Marketing Manager Arline Okin talks about her role as part of a job share.
Workingmums.co.uk was set up in 2006 by Gillian Nissim to act as a bridge between professionals looking for flexible new jobs and employers looking to attract an experienced, talented pool of candidates. Since then it has grown to be the number one jobs and community site for professional working mothers. It has over 320,000 registered users and works with thousands of employers. It also now offers advice, support and inspiration to those looking to set up their own businesses and franchises. Workingmums.co.uk is a fully flexible employer. It operates as a virtual business so everyone in it works remotely and with various degrees of other flexibility. We wanted to give you an inside view of how it works and who the people are behind the website. This week we have Marketing Manager Arline Okin.
What do you do at Workingmums?
I work as part of a job share as Marketing Manager at Workingmums.co.uk. My key responsibility is communicating with employers, sending them best practice material on flexible working and letting them know about the quality of our candidates and our service. I do lots of other things marketing related, contras, advertising, events (awards) and much more.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Lots of things are good about my job. Firstly, I love working for a company that I am passionate about. I found myself looking for a part-time job and came across Workingmums.co.uk and it was like a lifeline, honest. I had years of experience and qualifications, but found it really difficult to find something in marketing that was part time. They had some jobs on the site and I felt there was hope. I like working for a company that provides something really valuable: employment. I work with some brilliant, talented and lovely people (that has to earn me some drinks at the next Christmas party, surely) – including my job share colleague Annika. I love working as part of a job share as two people with varying skills and experience can really offer a lot to a position. Annika loves doing stats and I love the creative side (only joking Annika!! – I say this to my other colleagues so they go to Annika for stats-related queries).
My job is varied and, of course, being flexible takes the stress out of everything. It’s very rare that I have to change my hours to work around the kids, but to know it won’t be a major issue is really helpful.
How long have you worked there?
What motivated you to apply to Workingmums?
My job had relocated to London and I was pregnant with my first child. Travelling to London every day from Leamington was not practical for me. I saw the job was marketing, it was varied, homeworking and flexible so I thought this could be a great opportunity.
What did you do before?
Before Workingmums.co.uk I worked at the Adult Learning Inspectorate then Ofsted in the communications department.
Workingmums is a virtual business. What’s the best thing about homeworking? And the worst?
The best, I get a lot of work done, I am focused and for me there are fewer distractions. I like the fact that, because meetings are on the phone, they are efficient and focused so don’t take up too much time, freeing up time to get on with things.
I start work at 9.15 and the kids’ school is just down the road. It is nice to be able to walk to school and back – then run back to school as I usually have forgotten something they need (lunch or judo kit or something) – and be able to start work on time!
I understand that some managers would be sceptical of employees working from home in the fear they would ‘slack off’, but if you get the right employee it can work to the employers’ advantage.
The worst thing is sometimes you can feel isolated and you have to learn to prevent this. I like office chit chat so really miss that.
What are your top tips for homeworkers?
I have been doing this a while now and have gone through different feelings, sometimes wanting to be in an office and most of the time liking working from home.
These are just my tips:
Top tip: Do not buy any food or you will grow! Keep to carrots and broccoli in the fridge!
1. IM is great – it’s good to see when colleagues are around. Also you can have chit chat from time to time so you feel less isolated.
2. A big one for me now: take your lunch break and see it as your time (I love it as I have two children so that hour is mine to do what I want). I usually go out on my bike and if I am feeling a little isolated I go to the local gym.
3. I found when I first started that when you say you work from home you are asked to do things through the day by your partner or others. Find a way to ensure they know your job is as important as theirs. I don’t get asked any more!
4. This maybe just me, but don’t work upstairs – it makes you feel more isolated. Work where there is a big window and you can see people walking past.
5. Put your computer away when you finish work if it is in an area you are in, i.e. the living room. It kind of stays on my mind otherwise and you get tempted to finish off something.
6. Homeworking would not work if you are not passionate about what you do so make sure you apply for a job that you want to succeed at.
What are your top tips for working as part of job share?
Find out what your job shares key skills are and divide work accordingly. You may find your colleague likes doing something you don’t like so much, happy days!
Take control of a project when needed and on the flip side let your job share take control – if you are used to working full time this can be difficult at first as you want to be in control of everything. But see this as a good thing as you can focus on other projects.
Your boss should really look for like-minded people when creating a job share job. If you are full time and are part of the recruitment process so you can go part time I would suggest being part of the interview as you need someone you can get on with, someone like-minded in working style, motivation, etc.
Where’s your desk?
We have an open plan living room and dining area. I have a small desk in the far corner.
What does it look like?
Always organised, clutter free, no crumbs or stains around the desk where I have been eating!!!
How do you stay in touch with colleagues?
I am a big fan of IM: it’s quick and gets problems sorted, but if things need explaining then I like people to call.
Do you take a lunch break?
Always now. Sometimes I take it late as the time goes so quick and there is always something to finish, but I always take it now.
What is your daily rountine?
Get up, fight with children to have a shower and get dressed – it amazes me to this day that we have the same routine, but they still fight it. What’s that all about?
Drop kids off and start work – ahhhh piece and quiet, nice.
Carry out a number of marketing tasks, eat some food, do some exercise at lunch and do some more work.
Collect kids – then act like I run a café with some very demanding customers. Usual conversation – Kid ‘I’m hungry, what you got’, me ‘a sandwich or some fruit’, child: ‘don’t like that what else you got’. Me ‘but you liked that yesterday’. Child ‘but today is another day, what else you got’. Make dinner and they complain ‘don’t like that’. That’s another dinner to cross off the list (the list is getting limited to chicken – with no sauce – mince – with no mushrooms, onions, bits and more – plain rice and pasta and raw carrots!). An hour later the say ‘I’m hungry’ and I reply ‘bedtime now’.
Relax watch a bit of TV read some of my book – currently I’m reading Into the Darkest Corner then I go to bed, ready for the next day!
How often do you see your colleagues?
Depends who it is. Two to three times a year with colleagues I do not directly work with and more for others.
How do you avoid isolation?
Biking riding or the gym at lunchtime.
Making sure I arrange things out of the house in some evenings.
Making sure I walk home with someone from school or chat at the school gates.
How do you balance work and family life?
I have a pretty good balance really, I work 24 hours a week so get to see my two children quite a bit. I take them to school every day and pick up three times a week. The other days they get to do other fun stuff with family which makes them happy.
Can you imagine doing an office job in the future?
There are pros and cons of both ways of working. I am happy working both so, yes, if the need arose I would work in an office.