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"It's knowing you can be there for your kids": Brian Hills

Brian Hills is Head of Data at The Data Lab, leading the technical side of the organisation as well as their skills & education portfolio. It’s a job that requires time and responsibility, yet Brian works compressed hours: he’s out by lunch time on Fridays, and utilises the flexible working options offered to all staff including working from home and adaptable start and finish times.

It wasn’t always like this; but after having his first child five years ago, he realized there was no other way.

“I definitely learned that parenthood is constantly presenting you with life changes and challenges. Constantly starting early and working late was no longer an option! A number of my colleagues have young families and this, combined with the flexibility offered by my employer, definitely helps in support and understanding of being a working parent. I value knowing that I can be there for my children when I need to be and share parenting with my wife.”

Brian’s family extended again a little while back, and he now has an 14 month old son. However, he says he feels more productive: “At the end of 2017 I wrote down everything I had been working on and achieved that year. I couldn’t believe it! I now realize that what’s important is that the work is done and I’m accountable to my organisation, not where it’s done. That requires focus – its easy to fill a day with ‘stuff’”.

In previous roles, Brian felt employer culture and policy wasn’t fully supportive in this area. “There was very little work life balance. Trying to be a supportive parent was a struggle. In this role there is support, flexibility and trust and those are benefits I really value from my employer”.

This feeling extends to Brian’s team. There are several other parents with young families; “but we make sure we respect everyone for their needs and their priorities. Flexible working shouldn’t be only for parents”.

For him, flexible working is more than a policy, but rather an attitude. “We have a culture of trust and accountability. When there’s a problem, we talk about it and we share it openly. The important thing is being able to have a conversation, and respecting everyone”.

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