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Choosing the right company when returning to work

 December 07, 2016

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The conversation about women returning to work has certainly been gaining momentum.

Many women choose to take a break from their career for maternity or family reasons, but this temporary hiatus from work can make it difficult to re-enter the workforce. Some women find the challenge returning to work overwhelming, especially when many companies do not necessarily offer flexible work options. Also the cost of childcare can be high.

And for those who do return, some women may feel their contribution under-valued due to the reduced hours they're able to commit. And quite frankly in some less progressive companies, working mothers aren't always considered a long-term asset to the company.

Recognising your value in the workplace

Luckily, the more progressive companies are understanding that women drive significant value - part-time or not.  Avanade CEO Adam Warby told GeekWire it's "inexcusable that, generally in work situations, and particularly in the IT sector, women are often under-represented and regarded as less capable than men in terms of technical understanding and management ability. Women add incalculable value to all human endeavour, and to limit or exclude their representation is irrational and demeaning”.

Work-life balance is important to many returners and so flexible working arrangements are sought like part-time working, term-time working and informal home working which is becoming far more viable due to significant advances in technology.

Get back the "working" you

But once you've found your way back into the workforce, how do you re-adjust back into the daily routine, the team environment and facing the challenges you experience through your role?

To begin, re-connect with the "working" you and the people who value what you do in the workplace. Your skills and experience are viable and you'll find that you're still absolutely the competent career woman you were when you left for a world of baby bouncers and mashed banana.

Next, acknowledge that your multi-tasking skills have developed in a way you perhaps hadn't imagined. Looking after the children develops your time management and negotiation skills more than you potentially realize, so use this experience and let it help you in your new environment.

Lastly, be happy with the working hours that you can commit to and make sure the flexibility you desire works both ways. And if you're even prepared to give something more back to your employer when you can, the flexible working shouldn't be seen as a barrier.

And remember, flexible working can mean anything from compressed hours, working freelance, working from home and  job shares.

Once you work out what's right for you, and what's right for your employer, there's no reason why returning to work should be anything more than a stroll in the park (with or without buggy)!

So see what roles you like via Where Women Work and ask the recruiter about flexibility. Or research some of the best companies on Where Women Work to see examples of how their women are enjoying flexible working arrangements.

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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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