Results outweigh facetime when it comes to flexible working

Flexible working can create greater productivity and benefits everyone, particularly multitasking parents.

Results outweigh facetime when it comes to flexible working

My daughter, aged four, is easily the most important thing in my life. Yet some of the time she is just one of my many responsibilities.

PR people - men or women, parent or not - have been managing multiple projects, often outside working hours, since PR began. And that is how it is for me with motherhood. It requires teamwork, focus and very reliable technology.

I am fortunate to have a nanny and a reliable husband.

We have created a team that communicates regularly, shares the effort and enjoys the rewards together. We do not spend much time arguing over who does what because we trust each other that it is fair.

Translate that to the workplace and you have a culture that works for everyone. My team works hard and delivers results for the business and people have a life outside work. Flexible working - we call it 'smart working' - is seen as a positive.

When O2 trialled a flexible working day, the results measuring productivity were remarkable. The majority (52 per cent) of saved commuting time was spent working; 88 per cent thought they were at least as productive as normal and more than a third of staff said they were more productive.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer caused a storm in June by demanding that every one of the firm's employees cease working from home. This says more about a lack of trust than the importance of location.

Many of my team are based elsewhere anyway, yet we create productive working relationships. We measure on results, not face time.

Sometimes an emergency happens and I have to drop everything to look after my daughter, as I do for any crisis or critical event at work. It is a game of give and take. My employer trusts me to use my judgement and knows I have never yet let it down by not being there. If I really cannot be there, I have a very capable team.

Social media is, you may have noticed, a 24-hour business.

Focusing on the right thing at the right time is a vital skill. It has to be said that the right technology was key to the success of O2's flexible working experiment.

Our people can and do work wherever they need to, whether that is at home or in a coffee shop. Our 'water cooler' is more likely to be Microsoft Lync or Yammer. A company that invests in the right tools for its workforce is likely to get the best from them, whether they are mothers or not.

In addition, if the benefits of higher productivity, a lower carbon footprint and retention and attraction of key talent are not enough, there is also the cost saving and competitive advantage to consider.

In my view, the very term 'working mother' is out of date.

I am a woman who manages multiple projects, many of which are urgent, though I must admit I do have a favourite. She just turned four.

Nicola Green is director of comms and reputation at Telefonica UK.

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