When people ask me what I do, I get a lot of praise. You see I run a tech start up from home which I developed to ensure I had flexibility to be around for my family. I can help with the school run, and take my kids to the park and be a hands on Dad. I have noticed however, that because I am a Dad choosing this way of working, people think I'm, well, a bit of a saint. I'm not sure my wife agrees with this, she also works from home and could probably do with some praise and recognition herself. Yet, no one seems that 'wowed' by a woman working around her children.
I am in fact the lucky one and I am grateful to all the parenting entrepreneurs who came before me to make this way of working reality, and I would like to see it become normality.
I started my business, FanFinders, back in 2013, after being saturated with spam mail because my wife joined a parenting club when we had our son. It was such mindless and off target marketing that being a 'tech guy,' I couldn't help but think something could be done to make this marketing relevant. FanFinders owns and operates Your Baby Club, a value exchange concept to align brands with families who wanted to hear from them. Now, as we drawn and end to 2016, FanFinders can boast a parenting club with over 1 million Mums, a highly commended award from Startups.co.uk and a central London office staffed with clever and creative people who are not judged on their ability to sit at a desk past 6pm.
I do not use the office as I still work from home, and home is Yorkshire. I wouldn't have it any other way as I can still be 'in' the office on a daily basis via a multitude of different platforms, and the team and myself are in constant communication (Thank you, technology.) I can do the school run and take my boys to after school activities - I don't miss out on the important stuff. This way of working allows my wife and I to be a team, and all parenting responsibilities are shared, and yet I seem to get a lot more credit than she does.
Women have been working around their children for centuries, and if you are a working woman you may feel there is an almost unspoken rule which puts the (majority?!) weight of the parental responsibilities on your shoulders Monday- Friday. This is not a sweeping statement that says this is 100% true of all families but I certainly sense from my friends, colleagues and other networks that out dated values still loom in our ultra-modern world. I believe that this is why people are so amazed when I tell them I work from home to work around my children. No one is amazed that my wife also works around the children. I am in awe of my wife and all that she does at work, home and with the children, and I am privileged that I am around to see it. I am more productive and happier when I can work around my family, and I want to give my staff work that works too.
At FanFinders we judged people on their ability to produce good work, not sit on a chair past 6pm. It's win-win for employee and employer: in most cases, flexible working means happier staff, lower costs and greater productivity.
I am an advocate of flexible working for parents, and I believe that women have paved the way for men folk like me to be able to consider this path. I would like to give a nod to Mother Pukka for her Flex appeal campaign and I urge more employers to consider flexible working for parents.
Alec Dobbie is a husband, father and the founder of FanFinders, the owners and operators of Your Baby Club. Your Baby Club is a value exchange site which connects families with brands they want to hear from with exclusive deals, discounts and samples. Alec also operates Your Baby Box, a sampling program which delivers over 5000 boxes of samples and goodies free of charge to new and expecting mums in the UK.