The Top Employer Awards 2013 are just around the corner and so Mandy Garner the Web Editor of Working Mums and organiser of the Top Employer Awards got in touch to remind us of one of last year’s fantastic winners.
When she had her son who has Down’s Syndrome and autism, Catherine Breakwell thought she would never be able to work again. The one to one demands of caring for her son, plus her two daughters, made her previous job as a customer services manager seem impossible. She took six years out to care for her children and took on a part-time administrative job at a charity.
But thanks to the ultra flexible work pattern at Cool2Care, a company which employs 45 staff who organise care for parents of disabled children, she has not only found a job she enjoys and which uses her skills, but has been able to rise up the career ranks from family liaison officer to regional head for the South West and Midlands.
Cool2Care are a virtual business with all their staff working remotely. This virtual structure has meant they have been able to grow fast and spread their reach across the country because they do not have to invest in office infrastructure.
It has also meant a highly motivated workforce, most of whom have personal or family experience of looking after a person with disability.
It has meant they can be dynamic and creative. For instance, when a member of the training team announced that her family were moving to the US and she would need to leave Cool2Care, the organisation saw an opportunity to maximise its flexible working model. The model meant there was no need for the staff member to be in the UK. The trainer stayed on and now organises and handles all the questions from evening webinar training sessions from the US.
This means that the UK based members of the training team get their evenings back whilst the US member of staff is making the most of the difference in time zones to work in the morning US time.
It was a solution that worked for everyone and shows the creativity and adaptability of the company’s business model.
That dynamism and adaptability to change earned them Workingmums.co.uk’s Top Employer Award for a medium-sized business. The Awards cover eight different categories, from innovation in flexible working, talent attraction, family support and best for dads to career progression, the Workingmums Champion and two awards for different sized SMEs.
It can often be assumed that flexible working is harder for such businesses which lack the large numbers and resources of bigger organisations.
In fact, smaller businesses are among the most innovative in flexible working. From micro businesses who employ highly experienced staff on part-time hours who can grow with the organisation to bigger organisations like Cool2Care, SMEs are benefiting from the adaptability that flexible working gives them, with technology being the great enabler.
For Catherine and for Cool2Care the benefits are clear. She says:
“The Cool2Care flexible working ethos has been absolutely brilliant for me. It has enabled me to get back into the working world again, but has also meant that I am still able to look after my son when he is home for school holidays. His disabilities and challenging behaviour prevent him from being able to access mainstream holiday clubs so having the opportunity to be at home with him has been a godsend.”
*To enter this year’s Workingmums.co.uk Top Employer Awards, go to http://www.workingmums.co.uk/topemployerawards/ The nomination process is simple and it is free to enter. The closing date for entries is 12 July.