Why flexible working is top of the class

Getting to know you: Further education

Short courses are perfect for employees who want to fill the gaps in their knowledge, or formalise their skills, while degrees, masters etc. help produce specialists – something that is undoubtedly useful in areas like law, finance and HR.  Flexible working can easily fit around further study and the latter pays dividends for employers too: not only does it show that a person is willing to invest time in expanding their knowledge, it demonstrates discipline and self-development initiative.

We found that a number of our ‘jugglers’ were using their free time to take courses including one incredible candidate who needs to work flexibly because she is completing her degree part-time while managing a busy work and home life. The soon-to-be business graduate and mother of three even managed to schedule time to speak to us about how flexible working ensures she can fit everything in…

  • Name: Natasha Henderson
  • Age: 35
  • Occupation: Payroll contractor

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I grew up in Balham, South London and moved around a bit, living with friends for a while before settling later on in Crystal Palace. I have three children – two girls and a boy aged 12, 10 and 7.

I have over a decade of experience in payroll, but eventually want to move into HR management when I complete my business degree in two years’ time. On the rare occasion that I get some downtime, I love escaping with video games like the Sims or I’m champion at Micro Machines! Occasionally my children and I will play tournaments – they obviously aren’t happy when I win.

When did you begin working flexibly?

Previously, I’d always worked full time, but I was very stressed and would often bring work home with me. I realised my work/life balance was out of kilter and felt that my children weren’t getting much quality time with me, as everything was always so rushed. So, in 2014, I decided to reduce my hours and began working part-time before being placed by Juggle Jobs into my current flexible contract role in August 2017.

What type of flexible working do you engage in?

I work two part-time jobs: one from home where I set my own hours and one on-site where I have set hours. I do however only intend to do the latter until the end of the year.

What does flexible working allow you to do?

It allows me to work, study and enjoy a happy family life.

Tell us more about your studying – what do you get from it on a personal level?

I didn’t follow the ‘traditional’ route into higher education, but knew I always wanted to study Business at university as I’d loved it at school.  Skills-wise, it gives me a routine that requires solid organisation: learning, revising and completing assignments. It’s bolstered my confidence in the business world as I’ve had to partake in public speaking and group work. In the past, when I met new people, I was quite shy and it would take time to come out of my shell; now, I have no problem going up to someone and starting a conversation.

On a more general level, it’s my way of putting my stamp on and owning something away from home – I don’t need to rely on anyone to do this, just me. But, I also feel proud that I can inspire my children and show them that they are able achieve anything regardless of age or circumstances.

How has further education improved your skills and how does this feed back into your work?

During one of the modules we looked at people in organisations: exploring the hierarchy, attitudes and culture in companies. I found it really interesting as I could take the theories we’d studied and apply them in practice, which changed my approach to clients and colleagues. When you understand on a psychological level, why people behave the way they do, it makes more sense and you can respond accordingly.

How do you think the companies you work / have worked for have benefited from your extra-curricular activities?

The modules I do: finance and accounting, marketing and HR are directly related and therefore invaluable. But as a result of juggling two jobs, a degree and three young children, I am a ninja-scheduler, punctual and never miss deadlines. I find that I work better when under pressure – recently I had to complete three assignments in two weeks in addition to working and childcare. Despite the load, I passed with flying colours without anything slipping elsewhere.

In addition to your job and studying, you have three young children so a lot of demands on your time. what, in your opinion, can companies do better to accommodate this?

Flexible working should be offered everywhere because I think a work / life balance is key to employees feeling valued, but not overworked. It would also be helpful if companies recognised the benefits of offering some type of study leave (especially when a course is related to a job and businesses will be benefitting).

Juggle has placed me with a company that has monthly on-site meetings where everyone gets to meet with others in the team. I love it as it helps create bonds that would otherwise be hard to form when you’re working from home and makes me feel involved.

Would you return to a more traditional working pattern?

Not at the moment. While going back to a full-time role would mean more money, it would also mean less time to spend with my children and studying. I do miss the consistency of in-house roles, but money isn’t everything. Currently, the freedom I get from flexible working to advance my knowledge and education, and be actively involved in my children’s life is a greater pay-off.

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Part of the new ‘Getting to know you’ series – Follow us to be kept up-to-date on the next segment and other articles from Juggle Jobs

Juggle Jobs is a digital platform that connects businesses with high-quality vetted professionals looking to work flexibly. If you want more information about how we can help you, please email us at info@jugglejobs.co.uk

Juggle Jobs is listed as one of Recruiter.com’s “Top 10 HR Tech Start-Ups”: Top 10 HR Tech Start-Ups (Recruiter.com)