THE BLOG

Of Mobile Mothers and Flexible Fathers... Being More Than Just a 'Weekend Dad'

13/06/2014 12:01 BST | Updated 11/08/2014 10:59 BST

With Father's Day just around the corner and cheesy cards flying off the shelves, many parents will be prompted to think about how much time they really spend with their children. A couple of hours each evening? A bit of quality time at the weekend?

The truth is that in today's always-on, high-performance culture, where the 9 to 5 job is a thing of the past, being there every morning and evening is a luxury that most people just don't have. Being tied to their desks means that parents often miss out on the biggest milestones in their children's development - whether it's the first day at the school gates, the first race on sports day or losing their first tooth.

It's not just Dads who struggle with this. With both parents out of the house, around-the-clock childcare is a growing (and expensive!) industry, while those lucky enough to live near relatives are regularly calling in the favours late at night

But there is a way to make life a bit easier: flexible and remote working, giving parents the option to work from home by giving them access to all the tools, files and information they need. Especially when children are sick (as they often are!) this provides parents with a virtual support network that means they can work as normal around their home life. Using the same phone number across your mobile, desktop and other devices, while accessing and editing shared documents wherever you are, means you're never out of touch - wherever you are.

The technology is already available, whether it's cloud-based solutions or 4G mobile broadband. It's now just a question of employers getting on-board. So if you're a parent who thinks your office may be too attached to 'desk culture', you could be working more productively in a different way. Think about how much time you would save. And how much easier making time for your kids could be.

The result is a more productive workforce, with employees taking fewer sick days, feeling more positive about their jobs, and spending more quality time with their families. We recently ran a survey with YouGov which showed that three-quarters (74%) of today's workers think remote working has helped them address their work-life balance and get greater control over their lives.

Flexible working could also make a sizable difference to the UK economy. Absenteeism alone costs the UK economy £17 billion every year (according to the CBI). Just imagine if we were to reduce this number by just 10 per cent through flexible working solutions. It would translate into a massive £1.7 billion cash injection to the UK economy each year. Beyond absenteeism, that 10% figure applied to parents' lives could release hundreds of hours to be spent reading, playing and running with their children.

The truth is there's only one chance for parents to see their kids grow up. You're not going to see your kids walk or talk for the first time from your desk. Given the advantages for employees, businesses and the wider economy, it's high time the UK did more to embrace flexible fathers and mobile mothers.