Working 9 – 5 in an office doesn’t work for many people but, for single parents, it’s especially hard. Having only one adult at home to help with the children’s routine and upkeep of the house can be impossible to manage if that adult must also commute to an office five days a week.
The UK has around 1.8 million lone-parent families who are collectively raising more than a fifth of the country’s children. Having an environment where they can work effectively has never been more important.
Perks of the Pandemic
We all know that working from home is not the only answer when it comes to flexible working. Some employers can actually be stricter in terms of timekeeping for home workers. Making it impossible for employees to leave their desk for more than a few minutes at a time. For those in companies who have a more relaxed approach to WFH, it can be a godsend for single parents.
While the Covid-19 pandemic was devastating, it proved that WFH can be effective. For single parents, this opened a whole world of working options that were not available before. With no other adult help, WFH allows parents to keep on top of household tasks during the day. And spend less money on childcare while cutting commuting time and even allowing some much-needed time for themselves.
“I became a single mum at the beginning of 2020,” said Emma from Edinburgh.
“For the first couple of months, it was business as usual with me working full-time in the office, but it soon started to take its toll. With only me around after work and school, my evenings were eaten up by washing school uniforms, making dinner, and catching up on cleaning and that was on top of the usual homework help, bath and bedtimes. I was exhausted.
When my office introduced working from home, it really saved me mentally. I had time throughout the day to keep on top of washing and cleaning, have dinner cooking and just generally have a bit of time to take a walk or have a bit of a rest. I also gained around two hours a day by not commuting. Although I’m now expected to come into the office twice a week, it’s still a lifesaver knowing that I have those three days at home. My biggest fear is if they stop home working completely.”
The Point of No Return
And Emma is not alone with her desire to keep homeworking. According to a survey by US-based recruitment platform FlexJobs, about two-thirds of people surveyed between July and August 2022 wanted to keep working from home. However, big corporations such as Disney and Starbucks are leading the way in championing a full return.
For single parents, this approach simply doesn’t work. The burden of the daily commute and lack of support at home means that their need for flexibility is greater than most.
These workers make up such a high percentage of staff in the UK and their needs must be listened to. Like other employees, they’ve proved they can do their jobs outside the office and if employers can’t accommodate parents’ need for more flexibility around home working, they risk a talent drain as these parents seek out new roles with companies that can. Switching to outcome-based work and WFH seems the way forward, especially for single parents.
If you are a single parent looking for a flexible working role, check out our flexible working job platform here.