Rachael Moss of Covéa highlights how important
flexibility and employer support have been when balancing her work
and home life
Have you ever read an article and thought 'that's me'? I did
recently. The article was entitled 'Double guilt for working
mothers' and, as the title suggests, it relayed insight from a
study that showed more working mothers than ever are trapped in an
endless cycle of guilt: feeling they are bad mothers because they
work and bad employees because they have a family.
Our desire to be all things to all people is greater than ever
before - wanting to devote ourselves to our children and witness
every milestone while also aspiring to have fulfilling and
rewarding careers at the same time. So the question is: can we
really have it all?
I've crammed a lot into the last few years with a promotion, new
house, marriage, two children… but I'm sure that's no different to
many reading this. I also have an elderly mother with ill health
and hold power of attorney for my grandmother-in-law, now 94, so
the demands on me to wear varying hats on a daily basis are
endless. I believe I'm just a typical 30-something with
responsibilities and commitments aside from my job, but how am I
able to fulfil all these demands and hold down a rewarding and
fulfilling career? For me, the key is flexibility - and I can't
underestimate its importance in my life.
The key was finding a blueprint to achieve a work/life/baby
balance that worked for me and my manager - one that meant I could
be a good working mum, remain committed to the same deliverables,
embrace opportunities and hold the same career aspirations I had
pre-children. And the solution to this was greater flexibility.
Here's how it works for me and my manager:
- Change in job role - I agreed to a change in job role on my
return, which meant I no longer had line manager responsibility. As
such, I didn't need to be in the office a certain number of hours
or days as I had no direct reports who needed my support in the
office. My new role is still within the same department, but I
focus on projects and content management that can be planned
- Decreased working hours - my manager agreed to a flexible
working contract where I work 26 hours flexibly over four days,
typically completing two longer days and two shorter days.
- Trust and managing expectations - key to flexibility is trust;
if I need to work from home, my manager supports me, as do the
various other stakeholders who I work with. So long as I dial into
meetings on time, deliver the same standard of work and meet my
deadlines, it's not vital to be at my desk at all times.
- Being flexible - If something crops up or there is an urgent
deliverable, I will negotiate childcare and support the priority.
It's important that I can support my companyin the same way they
support me and my family.
All of these things probably seem completely obvious, logical
and rational but for me, the more explicit I could be in what was
achievable and what support I needed in my family life, the less
stress or guilt I feel when I get up and leave the office at
2.30pm, or where I'm working from home but offline for a couple of
Needless to say, loyalty does count for a lot - my husband and I
have worked for Covéa Insurance for 30 years between us. They are
fabulously flexible and understand the pitfalls we face as working
parents. They also know that we'll work flat out and be as flexible
as we can when the business needs us to be - even if that's on an
evening or from home. But if one of us needs to get to the office
late, leave early, take time off when one of our children is ill,
book a chunk of annual leave in the summer holidays, or dash off in
the middle of the day because one of our boys is sick, then that's
So, as for the article I referred to at the beginning, there may
be feelings of guilt from time to time, there may be days where I
drop the juggling balls and there may be days where I miss a
milestone, but equally there will be many opportunities to feel
fulfilled. Being a working mum, for me, gives me balance and it
means I get the best of both worlds. My life doesn't t revolve
around my children (don't get me wrong, I adore them) but I'm also
independent of them too, so when they grow up and need me less and
less, I won't be left feeling empty and lost as they lead their
lives - I'll still have my fabulously flexible work life and the
wonderful team I have around me there.
Rachael Moss is corporate communications lead at Covéa