Taskforce launched to examine flexible working in the voluntary sector

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the charity leaders body Acevo have launched a new taskforce to examine flexible working in the voluntary sector.

The new body, which is being supported by the executive search firm Starfish Search, will examine some of the barriers and stigma about flexible working as well as sharing examples of good practice across the sector.

The organisations said that after a rise in home working because of the coronavirus pandemic, 90 per cent of charity professionals told a recent survey that they wanted flexible working to continue in the long-term.

The survey found that 43 per cent of respondents said they would never apply for a job that was entirely office-based.

But the study also showed that almost three-quarters of respondents said they worked longer hours at home and the boundaries between home and work were a challenge.

The new working group, which will be chaired by Becky Hewitt, former chief executive of the disfigurement charity Changing Faces, is looking for up to 10 people from the voluntary sector with a range of views and experiences to take part.

Working group members will be asked to perform tasks including scoping the issues, opportunities and challenges to flexible working, identify key resources to share, support the development of a short report and be public ambassadors to share its findings.

They will be asked to take part in three meetings in September and October with the final report due out by the end of the year.

Anyone interested in applying to take part in the group should contact joanna.gray@ncvo.org.uk. Applications will close on 10 September.

Hewitt, who has today written a blog for Third Sector on the issue of flexible working, said: “When I first started thinking about becoming a CEO, my single biggest anxiety was that conversation about flexible working.

“While I did work a four-day week, I heard from so many in the sector who were concerned about balancing work with their role as parents, as carers, or with supporting their own physical or mental health.

“At a time when we need a diverse pool of exceptional, motivated, passionate leaders more than ever, we urgently need to change our attitude to flexible working.”

Sarah Vibert, interim chief executive of the NCVO, said she was aware from personal experience how important flexibility at work can be.

“We are now at a key moment when many NCVO members are telling us they want to make permanent changes to working arrangements,” she said.

“I hope the work of this new group will encourage organisations to engage staff openly in conversations around formalising flexible working and how we can move beyond well-intended policies to make it work in practice.”

Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: “As boundaries between the office and the home, and personal and professional are increasingly more blurred, and civil society urgently needs to be more inclusive, now is the time for sector leaders to start positive conversations and better understand what flexible working really means, what tools we need to implement it, and how to best support our colleagues.”

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