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People Series – Lizzy Drake-Sloane gives her thoughts on flexible working here at Deloitte

1. What’s your professional background and role in Occupiers & Capital Projects

I am an Assistant Director at Deloitte within the Occupiers and Capital Projects team. I joined Deloitte five years ago from industry where I worked as a Chartered Civil Engineer. Since joining, I have predominantly worked with Public Sector clients where I specialised in Public Sector business cases and Estate / Workforce strategy.

I have found I’ve been able to take the transferrable and problem-solving skills that I developed as an engineer and apply them to a range of situations. I have thoroughly enjoyed my career to-date with Deloitte as it has provided me with a huge variety of work with some really interesting and diverse clients.

Away from work, most of my time is spent attempting to entertain my two-year-old daughter named Hannah. I have spent the last 18 months, since returning from maternity leave working flexibly.

2. How has your flexible working pattern allowed you to adapt as a working parent?

After my maternity leave, I was supported in my decision to return to work on a part-time basis. I currently work Tuesday to Friday and spend Mondays with Hannah. I have found this time invaluable to creating a healthy work / life balance, giving me the additional time that I require with my daughter.

Deloitte has provided me with the support that I have needed in pursuing and adapting to my new flexible working pattern. I am part of the Working Families Network which provides support for parents and carers in juggling work and homelife effectively. This includes access to My Family Care which offers useful information and resources such as emergency backup childcare. I’ve also been provided with a coach who’s external to my Business Unit who’s provided guidance on managing flexible working.

The team and Partners have fully backed my decision to work flexibly and have promoted an inclusive and understanding environment where my alternative working pattern has been respected.

3. How do you manage working flexibly when much of your team work on a full-time basis?

Having been transparent about my home-life commitments, I feel able to make it clear that I am not contactable on my non-working days. I understand that there may be exceptions but as a rule, I am clear on my personal boundaries for that day and time with my daughter.

This includes my requirement to have certain days of the week where I am home in time for nursery pick up. I feel that this transparency and structure that I have around my week has helped to foster a good and trusting relationship between myself and the team.

I have also found that my time in the office is more concentrated now I have fixed ‘bookends’ on my day. As I am unable to start earlier / leave later, I am very focused on being efficient with the time that is available to me. Through scheduling meetings rather than ad-hoc catchups which tend to drift and take up more time, I can manage my calendar more efficiently.

Through regular two-way catchups with directors and Partners, I am confident that my current approach is working. I also take comfort that should it not be working for any reason; I would be supported in making the required changes that I need.

4. What is the best piece of advice you have received when embarking on flexible working?

Block out focused time – for me that is Tuesday morning when I am back in the office after my non-working day. I find that it’s easy to feel behind considering everyone has been busy getting work done on Monday. By blocking out the first hour of the day, I can catch-up on emails and get my brain out of home mode and into the client delivery space.

5. What would your advice be to someone who’s about to start working flexibly?

Firstly, be clear on your requirements for flexible working and communicate your boundaries with your team.

Secondly, be kind to yourself, there will be times when you simply don’t have enough time in the week to get the same level of work completed as you would have if you worked full-time. Recognise and communicate this early.

Finally, be a planner. If you’ve got a deadline coming up and you may need some extra time to deliver it, is there anything that you would be willing to move around to accommodate the deadline (the answer maybe no – be clear on this too!).

If you would like to learn more about the support Deloitte offers to working parents, please see the links below:

Family Friendly Policies| Careers | Deloitte UK

Working Families | Deloitte UK