Greater London Authority
At City Hall, we are committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming working environment for our staff and encourage a flexible working culture. We recognise that there are many different reasons that people want to work flexibly. To help, we offer a range of options from compressed hours, part-time work and job shares, to remote working and flexi time.
As well as supporting our current staff, this flexible working culture also helps us to attract new staff. That is why our job adverts clearly promote and offer flexible working. Our panels also encourage candidates to talk about any flexibility they might need at the interview stage. We are also making great strides towards gender equality at every level in City Hall. This was recognised when we were named one of The Times Top 50 Employers for Women in 2017.
Careers at Greater London Authority: https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/jobs-and-working-city-hall
“For an organisation to properly support flexible working it must be seen as normal”
Fiona Fletcher-Smith is an Executive Director at the Greater London Authority. She explains how flexible working has helped her combine a high-flying career with being a mum.
I joined City Hall in 2009. The following year I went on maternity leave for 11 months. I knew when I returned to work I wanted to continue my career. I also wanted to look after my child as much as possible. Flexible working has helped me do both.
As I was a first-time mum, I worried about whether it would be ok for me to work flexibly. I wasn’t sure what reaction I’d get at work. Nobody else had a formal flexible working arrangement at that time.
I was worried about how I’d be able to balance a demanding job in the office and a demanding job being a mum at home. I now know it definitely can be done.
After several years of flexible working I took six weeks’ Parental Leave as a sabbatical (two weeks of which were paid). I spent the time to help my son get ready for his move from nursery to school.
When I came back to work changed my flexible working arrangements to fit with school. I now do the drop-off and pick-up two-three times a week, when I work shorter days in the office. I work longer hours on the other days.
Our Head of Office is excellent at managing my diary. It means I can work on the move. Most importantly, I know that I can switch off when I’m with my son.
When possible I also work from home one day a week. It helps me to stay on top of reading papers, reports and strategy. This has been made much easier by City Hall’s remote working systems and new technology. It means I’m much more productive.
For an organisation to properly support flexible working it must be seen as normal. Changing how we work is much easier if we can talk openly and honestly about how flexible working could work for the individual and the team.
Before I had a baby, I thought you had to show your face in the office to prove you were working. I felt this was expected. It’s not true. Here there’s an understanding that I’m in charge of my own time and my own work.
I think City Hall understands that flexible working can have a really positive impact on staff.
“The most important part of a job share is good commun-ication and being honest.”
Lucy and Heather share the role of Head of Area Manager.
I started as Head of Area Manager in 2014. I wanted to spend more time with my daughter, so I agreed with my manager to work compressed hours: four days a week instead of five.
But I felt I had to squeeze too many meetings and too much work into my four days. So I talked to my manager about going part-time. We recruited a job share partner to cover the other part of my role.
Now I get the right balance of home and work. I also know the role is being fully covered every day of the week. The most important part of a job share is good communication and being honest. That way you can both learn from the other.
For example, Heather knows loads about the programme part of the role. I’ve already learned huge amounts from her. My manager and team have been great too.
I’ve worked at City Hall since 2012 and have been job sharing for 20 years. This flexibility has been great for my career development. It’s given me the chance to ‘act up’ in a more senior role, which meant I was better able to take on a senior role permanently.
In 2014, I was promoted to job share the Head of Area Manager post with Lucy. I job share this role two days a week, and two days a week in my existing role as Senior Area Manager.
It’s crucial that we both communicate well with our teams to make sure the different set-ups work well for them. That means things like regular one-to-ones with different managers. What’s been great is that the teams really support this arrangement.
Lucy and I have good systems in place so that we can quickly pick up each other’s work. Being honest about the skills we have and where we want to improve has meant we’re able to learn from each other really well. For example Lucy brings skills from working as a consultant on a wide variety of projects which can be applied to the projects in our team.
The major benefit is that when one of us takes two weeks’ leave, there’s still someone in the office. It’s really comforting to know things haven’t come to a standstill while you’re away.