The Solutions Series investigates flexible working

The Solutions Series returned yesterday to bring you the third instalment of the #WorkEqual series of events. The topic for Thursday’s panel discussion was the role flexible working can play in achieving gender equality.

Watch it back…

If you missed our discussion about flexible working, you can catch up with the full recording below.

WorkEqual campaign founder, Sonya Lennon, opened the session by giving a special thanks to some fabulous women who raised WorkEqual and related issues in the political sphere over the last week: Senator Ivana Bacik, TDs Emer Currie and Holly Cairns, and Councillor Eva Dowling all used their platform to help advance the conversation.

Economist and media commentator, Stephen Kinsella, was our vibrant MC for the discussion. Stephen noted the importance of flexible working, particularly in the context of labour markets in Ireland over the last few decades and welcomed the solutions-focused work of the WorkEqual campaign.

Dr Orlaigh Quinn, Secretary General of the Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation was our first speaker. Her department published a document focusing on remote working in 2019, and she highlighted the changes we continue to face this year in relation to remote and flexible working. “We see huge possibilities and huge benefits, but we also see concerns”, said Dr Quinn.

She highlighted that the civil service has offered flexible work options for a long time, but that it is predominantly women availing of this. “We can’t have a situation where more women are taking advantage of flexible working and men are not.”

The Solutions Series received a special Māori welcome as our next speaker joined the WorkEqual panel all the way from Auckland, New Zealand. Andrew Barnes, founder of the 4 Day Week campaign highlighted his experience of implementing a four-day working week with his own company, and helping other companies do the same.

His company work on a rule of 100-80-100: 100% pay for 80% time, provided employees give 100% productivity. Andrew was inspired to move to the four-day week by mothers returning to work, who he says are often the most productive and have the best time management skills.

Margaret Cox, Director of I.C.E Group, further strengthened the case for a four day week, stating her company has experienced increases in wellness, productivity, turnover and amazingly zero unplanned illness days as employees are fitter, energised and more focused.

The three-day weekend, as Margaret calls it, has provided for the sharing of caring duties among her employees.

Our final speaker was Sue Ferns, Senior Deputy General Secretary of Prospect Trade Union, who gave us a great insight to the situation in the UK. Sue outlined that a survey of public-sector workers in the UK found that 90% felt trusted to work from home; 90% said they wanted flexible hours post-COVID and 80% stated they would like to continue with some form of remote working.

Next up…..

You can catch the next instalment of The Solutions Series on Thursday, 19th November, when we explore ‘How the value placed on caring contributes to gender equality at work’. We have national and international experts on board for the debate, so be sure to put it in the diary! You can register for the event and see the full panel line-up here.