Last Friday, a flash mob descended on Trafalgar Square to highlight how both mothers and businesses are struggling to benefit from flexible working.
Organised by parenting blog MotherPukka, alongside workspace provider Regus, this Trafalgar Square takeover was just one of many flexible working promotion events taking place nationwide.
Recent changes to employment legislation mean that anyone who has been in their job for more than six months can request flexible working.
However, a 2016 Digital Mums workplace report suggests that 60% of mothers do not have access to flexible working practices.
Anna Whitehouse, Founder of MotherPukka, explained that many UK businesses are missing out on the skills that mothers could offer.
Whitehouse said: “The nine-to-five can be very limiting for many professionals – particularly mums with a young family. This is a call for UK businesses to show their flex appeal – to get flexible and to not disregard talented women just because they don’t fit the rigid fixed-hours mould.”
Whitehouse believes that lots of mothers feel unable to return to work because they wouldn’t be able to fit nine-to-five hours into their days.
Some businesses do have flexible working structures in place. Last year, coffee chain Leon introduced "parent shifts" to help mothers and fathers to balance working with parental responsibility.
A 2015 Timewise survey found that 70% of mothers were desperate to return to work, to utilise their skills and experience - but, of that 70%, all were looking for part-time hours.
Speaking exclusively to Executive Grapevine, Richard Morris, UK CEO at Regus, said: “With the budget announcement bringing the issue of returning employees to the fore once again, the onus is on businesses to re-evaluate working models to ensure that skilled employees are not discouraged [from returning].
"Indeed, the concept of flexible working is one that appeals to employees across the board – not just those returning from an extended period of time-off. If the focus on returning employees triggers a change to a more flexible approach for all employees, the result will be a workforce that is happier, more motivated and more equipped to produce its best work.”
Video credit: Sarah O-Mahoney-Zed, Marketing Manager at Regus.