At the recent "Struggle of the Juggle" networking seminar, we
talked about the many different challenges that professional women
(and men!) face when combining paid work with the many other
important things that happen in our lives.
Around our tables we shared thoughts and ideas for ways to "make
it all work" and what follows are some of our top tips from the
seminar, on the following 6 discussion topics, plus a bonus of
everyone's Top Tips:
- What changes have you made to how you approach
flexible working since the earthquakes?
- What positive changes have you noticed with
regard to flexible working arrangements over the last 5
- Can every job be done flexibly?
- If you were assessing a possible new employer
what signs might you look for to figure out their attitude to
- What advice would you have for somebody who is
seeking to negotiate a more flexible working arrangement with their
- Which elements of flexible working do you really
value and why?
- Everyone's personal Top Tips for dealing with the
Struggle of the Juggle
What changes have you made to how you
approach flexible working since the earthquakes?
- Taking it easy on myself - not setting so many goals and
running around trying to do everything
- Making more "me time"
- Setting new goals that perhaps wouldn't have appealed before -
trying new things
- Finding it easier to deal with unexpected things that happen -
e.g. snow day working from home is no longer a big deal
- Taking time out during the day - not just working all the
- National colleagues acknowledging our challenges here and being
even more supportive - which could be an approach rolled out into
What positive changes have you noticed
with regard to flexible working arrangements over the last 5
- Employers are more responsive to flexibility especially since
the earthquake; the realisation has been that it's not a big
dealThe impact of technology has been immense, enabling more
flexible working and making it more widely implemented
- We can take work home if need be without worrying but as a
result there has become a need for more clearly defined boundaries
about home and life
- Men are taking more advantage of flexible working too and
sharing responsibilities (e.g. taking parental leave)
- Overall there's more negotiation for flexible ways of working
in the office - and at different levels too, it's not limited to
people in one particular role
- However, some industries are not so open to the concept of
being able to work flexibly, e.g. science
- Culture doesn't always support the means for flexible working -
the policies may be there to support it but sometimes the
managers/employees don't walk the talk
Can every job be done flexibly?
- The feeling of the group was that all jobs could be done
flexibly, but it was very much down to the flexibility and approach
of the employer
- Impact of succession planning and making yourself indispensable
can have a negative impact on the ability of you doing your job
flexibly - important not to encourage it
- Importance of having very good systems and processes for
handing over if job sharing
- Impact of technology has made flexibility in every role easier
- looked at examples from big businesses through to self employed
(where you still have flexibility, you just say no to work :)
If you were assessing a possible new
employer what signs might you look for to figure out their attitude
Women in medium or higher management roles in the company
During the interview, ask the HR team for examples of who works
part time etc - if the HR team can't work flexibly then it's
unlikely the rest of the organisation will be able to!
Ask around to see if you know somebody who has experience
What advice would you have for
somebody who is seeking to negotiate a more flexible working
arrangement with their employer?
- Instead of seeing this as a problem, approach your employer
with a mutual solution - something that works for everybody
- Ask yourself what would be your back up plan if you weren't
able to get the solution that you want to ensure that you are being
as flexible and reasonable as possible
- Put yourself in the employers shoes and think of all the
reasons to make this work
Which elements of flexible working do
you really value and why?
- Flexibility allows us to choose the time of day that we do
things - knowing ourselves and choosing whether to do certain
things in the morning or the afternoon according to our work
patterns and preferences
- Finishing early if we need to
- It's less stressful when you can work flexibly
Our Top Tips for dealing with the
Struggle of the Juggle
- Set a personal service level agreement - do you REALLY need to
do things when you are doing them?
- Set deadlines for people, even at home (e.g. we will empty the
dishwasher in the morning, now we are relaxing)
- Write it down - limit yourself to fitting a daily to-do list
onto one Post It note or it won't get done
- Rank your to-do list and focus on the time critical items
- Reprioritise during the day to make sure you are still on
- Ignore the phone/emails for certain periods of the day
- Don't sweat the small stuff
- Get help where appropriate e.g. try online shopping, get a
- Communication and delegation are both important - need to be
able to set clear expectations and have deadlines realistic
- Letting go of guilt can be paramount if you are working reduced
hours - one Professionelle referenced comments from colleagues to
"enjoy your holiday" when she left for her normal 4-day
- Be clear about what is YOU time and keep it to yourself
- Ask yourself the purpose of what you're trying to achieve (e.g.
family meal, social event) and check you're not over engineering it
- could you use paper plates? Get a caterer? Ask people to bring a
plate? You don't have to be super woman and you can't do
- Organisation is key
- Be energetic and self motivated
For fun, each table had a set of juggling balls to practice with
while discussing the subject.
Overall, things were summed up perfectly by our wonderful and
brave Professionelle who also demonstrated her fabulous juggling
It's how you deal with the throw and the catch....it's mostly
all about timing and staying calm.
...how apt that we can apply these wise words to our own
Struggle of the Juggle!