We’ve been told flexible working is only for those who work in an office and it was not possible in the manufacturing or retail industry. There are some obvious barriers, we can not make a kitchen from our back shed at home, you need to be in the workshop with colleagues and retail is done face-to-face with clients. But flexible working does not just mean working from home and we were determined to find a way to make it work.
To be honest, we couldn’t find any examples of other manufacturing companies in the UK offering flexible working right now, so we had to make it up ourselves. After lots of planning, we launched a flexible working policy for the team earlier this month. It is far from perfect, but it’s a start in an industry that is dominated by traditional companies (that don’t often like to shake things up).
The average age in carpentry and joinery is over 40, it is an industry struggling to train younger people in the craft. We also hope that bringing in flexible working (as well as strong parental leave and other policies), helps bridge the gap and makes the area more appealing as a career choice. One that celebrates and values creativity, craftsmanship and problem solving.
Flexible working is not just for parents (although it can help with managing childcare), but is for everyone. So far 1/4 the team have decided to work condensed days. With their spare day they are taking courses, learning new skills, exploring their hobbies or just using the extra day to spend time with friends and family.
It’s a learning curve, but if our little family business can find a way to do it, it’s possible for any business. If you’re another small business and want to share any tips or interested in how we put together our policy- please get in touch! We are so happy to share our experience and learn/shake up this industry together.