Flexible Work and Inspiring Inclusion

As part of our series in the run-up to International Women’s Day 2024, our team is reflecting on the issues that affect women in the industries we operate within, and offering their advice on how we can inspire inclusivity and build a more equal future for all.
In this article, Senior Controls and Automation Recruiter Rachel Bastin describes her own experience as a working mother, and how Heat’s flexible and remote working policies have enabled her to return to the world of recruitment.

While many businesses seem to be discussing rolling back their flexible working policies and demanding a return to in-office work, this is ultimately extremely short-sighted: the knock-on effect that removing these work patterns will have on workers who are juggling care-giving and childcare responsibilities cannot be underestimated. Interestingly, research from UCL has found that in the UK, 45% of female breadwinners still do the majority of household tasks, compared to just 12.5% of male breadwinners, and that the average female breadwinner spends the equivalent of an entire working day taking care of the house on top of their full-time job. For many women, the introduction of flexible working on a widespread basis opened the door to countless opportunities that would not have otherwise been feasible, allowing them to fit their responsibilities around their working hours in a way that strict in-office work requirements do not allow for.

A report conducted by McKinsey found that 90% of women want the ability to work remotely and with it ‘have experienced an increased sense of belonging, greater psychological safety, and, thanks to less unstructured time with colleagues, fewer microaggressions. This is even more pronounced for women of colour, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities (Fortune).’ What this ultimately means is that, by enforcing a reintroduction of mandatory in-office work patterns, businesses will likely be excluding women from their workforce and will struggle to attract individuals with the skillsets that they urgently need to thrive. And, when the data is showing us that companies with more women in leadership have more engaged workers and are more profitable, the impact this could have on the business’ bottom line is significant.

To find out a little more about the real-life impact that offering flexible and remote-work can have, we spoke to our own Digital Contract Recruiter Rachel Bastin to get her perspective: after a hiatus from the world of recruitment to raise her son, Rachel returned to work and joined the Digital team here at Heat as a fully remote member of the team. Read on to find out her thoughts on the subject…

“I had been in the recruitment industry for around 7 years before I took a career break to raise my son…

It wasn’t an easy decision to take, but I just couldn’t commit to the hours, and with the stress of a newborn baby, maintaining my career in recruitment just wasn’t viable for me at the time. I wanted to dedicate that time and energy to raising Harry. But, when he started school it felt like the right time to return and, in January of this year, that’s what I did.

There are a number of reasons why I felt that Heat would be the right fit for me, but the big thing that swayed me here was the ability to work remotely and the level of flexibility on offer. I’m based in Cornwall, which is a beautiful part of the world, and I love living here. I wasn’t willing to compromise on location and move homes, but equally, I also couldn’t commit to traveling much either; I spoke to other agencies too, but they wanted me to go back to Birmingham, which is where I was originally based, a couple of times a month. That just wouldn’t be feasible or desirable for me. Being able to work around my son was my main requirement for a new role, and that really and truly has proven to be possible with Heat. Not long ago my son had an accident and I had to take time off to take care of him at short notice, Heat has been totally flexible and allowed me to work around that.

If I’m honest, I was apprehensive about coming on board to start a brand-new desk up. I’ve been out of the game for so long so I worried I would be rusty. I knew starting on a cold desk would be challenging, and the first few months certainly were. I found myself questioning my ability and thinking ‘Can I really do this?’, but in all honesty, I think that’s only natural. I knew it would take some time to find my feet, so I kept pushing and putting the work in, and I’m seeing the results now because of this. Every recruiter will tell you that finding that ability to persevere and keep carrying on is what will enable you to start seeing success, but I also owe a lot to our internal team. The level of support and training I’ve had from our managers has helped me get to where I am now. I’m pleased to say that I achieved promotion to Senior at the end of last year, and I’m still able to balance my life within recruitment alongside caring for my son and living in this beautiful part of the world. Without the remote and flexible work policies we have in place, it just wouldn’t be possible.”

“I wasn’t willing to compromise on location and move homes, but equally, I also couldn’t commit to traveling much either. Being able to work around my son was my main requirement for a new role, and that really and truly has proven to be possible with Heat.”

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