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After having my daughter last year, I knew I wanted to return to my role as Store Manager, but I wanted to keep the balance with being a Mum. I was due to return to work when my daughter was 8 months old and I was worried about coming back full time. I knew colleagues in other parts of the business were able to return part-time and I had friends outside of Co-op who went back to work part-time after having children, so I wondered whether this would be something I could do. When I thought about it, I felt I could still fulfil my role as Store Manager but only work 4 days, although I had never heard of anyone doing this before in my role.
Arranging flexible working
A couple of months prior to my return I arranged a meeting with my Area Manager to discuss coming back and I brought up my idea of only coming back four days a week, I had no idea how it would be received but I really felt like I could make it work. Luckily my Area Manager, and later the Regional and HR Managers, were really supportive. They agreed that, although it hadn’t been done before, we could try it.
Once it had been agreed, coming back to work felt a little less daunting. Although I was still apprehensive, as I’m sure everyone is after being away from the business for eight months, I felt a lot happier knowing I had an extra day a week that I could spend with my daughter and an extra day I wouldn’t need to arrange childcare.
Coming back to work
If I’m honest, coming back to work was really tough initially. However, since settling back in I feel I have managed to strike a good balance between being a Store Manager and being a Mum. I am still able to achieve what I need to as a store manager, just over four days rather than five.
My Area Manager, Dave Kay said ‘the store has maintained its high standards and continues to grow, I don’t even notice Laura isn’t in for 3 days a week’
Having a great team has been really important and I have made sure that communication is strong between the whole management team so we all know what is going on at any time. Over the summer my store has gone from strength to strength with sales hitting record numbers on a regular basis.
“I feel that working four days really enables me to focus on my job probably more than I would have if I’d returned full time.”
There are times that it has been hard, but I’ve been lucky to have the support of my Area Manager and I really believe it has been the best decision, not just for me personally, but also for my store.
Did you know Aspire now have a parent and carer’s support network called PACT, keep an eye out for events and ways to get involved.