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Insights How flexible working hours help Samantha to thrive

by Samantha Symes | Regional HR advisor

15 May 2018

My name is Samantha, and I work as Regional HR advisor at Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, in the UK. I started work at Atkins before I became a mum. And while I’ve always felt supported here and that the company respected my life outside of work. After ‘baby’ came along, being at a company that really walked the talk around its flexible working policies became everything!

My flexible working story…

Just after I had my daughter, I remember one of my antenatal friends bursting into tears at a baby group. She was having to face her first interview in 15 years. Her employer had refused her request to return to work part time. So the latter half of her maternity leave was clouded over by the stress of updating her CV, job searching and trying to go for interviews while caring for a 10 month old baby. I was appalled that she could be treated that way.

Enabled to work part time

In contrast, I was welcomed back warmly after maternity leave. I’d been using my Keeping In Touch (KIT) days, had been in regular contact with my line manager and colleagues throughout my leave, and my request to return back to a three-day week had been accepted. No stress.

Flexibility to thrive as a mum and a professional

After returning from maternity leave, I had a great work-life balance. My daughter was a toddler at nursery for two days a week and at her grandparents for one. And because Atkins is a flexible employer, I was also able to swap my work days around my parents I was loving being back at work, while also being able to meet up with friends and go to baby classes. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on my child’s younger years, or that my career was being disadvantaged. And because Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis group, is a flexible employer, I was also able to swap my work days when it suited my mum and dad.

And then my parents drop a bombshell

One day my parents announced that they were selling up and retiring to the coast. Up until that point they had lived around the corner and were my on-call babysitters. Rather than be happy for them, my first thought was, WHAT WILL I DO ABOUT CHILDCARE? Upping my nursery days to three days a week at our private nursery was going be out of the question.

A full life calls for flexible hours

I soon found a wonderful pre-school close to work, the only downside was that they operated during term time and school hours. Atkins came to the rescue with its amazing approach to work hours. I put in a flexible working request that would spread my hours, allowing me to do school drop off and pick up. It was approved. If anything the flexible hours have worked out better for my colleagues, as now I’m in the office four days a week, instead of three.

School holidays v. annual leave?

Any parent will agree that juggling school holidays can be a headache. Again, Atkins has been a huge help to us with the option of buying more annual leave. When it comes to the six-week long summer holidays, I’m open to any suggestions. Well at least with my parents settled in their home on the coast, my daughter will have a great place to spend the summer…

Thank you Atkins for being committed to family

Being a parent brings so many challenges, but I can’t thank my management team or Atkins enough for the support they’ve given me as a working mum. I know I’m very fortunate to have an employer who really takes care of working parents. They’ve made it possible for me to be there for my little family, AND to carry on being equally valued at work. It’s true, with part time work comes a part time salary, but being able to be a present mum to my daughter, means the world to me!

How could flexible working transform your life? Read more about our supportive policies and team culture here.