Attitudes towards flexible working must change – it must become the norm


Article by Niki Addison, Customer Success Director at Babble

17 years ago, just four months after the birth of my daughter, I had to return to work from maternity leave.

I requested to move to a four-day working week at the company, but it was rejected. I had to go back five days a week, work long hours and deal with a strenuous commute.

When my second child was born 12 years later, I was already working four days a week at a tech company, which prided itself on flexibility and its people. My productivity wasn’t affected by the shorter working week. Since then, I’ve learned that in most cases, shorter working weeks have little to no impact on productivity.

My taking on a managing director role four days a week, without affecting the business, changed how I approached recruitment. I soon realised that giving opportunities to the right person for a role was more important than where, when, and how they worked.

All I look for is a smart, focused and responsible person. I just don’t understand why a business wouldn’t go for someone like that. Regardless of where and how many hours they work, their business impact is going to be huge. Those who are working shorter weeks will generally be productive because they don’t have the luxury of going at a slower pace. While we tailor a role to fit in with less hours, this doesn’t mean less responsibility, just a slightly different scope of work If, as a business, you don’t think like that then you’re missing out on incredible talent.

Flexibility also provides you with the benefit of a happy workforce who know they never have to ask if they can take two hours out of their day for their child’s nativity play or sports day, for example. At Babble, staff don’t need to ask management – they just put it in their diary and go. We trust that person will pick up any tasks later in the day, no questions asked. Client meetings can be moved, and I trust my team to pick up their work at the right time. If they were ill, they’d need to move the client meeting – so what’s the difference? I trust them to judge what simply cannot wait what can be moved. If I don’t trust them to do their job, why are they in the job in the first place?

As a mother, and speaking from experience, any other option leads to guilt. You either have mum guilt, or the guilt of knowing you’ve snuck off to watch the play or attend sports day. Neither sits well with me personally. Our way, the right way, keeps talent in organisations and industries and builds trust and honesty with staff.

And this isn’t just for working parents. If an employee who doesn’t have children wants to change their working patterns, it’s an equally valid request. . My only consideration is what impact it has on our business, and can we facilitate this? If we can, then we should, because the colleague’s wellbeing is the most important consideration.

The pandemic has brought about a lot of talk about four day working weeks, hybrid work and more. However, we’d fostered flexible work pre-pandemic and weren’t forced into a major change when it came to flexibility. Of course, there was an impact when we were all made to work from home full time, but not in the same way as most businesses across the country.

However, the wider working world is going to have to get ready for this flexibility now people are returning to offices.  Employers must begin to anticipate questions and know how their wider industry is dealing with similar questions. It wouldn’t sit well with me if the business I worked for didn’t accommodate this flexibility.

In fact, if your industry doesn’t believe in flexibility, people will leave and find something they can do on their terms. If employers are going to be tough about this, they’ve got to accept they will lose people. And that’s going to impact their industry over time. Flexibility is the answer to retaining and attracting this talent.

It is true that technology has made it harder to switch off in some ways, but the flipside is that it has also made flexible working possible. Technology is only going to become more adaptable, and it would be strange if our working patterns didn’t keep up with this evolution. With the right parameters in place, technology should be something which empowers you to live the lifestyle you choose, rather than a sap on your energy and time.

When I made the request to work flexibly, 17 years ago, deep down I knew it’d be rejected. I know I don’t ever want to be in a position where I have to turn down a similar request from a colleague – I know what it’s like to be in their shoes.

Returning to WFH: Three things companies can do to make hybrid work a success in 2022

Virtual interview, Remote interview, Zoom call

Article by Helena Nimmo, Chief Information Officer at Endava

Many organisations were forced to remodel their operations as a result of the pandemic, and CIOs like myself were tasked with leading the shift of employees from on-site to remote work, all within days.

The immediate priority for many businesses was to implement new digital solutions that would allow employees to communicate and complete their work remotely, which prompted many organisations to completely rethink their operations. And now, with uncertainty lingering amid the spread of new variants and changing government guidelines, enabling employees to work from anywhere continues to pose a critical challenge for business leaders.

And as we emerge from our next wave of mandated work-from-home, the hybrid work model will only continue to gain popularity due to the flexibility it offers employees. So how can businesses address these challenges while empowering employees to work successfully from anywhere, regardless of what’s happening in the world? It boils down to three distinct themes: balancing the digital user experience, guaranteeing security, and embracing continuous change.

The user is the key

The importance of user-centricity cannot be overstated. Companies must consider who their staff are when selecting the tech, they’ll be using on a day-to-day basis. This is a hugely underestimated step but think about it: people’s working styles are shaped by their ever-changing personal circumstances. A parent, for example, will have significantly different work schedule than a new graduate living in a flat share. People’s ability to quickly adapt to new technology will also vary depending on their previous experience with the technology in issue, and businesses must take this into account in order to successfully assist the adoption of new technologies.

Ensure a secure environment

Security is top-of-mind for businesses. And because of that, they must alter their compliance operations while staff work from home, co-working spaces, or coffee shops as offices shut due to Plan B.

Most compliance standards assume that most workers will be based in the office full-time, which means that businesses have their work cut out for them in making employees’ home offices compliant with stringent regulatory requirements. These seemingly out-dated procedures will need to be updated, and new rules and technologies will need to be introduced to adapt to the realities of hybrid work as we re-enter and exit WFH mandates.

But employers aren’t alone; employees also have a part to play in this process and need to be educated about cybersecurity dangers like phishing e-mails to keep themselves and their companies safe-at-home.

Embrace change

Ultimately the key to successful digital working, whether from home, hybrid, or in office, is continuous technological development.

While the pandemic pushed many enterprises to update their technology almost immediately in order to adapt to new circumstances, the path forward should be one of continuous innovation. Instead of seeking to achieve a certain – and oftentimes unattainable – end-goal, businesses’ digital journeys should be ongoing and use what I call “digital acceleration” rather than a drastic one-time transformation. Thus, upgrades and enhancements are introduced in much smaller steps, avoiding a complete overhaul and overburdening staff and IT systems. As a result, employees are the focus of the digital strategy, ensuring that new technology is actually beneficial to them, and businesses can examine and upgrade their tech stack according to their needs on a regular basis.

With the spread of Omicron and the newly implemented work from home order in the UK, uncertainty around work will likely continue well into 2022 as regulations remain in flux. Being proactive and implementing hybrid work policies that are adaptable for all employees will simplify the pivot for businesses in case of guideline changes, allowing them to accelerate or decelerate as needed. Enterprises should take inventory to determine where they are on their digital journey, assess what works and what doesn’t, and adjust course accordingly, as changes implemented at the beginning of the pandemic now need further refinement.

Ultimately, business leaders will be able to determine how to best support each employee in a hybrid environment according to their needs. From there, companies can work out how to build a strong infrastructure that suits their business needs and employees.

Helena NimmoAbout the author

Before embarking on her tech journey, Helena studied Business, Economics and Marketing. She got her start in tech when she joined Nokia in the 1990s and has since worked in customer facing and internal technology functions at Cancer Research UK, Fujitsu, and Thomson Reuters. Most recently, she took up the position of CIO at Endava, the global technology company delivering digital evolution, agile transformation, and automation solutions where she holds global responsibility for Internal Tech across the Endava Group and focuses on re-imagining the relationship between technology and people.

Muslim woman working from home, flexible working featured

Why working from home has been great for women in STEM

Muslim woman working from home, flexible workingI know from my own experience as well as what my female peers and former students tell me, that some young women who have completed further education in science, technology or engineering subjects find the work environment they enter as graduates to be very male dominated and in some cases quite intimidating.

This can lead to dissatisfaction at work, not progressing up the career ladder as they might and even career changes out of the industry.

Working from home, as the vast majority of people in all sectors including STEM have been doing on a global scale during lockdown, can mitigate against this. While the challenges of working from home – remote inductions for new starters, limited opportunities for team creativity e.g., brainstorms and bouncing ideas off other people, social isolation and never ending video conference calls – have been widely discussed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, working from home can actually be hugely beneficial for young women in STEM careers especially. Not only can it help to build their confidence during the early-career stage, it is also suitable for those who are more introverted and prefer to be an individual contributor at work rather than a team player.

I suspect that companies which allow and even encourage employees to work from home where possible in the long term will find that this is seen as an attractive incentive for young women establishing their careers in STEM. The importance of doing so is clear as the number of women currently working in STEM careers in the UK is depressingly low at less than 15% despite the fact that more women are studying technical subjects at higher education level.

At the mid-career stage, the flexibility of being able to work from home can be hugely attractive to those women who are juggling career and family, meaning that companies offering this are likely to retain more female employees than those that don’t. From my own industry experience, I know that many electronic engineering jobs and tasks, especially those in design and more specifically in IC design, as well as work in planning and conceptualisation phases can be done from home. I therefore cannot see any good reason for female and male employees engaged in these roles, or these tasks for part of a project, not to be able to work from home if that is their preference.

Of course, I appreciate that working from home does not work for everybody, for example those with young children being cared for by someone else in the home during the working day may find the close proximity distracting, and others prefer to break up their working day with a commute, change of scenery and more varied lunch options. The crucial factor is that companies develop flexible cultures and policies that cater to different staff needs and preferences and can evolve as individual circumstances change over time. During lockdown this has particularly meant more flexibility and tolerance for both female and male staff who have been balancing childcare and home-schooling responsibilities while working from home. This kind of support is crucial in encouraging more women into engineering careers and to stick with those careers.

For me personally, the main reason I switched from industry to become an educator was to gain a better work/life balance. I saw that in order for women to secure leadership roles in STEM companies a huge amount of time needed to be invested at work and out of hours, and that this was particularly challenging when working in a global organisation requiring meetings to be attended with multiple teams working across different time zones. Being able to do at least some of this from home would be hugely beneficial to women like I was at that point in my career and I think would result in fewer changing careers.

One challenge to working from home that I have heard from STEM companies regarding highly sensitive design work, is how to protect intellectual property outside of the office space and secure corporate VPN and cloud storage connection. Developing a “Work from home” policy that includes measures for protecting company information is one achievable solution, and one that I believe is well worth making given that the prize is more women entering and staying in the industry and contributing their attentiveness and tenacity which make them great assets.

Pooh LingAbout the author

Pooh Ling E is an Assistant Professor at NMITE (New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering). She graduated with 1st class honours as a Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2000. She then spent six years working in the electronics and semiconductor industry before completing a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Nottingham, followed by a further two years in industry. During this time Pooh Ling developed skills in NI LabVIEW, MATLAB, Product Development, Research and Development (R&D), IC (Integrated Circuit) testing, communication system testing and validation and has five years teaching experience prior to joining NMITE.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here

woman remote working on video conference

How to get a remote working role in tech

By Verónica Miñano, Head of Talent Acquisition, Kwalee

woman remote working on video conferenceOne of the great benefits of working in the tech industries, and something that has been brought into even greater focus during the global COVID-19 pandemic, is the potential in these roles for remote working.

With tools like Slack and Zoom already commonplace, there are many opportunities for tech-savvy professionals to build their careers beyond the traditional office setting as employers become increasingly open to remote applicants.

This includes ourselves at Kwalee, as we have made a commitment to embracing remote work indefinitely following our productivity while working under restrictions related to the virus.

So if you’re looking for a role in tech but you believe that your future lies outside of the traditional office setting, here are my top tips for identifying and securing the right remote-working opportunity for you!

#1 Identify your role

It almost goes without saying, but even within tech, some roles are better suited to remote work than others.

In our experience of transitioning to remote work over these turbulent past few months, we have had some individuals and teams whose roles rely more heavily on in-person collaboration and they have been extremely keen to return to our office.

Others, meanwhile, have had very little trouble adapting and have enjoyed the productivity and comfort of working from home. This is why we have begun our foray into permanent remote work by opening only certain vacancies to remote candidates, and you will find across the board that there is more openness to working from home when it comes to certain positions.

Think about the tasks you are expected to perform every day in your job and whether you would be able to perform them as effectively in a remote setting. If you conclude that this isn’t the case and yet remain committed to pursuing remote work, you might consider switching to an adjacent discipline requiring a similar skillset, but with more opportunities for working from home.

Speak to friends or colleagues who have made the transition to remote work to learn more about how the nature of their work changed when they moved away from the office and consider whether you would be willing to make such changes yourself. An employer will want to know you have given serious consideration to this transition, so show them you are ready to take responsibility!

#2 Find a supportive employer

Just as employers expect certain things from their remote-working employees, you should find a company that will be willing to support you -- wherever you make your workspace.

For instance, while continuing to grow our team throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have been making sure to send any necessary office equipment to team members who need them, to make their temporary workspaces more comfortable.

Just because you’re not working at the office, you should not feel disconnected from the rest of the team! As a parent, I am 100% understanding of why remote working holds such appeal for some people and we want team members to feel valued wherever they are based.

Make sure that your employer is of this mindset and is prepared to give you the necessary support to do your job.

#3 Seek inspiration and start a side project

This one is particularly relevant if you are not currently working in the industry you’re pursuing a role in, but seek out role models who are currently working in your ideal roles and see how they use platforms like LinkedIn.

Look out for any insights they share on how they got into their positions and see what you can learn from them.

It will also be a big help to have a side project that’s more aligned with your desired field, if you’re looking to change careers. For instance, when hiring game designers we are always just as keen to see what they have made in their spare time as well as any formal training they have done.

This is even more applicable when it comes to remote roles, since having worked on something in your own time shows that you can be productive and motivated outside a traditional working environment!

Our team at Kwalee is growing all the time and you can find all our open positions, including our remote working opportunities, here.

Verónica MiñanoAbout the author

With more than a decade of HR and recruitment experience, first in the engineering industry and more recently in gaming, Verónica Miñano has built Kwalee’s Talent Acquisition team from scratch and has overseen the company more than tripling in size in less than four years. She is passionate about how different personalities and skill-sets can be best combined to create a harmonious and creative working environment.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here

woman video calling while working on laptop, staying digitally connected 1

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic through a digitally connected workplace

woman video chatting while working on laptop, staying digitally connected

Article provided by Nerys Mutlow, Evangelist, Chief Innovation Office at ServiceNow

We’re living through unprecedented times and companies are trying to navigate their way through long periods of uncertainty.

As a result of COVID-19, business continuity is now at the forefront of every company’s agenda. Yet while business leaders cannot manage the pandemic itself, they can determine how their companies adapt to the challenges of the crisis. Given that remote working has become the norm for most, keeping the workplace digitally connected is vital for sustaining productivity and helping organisations minimise the impact of the pandemic.

Delivering a culture of creativity and openness

A strong culture is the lifeblood of an organisation and underpins everything it stands for. Where and how employees work has changed dramatically overnight, but that does not mean businesses should forget about what makes them different from their competitors.

Values act like a north star that keeps everyone going in the same direction. It’s essential to reinforce these to all team members through regular virtual town halls and meetings so that they are front of mind. This will ensure customers get the same service they did before the pandemic. Businesses that continue to deliver excellent support despite all the challenges they have faced will further strengthen their relationships with customers. And this has the added benefit of helping growth in the long-term, leading to more customer retention and making them appeal to potential new customers.

Getting new hires up to speed with company values from the beginning is also essential. Technology can play a role here. Companies like ServiceNow have created mobile apps to help leaders virtually onboard new hires and engage with them before they start so that they are ready to work and understand what is expected of them. This ongoing engagement is also important as it can help new hires settle in, reassuring those that may be anxious about starting a new job during a crisis.

The right culture will give employees a creative, open platform and will encourage innovation and experimentation. It will create a safe workplace environment to allow leaders at every level the chance to make bold decisions without the fear of making mistakes. This has always been important for businesses but has become even more essential during the pandemic.

Time to prioritise physical and mental health

With the world we know changing so dramatically and there being so much negativity every time we look at the news, it’s more important than ever to promote a healthy body and mindset. Leaders have a vital role to play here. They need to be role models, understand their team’s home setup and encourage them to switch off at times, take breaks and be flexible in the way they work. Businesses should focus on outcomes and not on activity; performance and not the number of hours sitting in front of a laptop screen.

Research from the Trade Union Congress found that the average Brit spent 219 hours commuting last year. This shouldn’t now be seen as extra time for work. It should be focused on managing wellbeing and mental health: more time to read, train for a 10k race or walk around the local park. This will help people clear their minds, step away from their laptops and increase focus when they are working.

Digitise the workplace to stay connected

Organisations always prepare for crises. Time is spent investing in drills around data centres and cyber breaches. But less time is spent testing the workforce and workplace for remote working at the scale we’re currently seeing.

Before this pandemic, many organisations did not have working from home policies and had to put these together quickly. Some invested in the right tools, training and policies during ‘business as usual times and tested these as part of business continuity plans. This gave them confidence that they could operate when people needed to work remotely, and also helped build working from home into their culture. It had the added benefit of highlighting what gaps needed to be fixed and optimised.

Now that this way of working has been forced on so many businesses, communication about what is working and what is not, is key. Leaders need to constantly communicate with employees and workers need to make sure they are speaking to each other. Creating a unified, consumer-style employee service experience across all departments will make this so much easier for workers.

People may no longer be in the physical office but with collaboration tools, virtual meeting rooms and virtual coffee breaks, employees can create a digital version of it. Workers should be encouraged to set and communicate expectations around their working day and when they will be available.

Creating a digital twin for a workplace will ease a lot of the issues that can be caused by not being in an office. If colleagues are used to seeing each other in real life, encourage the use of technology to maintain that same level communication. If workshops need to be run, video conferencing tools should be used. When there is a need to collaborate, virtual whiteboards, mind mapping tools and visual task boards can help. If customer briefings or events need to be delivered, then encourage interaction through the use of polls, voting and Q&A sessions.

Those companies that had previously embraced cloud-based tools have found the pivot to remote working a lot more straightforward. Cloud has proved its value during this crisis and the digital native companies have barely been disrupted. For businesses that are implanting these tools for the first time now, getting employees trained up so that they can use them to be productive and collaborate with colleagues in the right way, is critical.

This global pandemic has also demonstrated to businesses that they need to focus on continuity planning. There will be new challenges that arise when some employees go back to the office while others work from home. Now is the time to start planning for this to maintain a company’s values as well as employee productivity.

About the author

Nerys MutlowNerys Mutlow works in the Chief Innovation Office at ServiceNow and covers the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions. She has a breadth of technical, business and leadership experience gained over a 20 year+ career with variety of companies including Xerox, Thales and Fujitsu. She has held senior EMEA business, consulting and technical roles and is consistently recognised for her technical aptitude, business understanding and focus on driving value and innovation for her customers. Nerys also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems Management. She is a recognised thought leader and has published and contributed to a number of digital publications and blogs. Supporting women into technology is particularly important to Nerys and she actively supports many STEM initiatives.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.

employee engagement, happy office

Four ways tech firms can keep employee engagement high when they work remotely

employee engagement, happy officeKirsty Carter, chief of staff for cloud and technology services and solutions provider, Solutionize Global.

With the Coronavirus global pandemic affecting every aspect of normal life, organisations are having to shift quickly to working remotely and for employees to have greater autonomy, with no real idea of how long it will last.

The key challenges for many tech businesses are around retaining engagement, motivation, productivity and minimising panic across a team demographic encompassing different experiences and skillsets.

It’s been well-documented that firms with an engaged team are said to achieve 21% higher profitability according to Gallup. And, furthermore, a huge 85% of organisations are failing to motivate their staff globally – so the importance on getting remote working right shouldn’t be underestimated.

Shifting the workforce to a completely online model can help to safeguard them during challenging trading times, whilst ensuring the enterprise’s bottom line is not impacted too harshly. Business as usual for all stakeholders is crucial right now.

Without a physical office presence there is the potential for the quality of working life and team relationships to falter, alongside strained mental health and wellbeing issues as uncertainty takes its toll.

Additionally, there is a renewed need to ensure that if employees do contract COVID-19 that they follow government guidelines on welfare and isolation, and don’t have worries around sick leave and time-off that might affect their decision making.

Here are some key ways in which employers can encourage – and nurture – employee engagement when remote working.

  1. Starting the day right

A good tip is to begin with a team call – preferably using a video platform – and kick-off the agenda asking employees how they’re doing. During the current climate too, it’s worth asking about their family members as there might be concerns that are impacting colleagues on a physical and mental level. Expectations and deliverables for the day can also be achieved in these calls.

It’s important for tech leaders to understand how successful remote working can be – and how it’s often enhanced with a strong routine and structure, alongside the right support and environment.

Having faith in staff to be autonomous is imperative too – but don’t underestimate the appreciate for regular contact.

  1. Setting up for success

Working from home doesn’t just require routine and discipline, it must also have a workspace that suits employees’ needs.

There may be a request for additional equipment – such as laptops, a second screen, power adaptors, and even chairs and whiteboards! Keeping an inventory of what has been signed-out where – and with who – helps to understand what extra support can be provided. Connectivity needs must also be met, and any additional costs they may incur should be organised to be paid.

And as well as making sure everyone is trained in how to utilise their equipment, it’s important to partner teams up where necessary – to avoid someone feeling alone – and remain in contact with employees throughout. Asking if they’re comfortable in their surroundings can be a major morale boost.

  1. Upskilling and investment

If a tech business is working towards an accreditation or website update, launching a new platform, preparing internal training courses, updating policies and procedures, when working remotely it’s a great time to focus on these projects so that organisations can come out the other side polished, and ready to return to normality.

If the usual roles and responsibilities have been reduced due to market conditions, share links to online training courses and sign teams up for online learning too. Amongst the uncertainty and worry, this could prove to be an ideal time to re-focus the mind and upskill whilst at home.

Providing a platform for development can help organisations reap a wealth of benefits from their employees – something which has never been more pertinent than in a modern-day tech team that’s constantly tasked with staying ahead of the curve, and challenged to survive in turbulent times.

As well as promoting motivation and engagement, this can also underline how leaders want to invest in staff – and their skills – which is especially pertinent during a challenging climate when commitment and loyalty are vital in helping businesses to come out the other side.

  1. Comms, comms and more comms!

Some of the team may never have worked remotely before so it will be a big change for them. Asking senior members of staff – who don’t have reporting lines – to ‘buddy up’ can help motivate and ensure productivity remains at a premium. If, for example, there are 30 reporting lines, it’s a lot for tech leaders to expect staff to remote manage them on their own.

In addition, sending out practical tips on topics such as ‘how to work effectively from home’ and best practice guidelines will help to settle employees who might be new when it comes to operating remotely.

Another good tip for tech firms is to organise ‘virtual socials’ – these can be a mixture of business and team-building. Organisers are advised to change the time of day each time and mix up the invites list so that it keeps things fresh. Ideas for this could include a virtual ‘bring your dog to work’ tea break for 20 minutes or a Friday ‘live at five’ – with a tipple of choice to start the weekend!

By adding in an agenda to these sociable moments – to maximise the outcomes of each catch-up – these can provide fantastic moments for the tech firm to celebrate successes, talk about what’s been difficult, share any new knowledge learnt during upskilling, and deliver business news updates.

This type of regular contact should go a long way towards encouraging a collaborative environment – and keep a team as closely together as though they were all working in one space.

Working remotely requires a little more effort and commitment for many but, in a technology-filled world, there are really no excuses not to be creative and make it work for most organisations.

Kirsty CarterAbout the author

As chief of staff at cloud and technology professional and managed service provider, Solutionize Global, Kirsty’s role focuses on company culture, employee engagement and organisational growth. As well as leading on evolving the team’s in-house training, hiring, professional development and performance management structures, Kirsty acts as an advisor to Solutionize Global’s CEO, David Bentley. First joining the forward-thinking firm in 2019, Kirsty has enjoyed a 12-year, people-focused career and is passionate about investing in people, future-proofing learning and development and creating an efficient HR function to help scale the business.

woman working from home in bed, IT professional

IT professionals are scared of making mistakes, (still) uncomfortable with seeing themselves on Zoom and hate making calls

woman working from home in bed, IT professional

A study has found that 31 per cent of IT and information research professionals are working in fear, scared of making a mistake at work. 

The nationwide poll, commissioned by Feel Good Contacts revealed some of the many concerns faced by people working in this industry.

The study of 2,000 UK workers, conducted by OnePoll, highlighted issues related to communications. Despite almost six months of Zoom meetings, a quarter of IT and information research employees are still uncomfortable with being on a video call, seeing and hearing themselves on screen and being in a virtual room full of people staring at their face. A total of 23 per cent don’t want to talk on the phone and would rather send an email.

In a climate of uncertainty, where IT and information research professionals are feeling on edge as we enter a second lockdown, 20 per cent are anxious about working with difficult colleagues. But it’s not just internal relations that are a concern, 19 per cent are nervous about dealing with antagonistic client and customers.

Not surprisingly, 30 per cent of respondents are scared about losing their job as the UK plunges into economic recession for the first time in 11 years. With such worries, it’s understandable that just under one sixth of respondents are too nervous to ask for extra support with a heavy workload and 18 per cent are anxious about seeking help with a difficult task. One fifth said that in the current climate, they would dread facing their boss in a performance review and a further fifth said that they would be too nervous to ask for a pay rise. Finally, 21 per cent are worried about being expected to work out of hours.

Speaking about the study, Acacia Johnson, Human Resources Advisor at Feel Good Contacts said, “With job losses on the increase, even the most productive workers do not feel immune.”

“Understandably, feelings of self-doubt plague employees.”

“‘I’m going to fail. I can’t work this out. I’m not up to the job. Everyone’s going to see me screw up. It’s only a matter of time before…..’ are just some of the thoughts going through the minds of anxious staff.”

“With this attitude, some people are working extra hard to deliver over and above what is expected of them to keep their job safe.”

“Others are keeping their heads under the parapet; they don’t want to be noticed, voice their opinions and get the blame if anything goes wrong.”

Business psychologist Jan P. de Jonge explains, “Neither approach is ideal.”

“By playing it safe, you are stifling creativity and innovation and not producing your best work.”

“You’re more likely to fail by resisting than engaging.”

“Instead try to adopt a growth mindset and see challenges as a way to develop, rather than as a threat.”

“Modern day culture promotes wellbeing.”

“So we really need to focus on what that wellbeing means, which is being accepting of imperfection.”

“If things go wrong, use it to create opportunities to learn and develop.”

“This may be a little bit counterintuitive, especially when we live in society that always tells us to do well.”

Jan added, “Decades ago, people all had to gradually get used to the phone, being available, accessible from afar and at the turn of a few buttons.”

“Now it feels like the working population – and others besides – are suddenly compelled to be visible online, representable, on-cue and on-message.”

“But an ‘always on’ approach won’t help you to perform any better in your job in the long run.”

“If you’re checking your emails 24/7 to stay ahead of the game, you won’t be coming to work feeling fresh and raring to start the day, plus you will always be distracted.”

Jan concluded, “It’s worth remembering that if you always reply to emails immediately, the sender will think you have nothing better to do.”

“So, ask yourself: will anyone care or even notice if you take some time to respond?”

“This approach is better for your health.”

“In fact, studies have found that people who were allowed to check their Inbox only three times a day had lower levels of stress compared to those who were allowed unlimited access to email.”

With these concerns in mind, Feel Good Contacts and business psychologist Jan P. De Jonge at People Business Psychology Ltd. have produced a Work Worries Toolkit to help you to tackle some of the issues you face at work.

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Kickstart your career in tech from the comfort of your own home

Article by Shan Beerstecher, Club Executive at AND Digital

We’ve all seen the stats. Despite a decade-long push to try and encourage women into tech roles, females still only represent around 19% of the digital workforce. It’s time to make a change. 

As the events of Covid-19 encourage us to chase new talents and pick up new skills, we now have a unique opportunity to kickstart a career in tech. And thanks to the shift to digital, this can all be done from the comfort of our own home. Here are a few of my tips.

Expand your network

It really is true that empowered women, empower women. Joining online forums and attending virtual meetups is a great way to meet people with a mutual interest in learning about tech, to trade tips and boost confidence in those early stages. This is also a great way to build your network within the industry. You don’t know which new connection might be working in the company of your dreams, have the intel on the next big hiring spree or be able to guide you into your ideal role.

It’s also very important to remain inspired while pursuing your new career in tech. Find motivating female role models on LinkedIn or listen to their Ted Talks. If you come across someone that really strikes a chord with you; follow them, listen to them, and if you can, connect with them.

Sign up for online courses

The most obvious way to test the water of your tech career – just give it a try. There are a lot of great online courses out there, many of which are free to encourage interest in the sector. When you can give coding a go without parting with your pennies (or leaving your sofa), there really is nothing to lose.

For example, Code First Girls (CFG), an online community dedicated to empowering women in tech, has created a range of great free courses to develop your skills in the programming world. Its eight-week Coding Kickstarter course will launch on September 7th, offering an introduction to frontend development, JavaScript, and equipping you with all of the skills you need to try building your own website from scratch. The fantastic team at CFG have worked hard to create courses that cater to different interests in tech, so if Coding Kickstarter isn’t quite what you are looking for, you can browse the rest of their sessions here.

Focus on your soft skills

One of the biggest myths I encounter in the industry is that you need a tech degree to work in tech. It just isn’t the case. I’m not technical and my tech career has spanned nine years. On top of there being an abundance of non-technical roles within the digital industry, from owning and understanding products, to driving delivery, designing, and leading teams; soft skills can be a lot more important than what you have written down on paper. What you need is a passion for what technology can give you, your community, our society and a willingness to learn.

Can you collaborate effectively within a team? Are you a great listener? If you can showcase soft skills such as empathy, respect and creativity, you’re already halfway there in securing your new tech role. Remember, technical skills can always be learnt.

A great way to showcase soft skills is through your own pet projects – side hustles if you will. Taking time out of your personal schedule to pursue a new hobby shows genuine interest in the topic, an ability to prioritise your time, and most importantly, spotlights your personality. Another popular myth to bust is that we are not all robots working in tech. We all have interests outside of work, and this is the side of you your new employer wants to see.

This is something we are big on at AND Digital. Even our job descriptions are double-barrelled. For instance, while my official role is Club Executive AND Proudly South African – a testament to my home country and obsession with Nelson Mandela leadership styles - my team consists of fitness fanatics, amateur bakers and body poppers, to name just a few! It adds a personal touch to our email signatures but also makes for a great conversation starter - who really enjoys small talk anyway?

Have confidence

Pursuing a career in tech is not as daunting as it may seem. I’ve actually found it to be one of the most inclusive and supportive fields I have had the pleasure of working in. Digital is virtually limitless, attracts some of the best minds of our generation and is guaranteed to continue going from strength to strength in coming years. Tech is booming across the world, but there will always be the need for a strong digital workforce to drive it forward. Why shouldn’t you be one of them?

If we continue taking steps to support each other, make use of online resources and accentuate the brilliant qualities of our ‘non-work’ selves, I’m confident we can overcome gender misrepresentation in digital and encourage many more women into tech.

Shan BeerstecherAbout the author

Shan is an innovative and collaborative digital leader with experience across diverse industries and geographies. Bringing a balance of business, people/culture, digital and agile delivery into all of her work, Shan has led digital transformation projects for a number of large financial services organisations and created value for global brands such as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here

Lockdown & the Future of Remote Working | Adventures of a Unicorn

Wild Code School_remote learning, woman learning to codeUnderstandably, we are all getting a bit neurotic about what the “new normal” will look like post Covid.

We’re all running out of ways to use the word “unprecedented”! Second only to the guesstimates on just how cataclysmic our economic forecast looks, is what Corona-virus has done to our hither to held as irreversible societal and working norms.

As someone that started a new role as Corona-virus hit the UK, I feel well placed to comment on how overnight compulsory homeworking has affected a scaling tech business.

It is probably the stuff of a particularly detailed anxiety nightmare to take on a senior role, spend 10 days with the founder for onboarding, to then be stranded eleven thousand miles and an 11-hour time difference apart. In March this year, this was exactly my personal challenge. Over the past few months, I have come to appreciate the many genuine advantages of a remote team based from home, that I intend to make permanent in my territory.

Despite much anguish and hand wringing when lock down was first announced, I reflected that plenty of businesses have successful teams that do not work in the same four walls. Whilst we have a relatively modest global head count of 20, split across 6 offices in 6 times zones, there are plenty of much larger organisations who are, to say the least, disparate.

Walmart, which has one of the largest headcounts in the world, employs 2.2 million people in 27 countries, which doesn’t seem to have done last year’s $3.8bn of profit any harm. I know many of the investment banks, who are not constrained by budget, have senior leaders that hot desk permanently. More recently, in response to Covid, tech stalwarts Google and Facebook have announced they expect their teams to work remotely for the rest of the year. As I wrote in an article for Fintech alliance, in Spring this year, frankly tech businesses should be a masterclass in managing relationships remotely.

Lockdown has been over-whelming positive from a commercial perspective. Whilst I am sensitive to the devastation that Covid has reeked for businesses and individuals worldwide, we are in the truly privileged position that Coronavirus has positively impacted our turnover. As a digital offering, the majority of the UK population being stuck at home was very helpful, as was a broad distrust of traditional financial infrastructure positively impacting the crypto markets. It has been somewhat surreal that our busiest ever months have been over the lockdown period.

Whilst at time it felt like the four horsemen of the apocalypse were enthusiastically saddling up, personally there is much about full time home working that I will seek to preserve.

Like many people, my schedule gained a whole day a week from not having to commute. Thus, I was able to fill my diary with high quality opportunities to trouble shoot small issues and think deeply about broader strategies issues — hugely useful, of course, when the world is in meltdown and constantly changing.

I will miss encountering a problem, to spend a few minutes walking around the garden with a cup of tea until the solution presents itself. A walk to a grotty third-floor bathroom just won’t achieve the same! I would suspect moving forwards, we will all be picky with our time, and only meet someone physically, if we can justify the travel time, be they 10 minutes or 10 hours away, when a zoom call will do.

In terms of corporate culture, it is now broadly accepted you can efficiently run a geographically disparate headcount. I’ve loved some of the igneous methods that have emerged for keeping morale up, including zoom-hosted team quizzes, “dress up Friday”, and internet broadcast HIIT classes. Frankly, I feel much closer to team members in different continents, now I am acquainted with their living rooms, spouses, kids, cats and lounge wear.

Moreover, it should be a time to shine as people managers, and competent management during the bad times binds people in a way that doesn’t happen when the going is good. I hope, too, that the tech obsession with London wanes — sky high rents, and zero work/life balance in offices long overdue a refurb but considered trendy, is long overdue a reconsideration in my opinion. It is not true that only London based businesses succeed, as the growth of tech hubs in Manchester and Birmingham will attest.

I have a hunch that the business environment will be friendlier and more inclusive. Pre-Covid you would be mortified to have your child or DHL delivery interrupt an important online meeting — now it seems par for the course. We are all entitled to hobbies, relationships and to live in a property/area that we like, and more flexibility in the work environment would go a long way. In my opinion, tech businesses should be trail blazing in this respect!

Adventures of a Unicorn is a business blog written by Katharine Wooller, Managing Director, UK & Eire, It documents the daily life of tech start-up in hypergrowth.

Katharine WoollerAbout the author

Katharine Wooller is managing director, UK and Eire, Dacxi – a digital crypto fintech platform specialising in bringing cryptocurrency to the ‘crowd’.

Katharine Wooller has had a long UK fintech career, as Investment Director at industry leading peer-to-peer lender, and in senior roles at a specialist investment banking SAAS supporting tier one banks, asset managers and hedge funds.  More recently she has held advisory roles for blockchain businesses and is currently MD for a retail crypto exchange. She leads the Women Who Crypto initiative.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here

stylish woman working from home, style tips, flexible working

51% of tech employees say working from home has improved their work-life balance

stylish woman working from home, style tips, flexible working

51 per cent of tech employees say working from home has improved their work-life balance, according to a new report from UK-based tech-for-good developer, Culture Shift.

The report found that the events of recent months have positively impacted the culture of Britain’s technology industry, with 39 per cent saying it has actively improved since they transitioned to working from home.

As half of the UK’s workforce transitioned to remote working earlier this year, organisations were thrust into the spotlight with many standing by to see if they were able to make the transition seamlessly without detrimental impact on their culture. The same report also uncovered that 34 per cent of employees in tech said working from home has had a positive effect on their mental health, while 30 per cent said sentiment towards their job has been positively impacted and 33 per cent confirmed their relationship with their boss/employer has improved since they started working from home.

However, while many have welcomed the remote setup, 50 per cent of employees in tech said they have been feeling isolated while working from home.

The report also found that Imposter syndrome and self-doubt are rife, with 26 per cent of employees in tech feeling these more so working from home than they did previously

Progression has been impacted for the worse, with 31 per cent of tech employees saying they’ve been negatively affected when it comes to promotion opportunities. 24 per cent of employees in tech also said working from home has negatively affected their training and development.

Gemma McCall, CEO and co-founder of Culture Shift, said, "With many organisations across the country now thinking about how they can bring employees back to the office safely, we wanted to hone in on the general consensus on remote working these past few months."

"While there have been some minor issues, it’s generally been quite successful."

“Remote working has positively impacted employees’ wellbeing and is something employers should absolutely be considering as they plan for the future – especially now the success of this approach has been clearly proven."

“While there are of course some key factors organisations need to work on, like continued commitment to training and development, as well as progression, employers should be ensuring they have systems and tools in place to empower their teams to remain productive, creative and supported, even while they’re working from home.”

Speaking about the report, Olive Strachan MBE, founder of Olive Strachan Resources Ltd, global business woman and diversity and inclusion specialist adds, “There’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in challenging times for businesses."

"With many teams working remotely, organisations have had to improve their communication, keeping employees informed of developments, while demonstrating empathy, and providing coaching plus support for their mental health and general wellbeing.”

“The research found that most employees have credited their organisations with having a positive culture in the current climate, with many benefitting from improvements to their productivity, overall wellbeing, creativity, work-life balance and relationships with key stakeholders, such as their employer.”

To see more insights uncovered by the research or to download the full ‘Maintaining workplace culture in a rapidly changing environment’ report, visit

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