Feeling the ‘mam guilt’ - Sunderland businesswoman Katie Bulmer-Cooke wants to hear your views on flexible working

BBC Apprentice star Katie Bulmer-Cooke.
BBC Apprentice star Katie Bulmer-Cooke.

Since having my second baby just before Christmas, I’ve taken a particular interest in the concept of flexible working.

As a self-employed person, my work life has always been flexible to a point but maternity leave is not something I’ve ever been able to enjoy to the full.

Whether you’re employed as a part or full-time worker, or running your own business, big or small, the ability to juggle family and work life is never easy.

There are so many factors to consider, from childcare and it’s associated costs (especially if you don’t have family and friends who can help you out) to the dreaded ‘mam guilt’ (which can equally apply to dads, grandparents and carers).

For those who don’t know what ‘mam guilt’ is, it’s something everyone who is responsible for a baby or child experiences for one reason or another, with one of the most common reasons being trying to juggle motherhood and a career.

Essentially you feel guilty when you’re working because you feel like you should be with your kids and likewise, if you’re not giving your career some attention or clocking up the hours (and therefore the income), you feel guilty that you’re either neglecting your business and/or not providing for your family.

Flexible working is a model that is gaining increased popularity and attention in the media, and offers a way of working that suits the employee’s needs, for example flexible start and finish times, and the option to work from home.

A great example of this would be working from 9.30am to 2.30pm, to accommodate school drop-off and pick-up and then working for several hours at home, in the evening when your children have gone to bed.

While this example may not suit the needs of every business or employer, it is definitely a way of opening up new opportunities for people to get back into work or even keep people in work...and maintain a happy workforce.

If more businesses could open up the opportunity of flexible working for their current staff it could prevent them from losing excellent employees, who, due to changes in their lives outside of work, need more flexibility than that offered by a traditional nine to five role.

Equally, there are many parents and carers for example, who find themselves unable to get back into work because they can’t afford childcare or don’t have any family members who can help out.

As a result, businesses are potentially missing out on great talent and very employable people simply because of how the working day is structured.

With this in mind, wouldn’t it be great if more Sunderland businesses adopted this style of working in a bid to reduce unemployment in the city?

Equally, employees can have the right to request flexible working too.

If a balance between the needs of the employee and the needs of the business can be found, this could have a powerful impact on employment in the city.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject...tweet me @KatieBulmer1.