Few of us can take six to eight weeks' holiday to look after children, but it is sad to sentence them to weeks of full-time holiday camp once their fortnight in the sun with us is over. If only there were a happy medium…
There is. It's called flexible working. Even if you don't have children, it can help you enjoy the summer.
A survey of over 17,000 businesses worldwide, conducted for Regus, found that 80% of employers offer staff some flexibility over where and when they work. As well as cutting commuting times, it improves people's work-life balance – especially during the long summer holidays.
Here are five ideas for using flexible working this summer:
1 Work nearer home Instead of commuting, hot and irritable, to a faraway office, use local business centres for some or all of the week. It will reduce your travelling time and make your working hours more productive. Regus Businessworld customer Tom Cheesewright, a marketing and technology consultant, uses various business centres around Manchester (and in other cities, if he is travelling). This lets him work wherever he needs to be on a particular day – whether that's close to home, close to where he is meeting a client, or close to where he is delivering or collecting his daughter.
2 Change your hours
This works especially well if you combine it with working closer to home. Starting earlier beats the traffic and lets you finish earlier. Equally, starting and finishing later could fit in with children's holiday activities, and still reduce the time spent in rush-hour traffic.
3 Consider a workation
OK, we all know we are meant to switch off on holiday, but better to work some of the time than not to take a holiday at all. The key is to impose rigid rules on yourself: for example, limit yourself to 9-11 each morning, and then disconnect for the rest of the day.
4 Be professional
If you want future opportunities to work flexibly, it is not in your interest to haemorrhage trust. So, work the hours you say you will, and at places with reliable internet, wi-fi and administrative back-up; and work as effectively as – or better than – usual.
5 Embrace technology
If you are not already making full use of technology and connectivity, summer is the time to do it. Video communication could save you from travelling to meetings, for example, and mobile devices and smart pads will help you work and connect with colleagues on the move.
These ideas will help you enjoy a few more hours of sun, and possibly save on childcare bills as well. They could also have longer-lasting results: the changes you make to your working practices this summer could improve your work-life balance and productivity forever.
Celia Donne is regional director at innovative workspace solutions provider, Regus