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Working Flexibly when you have Caring or Other Significant Responsibilities

We recognise that we are working in extraordinary circumstances and that colleagues are doing all they can to contribute during this period. Things are changing quickly every day, and most of us have seen our typical routines turned upside down.  

We recognise it won’t be smooth or perfect, but there are a few options that you could consider and that we hope will make your new situation a little easier. 

Please be assured that we wish to support you and will understand that you may have to change work routines, take holiday at short notice and perhaps not work your normal number of hours. We will do everything we can to accommodate your situation. Please speak to your line manager and rest assured that you will continue to receive your normal pay.

Get creative with your working pattern

Current circumstances mean that we all need to work creatively. Please speak to your line manager to agree what can be achieved. We appreciate that sometimes this will mean you are unlikely to deliver what you would have done if you were at work on one of our campuses

There are many possible options, for example:

  • you could work early mornings or evenings if you need to provide dependents care during the day;
  • you could work in blocks of time throughout the day starting early or late;
  • if you have another adult at home with you, you could consider a joint caring schedule, with one adult working and the other taking on the caring responsibilities, e.g. one person working during the day, and one working in the evening;
  • you may want to work a compressed week by working longer hours per day allowing you to take some days off during the week (this may be useful if you are in a position where you can share your caring responsibilities);
  • you may want to work over the weekend (when there may be more support at home) and take time off for your caring responsibilities during the week;
  • you may be able to agree with your line manager that you temporarily reduce your working hours to help better balance between caring responsibilities and work. Hours could be made up after this period of remote working – this may well suit some roles and their peaks and troughs in activity;
  • alternatively you may prefer to take some annual leave so that you can be with your children whilst they are off school.

Things to consider:

  • Whichever new working patterns you do, there will be an adjustment period as you get used to your new working hours.
  • You’ll also need to take meetings and deadlines into consideration. Which ones can be moved around, and which are set in stone?

Normal pay will be maintained unless you want to reduce your working hours and do not wish to make up the time.

Communicate with your colleagues

Even with the best-laid plans, your caring responsibilities will interrupt your work. Your colleagues will be more understanding about interruptions if you warn them ahead of time. You’re making the best of an unprecedented situation, and you’ll probably have colleagues who are going through it with you.

Clearly communicating your needs cannot only help to make your own life less stressful during this time, but you also open the door for your colleagues to have this conversation as well. Please be assured that having this kind of conversation will help everyone — you, your colleagues and your line manager. 

Top tips:

  1. If you have a conference call and know there might be some unavoidable noises in the background, such as children playing or petscall attention to it at the beginning of the conversation. This way if/when it happens, people will be more prepared and not as thrown off by the distraction.
  2. If you have a joint caring schedule, inform the people you work with the most.
    For example, you can say, “I have two children at home. I’m sometimes going to be working at odd hours so I can get everything done. And you’ll probably see and hear my children during meetings. Thank you in advance for your patience.”
  3. Put your revised working hours in your email signature and your voicemail to remind everyone of when you’re working and when you’re not. Before going into a conference call or video meeting, warn the attendees that there will be children in the background. Then mute your microphone until you’re ready to talk.

Take some time away from work

Make sure each adult in the house also has downtime to themselves. Working while managing children or caring for others can take a toll on everyone’s patience and energy levels. 

Top tips:

  1. You might make space to read a book, focus on a hobby, or exercise. In a house with multiple adults you can share the responsibilities, and try to discuss when and how you’ll each take your downtime in advance. Single parents or carers might need to wait until the weekend or use an early morning or late evening for alone time.
  2. Please remember that you can also book annual leave either to get some more dedicated time with your children or dependents or to have some more downtime for yourself. While we may not be able to take our usual holidays or get involved in the activities we might usually like to do during our annual leave, taking a break from the workplace is still important for us all.

 

 

 

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