Flexible – my middle name

So, today we celebrate the benefits of flexible working. Let me state the reasons I love thee!

First, what do we mean by ‘flexible working’? I think today it incorporates what we call ‘part-time’ as well as, for example, different start/finish times, compressed hours, term time… there are so many different flavours of flexible. But for me, it’s all about getting the right work/life balance – what is right for the individual.

pabloNot only do I work flexibly, I manage a team who you could all class as flexible workers. We all have different arrangements, for different reasons, and it all works brilliantly. A combo of our partners working hours, children, other businesses and outside interests mean we need to work differently than 9 to 5.

May we live in interesting times

In a world where you can go shopping on a sunday (not exactly new, I know) and you can communicate with businesses all over the world at any time of the day or night, we live 24/7 – everything is on all the time. Technology and modern expectations are demanding changes in the way we work, but it also enables us to work differently to fit those expectations. My email and calendar are synced to my phone (it also helps me not be late for meetings!) and so even when I’m not technically working, I am available and able to work when I need to. My broadband speed at home is often quicker than when my laptop is docked at work. My laptop means I can work wherever I happen to be, and so yes, it can blur into my live… but I happen to be pretty passionate about what I do, so actually that helps me to be less anxious about it as I’m able to do things when I think about them, not waiting til I’m back in the office. This works for me.

Now obviously there are job roles that require attendance (Waitrose Partners who work in store do need to be there, physically) and others have set hours (think of Nurses – set hours are essential to enable continuity of care of patients) but for most ‘office’ jobs the tech available allows more flexibility – working from home, call forwarding, VPN, web cams and  video conferencing – it’s just about trusting people to do their jobs when you can’t actually see them. I know individuals who are much more productive when they’re working from home – so let them. The less we focus on 9 to 5, and more we can focus on what gets done, and then we can be more flexible and accommodating to the real world and demands of life and businesses now and beyond.

And that’s my point – utilise the tech, find the right balance and work with it. Everyone is individual and therefore have different needs – communicate with staff to find what works for them and make that work. As the days, months, years go by, flexible will be the norm and 9 to 5 will be archived to the past.

Oh, and that’s without me starting on what type of person you are! Take the guardian’s personality test for some insights. And the marvellous Robyn has something to say about flexible working, too… Find more on Twitter:


Cats v Dogs

As I type, there is an alluring rumble from under my desk. Nope, I’m not hungry, it’s my ginger cat  (Spot) signalling he wants a stroke. And I will contort myself to fuss him, even though he sits just out of reach, and after about 32 seconds (or a length of time of his choosing) he will get up and bugger off to the conservatory to ignore me until dinner time. This is normal cat/owner behavior…

So, yes, I am here to state the case that cats are most definitely better than dogs*. Desperate for a subject to blog about, I blurted “cats v dogs” as a challenge to Robyn (see the Dog side of the argument on Robyn’s blog). This is actually really hard for me (see * below…) but as currently I am owned by cats, here goes…

We had cats (and dogs) in the house when I was a kid, and they made me want to be a vet (I also wanted to marry Simon le Bon… I’m still waiting for him to ditch Yasmin and gimme a call) just so I could help cats. Not house cats. No, I wanted to help lions and tigers and cheetahs and jaguars. And it was all because I’d seen big cats on nature programmes and those big cats were exactly the same as the little cats in my house. Just… bigger. Wow! I was hooked.

Jaffa and Phoebe. Busy as usual.

When I left home and had three jobs to pay my mortgage, it became apparent I definitely couldn’t have a dog. They need walking and are needy and totally dependent. Whereas cats allow you to adopt them, fuss them when they want but they can pretty much get on with life without much looking after. Well obviously some looking after is required, but you get the gist. So I got a cat. Um, I actually got two kittens because they were just so cute and furry…


Nessie and Spot. So tiny!

Skip forward to present day… I’ve loved and lost Jaffa and Phoebe, those cute, mental, moody, bonkers, affectionate, lazy, fur-shedding moggies and have another two. Nessie and Spot – just as cute, mental, moody… (you get the picture) yet TOTALLY DIFFERENT to the other two. I am constantly amazed and delighted at their wildly different personalities and behaviors.

Spot should have been called Hulk (“Smash”) and ruins all notions that cats are clever, stealthy or graceful. He would fall off a rug if it wasn’t on the floor. Nessie is delicate, quiet and looks at her brother with absolute disdain. (If I could get her librarian glasses to peer over, I would.) However, bring a bit of Canadian catnip in the house and she bounces off the walls for hours. They bring me comfort and cuddles, they arse around the house and sleep in the best spots, refuse to go out and get jobs, but I wouldn’t be without them.

Cats. They own me.

(Of course you can chase your own tail, fall off a step and get away with it by rolling over and being cute)

* please note, I am owned by cats but love dogs just as much. However, my overlord cats won’t allow me to have a  “privy-carpet smelling fleabag” in the house…

Tolerance and balance

I’m not a watcher of morning tv, but in researching something else I discovered some clips of Katie Hopkins being interviewed. Now, I know they just pull her into these discussions because she plays the controversial card, but the video below has made my blood boil for a number of reasons.

It’s a shame that Rachel started off on the back foot – she could have been much more positive about being a plus-sized woman, I know I’d have responded quite differently on a few questions. However, towards the end she started to hold her own.

As a plus-size woman: I have never struggled to find a partner, and never felt pressured to change my size to please that other person; my hatred of going to a gym  is not based on laziness and is not an excuse not to exercise, it’s the misguided and judgemental looks and opinions I receive from others that put me off that form of exercise; I’m not in denial – I know exactly what I weigh and what dress size I am, and I’m sure that’s the same for women in general, and I don’t use it as an excuse to eat what I want and not be in control.

The show also did nothing to support the argument – some images of a variety of shapes and sizes of beautiful people would have been helpful.

Can we please have some balanced media coverage on this? Our social norms are skewed so much by advertising, talk shows and misjudged remarks, it’s no surprise that probably 99% of women out there want to lose (or gain) a few lbs.

Have you read/watched some balanced, sensible coverage of weight -v- happiness issues? Please do share…