and Heather Williams from Cullen MacLeod Lawyers. Catriona is a director of the firm and Heather is one of their employed lawyers. In part one of this interview we spent time talking about how Catriona has implemented paid parental leave and flexible working at the firm and the benefits they are deriving as a result – not just a good feeling for doing the “right thing”, but also some solid business returns in increased loyalty from staff and lower turnover.  

In this second and final part of the interview we talk about flexible working more generally, not just as it benefits working mums. Importantly, Catriona and Heather shared their views on the benefits of flexible working: 

  • The fact that part time/flexible workers tend to be more focused and achieve more in less time, as they are having to juggle more elements in their lives. 
  • People are happier and healthier (which also adds to their overall productivity).  
  • People who can take time out and work away from the office, free of distractions, tend to be more productive and fresher when physically present. 
  • Having people working in different time zones can mean that work is turned around “overnight”. 
  • Flexible working can attract more people to an employer, allowing the employer to choose from a wider pool of candidates and those who are employed tend to stay longer which means an employer gets to keep the knowledge the employees have obtained whilst at the company. 

Of course it isn’t all plain sailing. Some of the difficulties of flexible working include the risk that managers will not delegate work to those not physically present and there can be a high cost involved in utilising locum/contract staff to cover absences. 

After listening to Catriona and Heather you might be wondering about how to convince your own employer to implement flexible working. If so, Catriona recommends you have some statistics ready. Be prepared to talk to your employer about recruitment and turnover numbers and less quantitative data like employee happiness/engagement information. 

We finish the interview by asking Catriona and Heather our usual questions and they gave us some really good advice: 

  • From Catriona – just say yes! Don’t self select out of opportunities. Say yes and do it! Of course, if you do this there will be occasions when things don’t go to plan. In which case, take the words from Frozen to heart, and “let it go”. 
  • And from Heather – When thinking about having a baby and how you are going to manage your return to work, have the conversation at home first before you approach your employer. Don’t make assumptions about your partner. Rather, ask them what they want – how much time they want to spend with the baby, whether they want to work flexibly, etc. Only then can you have an informed conversation with your employer. 
  • Finally, wise words from Catriona: “Be kind to the people who are trying to juggle it all.”  

You find out more about Cullen MacLeod on their website or connect with Heather and Catriona on LinkedIn.

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2 comments

  1. Sonia says:

    This was a great conversation ladies. I loved Heather’s frankness of keeping the baby alive as her first piority, made me laugh out loud, so now I look like the crazy in the office. Catriona’s viewpoint was most definitely an eye opener, and very forward thinking for a boutique law firm. I loved the point about negativity or positivity spreading like a contagion, so true. Great work as always Jo & Lucy.

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