Career trajectories begun in our 20s rarely factor in the family responsibilities we are likely to have later in life. We choose careers that engage and challenge us and if they require endless travel and round-the-clock attention then so be it. Parenthood often changes our priorities but it doesn’t make us any less passionate about our career. So why should the prioritisation of family, spell the end of professional achievement?
The bespoke work policy at Commercial Eyes enables staff, by arrangement, to work on a casual, part time or full time basis, in the office and from home. This policy has facilitated the return of many skilled pharma professionals to the workforce and enables a balance of family and work responsibilities.
Sue Roberts, Medical Information Consultant at Commercial Eyes, says, “The hours, travel and time commitment in global pharma companies are huge. I was so dedicated to my job pre-children, colleagues were almost surprised I took maternity leave!”
She says, “The arrival of our first child made it clear that the hours I’d been doing weren’t feasible anymore. With limited flexible options at the time, I left the workforce to raise my family.”
Sinead Garret, Senior Market Access Consultant, joined Commercial Eyes after the birth of her first child. She says, “My previous company told me that returning to work part-time simply wasn’t an option (they’ve since moved to a family friendly policy). So when Commercial Eyes offered me around 10 hours work a week, in my field, completed wherever and whenever I could around my family responsibilities, I jumped at the opportunity. I was accepted for my experience and expertise and the flexibility suited my circumstances perfectly.”
Janet Wilson, Senior Market Access Consultant, says, “There’s a disconnect between the responsibilities of parents and the expectation of employers. Lots of companies think they have a family friendly policy when in fact they don’t. They don’t have the insights into what people need. Kids can’t do longer hours at school – that’s not the answer.”
Now expecting her third child, Janet says, ‘The solution is what Commercial Eyes is doing. After a full year off after the birth of each child, the discussion to work out how best I could return to work was sensitively handled. A phased return, combinations of long and short days in the office and the opportunity to work from home have made a balance between my work and family life possible. Continued IT and office management improvements over the years have also made it easier to work from home more efficiently.”
Commercial Eyes’ Managing Director, Andrew Carter, says, “We do our best to identify with the whole person and value the knowledge and expertise they bring to the role.”
He adds, “We want the business to be recognised as a leader, as being different and providing a noteworthy example of how to design a dynamic work place. For us, refusing to be distracted by constraints around availability has been part of that process.”
Sue joined Commercial Eyes once her youngest child started school and says, “If more companies knew how well a flexible working environment worked, they’d do it too. We’re given this opportunity so we want to do the best we can. For us, work is made able to fit in with the rest of our lives. It’s a two-way thing.”
Sinead adds, “I don’t live in Melbourne anymore so although my children are at school now and my availability has increased significantly, the flexibility has enabled me to stay in a job I love, despite a move.”
Sue says, “I think it’s been good for my kids to see me go to work – it’s given them a sense of responsibility and commitment and demonstrates that we all have to get up and get on with things. It’s worked well for us too that my work has not been at the expense of spending time with them.”
She adds, “I’m very lucky to have found this place.”
Click here for The Custom-Fit Workplace: A Two-Way Advantage (part two)