Rebecca Newenham explains how choosing to run a franchise can deliver flexible working options and a better work-life balance.
Being able to work on your terms; when, where and how you want. It might sound like a pipedream, and it certainly was a few decades ago when the 9-5 dominated work. Thankfully things have changed, and more flexible work solutions are available.
COVID disrupted working practices, and people are re-evaluating what they want from work.
Work started to become more flexible before the pandemic. In 2014, the Flexible Working Regulations became Law and companies had to consider flexible working applications. But the pandemic certainly accelerated progress. Suddenly people had to work from home and work more flexibly, whether they wanted to or not. In fact, they counted themselves some of the lucky ones to be able to be working at all. Companies scrambled to embrace home and remote working and support employees where they could. Everyone reacted differently. Some were grateful they finally got to work from home as they had always wanted. Others discovered they missed the office buzz or were drowning so much in homeschooling that they didn’t even get a chance to think about it.
Companies are reconsidering how and where they employ staff.
Some have asked (or demanded) employees to return to work – to working practices similar to pre-covid. Others have embraced flexible working and ditched the office for good. But it’s not just about companies and how they try and adjust to hybrid cultures. Many employees have taken this time to think about what they want from work and life. Whether you call it the ‘Great Resignation’ or the ‘Great Reflection’, there has undoubtedly been a marked change in how people think about work. I saw that myself, as we welcomed a record number of new franchisees during 2020/2021, as individuals took the opportunity to put their future in their own hands and run their own Get Ahead franchising business. As many of them said, starting a new business during an unprecedented global pandemic might seem like a strange choice. But for them, it was a perfectly logical choice. They were taking the opportunity to realise their dreams of running their own business. To be in more control of their own destiny and to work flexibly around their families.
Buying a franchise is a great flexible working solution.
Of course, every franchise is different, so you must do your research first. But in general, buying a franchise means running your own business. It puts you in charge of when you work, where you work, how much you earn, how much you do yourself and what you outsource or delegate to others. That control gives you those choices to make decisions for yourself, not tied to an employment contract.
Franchising has historically been popular with mothers of young children, as it can be done part-time and during nursery, preschool, or school hours. Think Puddle Ducks, Monkey Music, Little Kickers, Creation Station. Some of my franchisees decided to buy a franchise to work flexibly around their young children. Fiona, who runs Get Ahead Leeds, York and Harrogate, says, “The flexibility of running my own franchise means that I now take my children to school every morning and pick them up, something I was never able to do before. I get to attend parent workshops without having to send grandparents in my place. In the holidays when I get to spend much more time with them. I get up in the mornings and do some work before taking my son and his friend out for the day. Even if it’s being a simple taxi service for my teenage daughter, I am still part of their lives in a way that I never was before. I have also seen a real improvement in my son’s behaviour because he’s got that consistent messaging about what’s acceptable.”
But mums of young children are not the only ones embracing the flexible working benefits of franchising. Others have chosen franchising to enable them to work around caring for older parents, like Jo McGowan in Surrey, who comments, “The other week I went to the theatre with my mum in the afternoon. I don’t have to be at the desk 9 – 5. I can spend time with both my older parents and teenage son and be there for all of them.”
Some people have chosen to work flexibly simply because they want to and because they see it as the logical choice in today’s world, like Sarah in Essex. “Since moving into franchising, I have worked really hard to make sure I make time for life as well as work. This week is a good example. I am spending 3 hours at the hairdressers, and I am taking my daughter out for lunch for her birthday (as well as the usual ferrying her around to friends’ houses!). Being able to simply start work earlier and not have to stress about doing these things is great.”
If you are struggling with the 9-5, feel you’re being forced to adopt working practices that simply don’t work for you anymore, or if you just want to do something different, I’d urge you consider franchising. Buying a franchise could enable you to work flexibly and in a way that suits you. Look out for franchises that have won awards for ‘Franchise Balance’ or titles like ‘Flexible Business of the Year’. These demonstrate the franchisor’s commitment to flexible working, empowering you to put flexible work at the heart of your franchise business, just like they do.