Make a resolution this Father’s Day to get flexible, get local and get home earlier
With Father’s Day this Sunday, many dads are probably wondering what delightful gift will be coming their way. A ‘Best Dad’ mug? A comedy tie? According to Regus, the global workspace provider, the dream gift for many fathers would be more family time, not just on special occasions but during the normal working week.
A recent poll conducted by Regus amongst Ireland’s business community shows that over two-fifths of workers (41%) put in more than nine hours on an average day, with men bearing the brunt of the long hours culture, and often in combination with an energy-sapping commute. Over two-thirds (69%) report that they spend more time working than two years ago. This clearly hinders aspirations to combine career development with being an active parent.
However there is no reason that this should be the case. It is usually straightforward – and hugely beneficial – for employers to give staff a degree of choice over where and when they work. Usually people are given the option of working from home or from a local business centre which offers the facilities of the office closer to home. Working flexibly helps fathers reduce their commuting, work at hours that fit with family life and cut down on expensive paid childcare.
The majority of Irish workers (86%) believe that flexible working is more family-friendly. There is no doubt that flexi-working is on the rise – over a fifth (23%) believe their employers are making efforts to shorten staff commute times – but in too many cases it is deemed a privilege for senior managers.
Sunday’s celebration of fatherhood should prompt local employers to consider whether they are really doing enough to promote work-life balance. This is not merely altruistic; it is well recognised that happier staff are more productive at work.
Adrienne Burgess, joint CEO of the Fatherhood Institute, comments: “Governments can support shared parenting through policy, but businesses also have a part to play, by offering a range of flexible working options. Companies that do this well can attract the best staff and afford them the space to perform well as parents – which in turn makes them more likely to perform well as employees.
“Children, fathers, mothers, society – we all benefit from helping dads take part in family life, so let’s support them to do that. Fathering is for all year round, not just Father’s Day.”
Olivier de Lavellette, Regional Director for Ireland at Regus, adds: “There are growing numbers of stay-at-home dads across the region and families who split the childcare, but in reality it is very challenging to balance family and work life. According to the Fairness in Families Index compiled by the Fatherhood Institute, Ireland has a long way to go in terms of opportunities for shared parenting, coming 16th out of 21 upper-income countries. So many fathers face the question that is so familiar to working mothers: just how do you balance career progression with parental responsibilities?
“In theory, today’s modern fathers are in a far better position than previous generations of working parents because society, attitudes and workplace practices have fundamentally changed and become more flexible. These days, performance is judged by results, not presence at the office, and technology has facilitated the shift away from the fixed, nine-til-five office towards a ‘work anywhere’ model.
“The problem of trusting staff to work effectively out of the office is still a major hurdle for some companies. But increasingly, flexible working options are becoming business-as-usual. They boost productivity and morale, help firms retain talent, and offer employers access to a huge pool of professionals who don’t want the traditional, long-hours, commuting life, where they scarcely see their family. Conversely, businesses that don’t offer more flexibility to their staff risk losing productivity, revenues and talent, so it’s advisable for employers to look at all the flexible working options and support available.”
Regus offers flexible workspace for companies of all sizes at its centres in Ireland, the UK and across the world.