Top tips on working flexibly

Louise Ball, Tax Recruitment Manager, works flexibly in her own role and provides her advice on how you can make it work.

As a working mum with two children, my priorities towards my career have obviously changed. EY have been wonderfully supportive with regards to flexible working and it was refreshing that we had the conversation about working patterns during my very first interview. It’s all about being pragmatic and demonstrating flexibility on both sides. Whilst my normal working pattern is to arrive early in the office and then leave early I know when, on occasion, I will need to stay late and make the necessary alternative arrangements without being told to!

Below are my top tips on working flexibly

  • The assumption that flexible working is really just about part time working arrangements for mums and dads still persists but actually there’s a whole bunch of reasons why you may want to work more flexibility even if you’re not a parent … and just as many ways of achieving a work life balance, outside of part time hours, that would suit you. (Don’t assume flexible working is not for you if you’re not a working parent).

  • By the same token, don’t assume all working mums have to achieve a reduction in their working hours to work flexibly. During the first few years I worked at EY, and whilst my children were pre-school age, I was working full time but staggered my hours to start early and finish early.

  • Take the initiative and open up the conversation with your employer – they’re not mind readers and you won’t know whether you can come to an agreement about a flexible working pattern until you’ve had a proper discussion.

  • Flexibility has to be a two sided arrangement for it to work successfully – from time to time you’ll need to put the needs of the business first just as sometimes your personal or family needs will have to come first.

  • Whether you have an informal or formal arrangement in place don’t be reluctant to question whether the arrangement still works for you (and your employer). Circumstances, and roles, change and the working pattern you agreed say 18 months ago may no longer work for you or your employer. Since both my children started school I now do staggered hours and work morning’s only on a Friday.

To find out more about Flexible working at EY, visit our Future Is Flexible website 

Career summary to date

After leaving Leeds University with a BA Hons. Degree in English Literature. Like a number of arts graduates I wasn’t entirely sure what to do next! One of the part times jobs I’d enjoyed whilst an undergraduate was working in a House of Fraser department store (Menswear and their Christmas shop!) and this, admittedly minimal, retail experience coupled with having no particular vocational calling prompted me to apply for a couple of generalist graduate retail management training schemes.

I successfully secured a few offers and chose to take on the role with Sainsbury’s Supermarkets on their graduate manager training programme. My first role, based in one of the supermarket’s busiest London flagship stores, can only be described as a baptism of fire! Not feeling too confident, in my very first management role, I initially found it challenging to be directing teams of people often the same age as me but as I progressed on the training scheme I found the retail environment to be hugely enjoyable – buzzy, commercial and fast paced - it was a fantastic (and fascinating) place to learn about and observe different working styles and start to hone my own people management skills.

Towards the end of the year I started to think about other opportunities within the company and this further stimulated my interest in human resources. I moved to head office to take up an administrator role with the Graduate Recruitment team (having gone through a few selection and assessments to obtain my first role I was interested in the mechanics behind graduate recruitment programmes). I was very lucky - Sainsbury’s sponsored to me undertake the CIPD qualification and also my level A and B qualifications too. Applying my knowledge and expertise of psychometric testing and assessments into recruitment and selection processes is something I continue to be interested in.

Over the next few years I was able to employ my HR learning practically as I acquired experience in a number of broader based HR roles moving outside of the retail environment into financial services, with the London Stock Exchange, and then telecoms (with T-Mobile/EE). I found that I was increasingly focusing on the recruitment elements of HR and in recent years this is where I have specialised.

  • Louise Ball

About the author

Louise is a Recruitment Manager for EY. She plans and delivers effective recruitment strategies for our UK&I Tax practice.