‘Without flexible working I wouldn’t be able to work’

Udani Perera talks to workingmums.co.uk about how the flexible working offered by her employer ISON Travel has made all the difference to her.

 

Udani Perera is events travel coordinator at fast-growing ISON Travel and deals with events across the world, including motor racing events and pharmaceutical meetings. She has been there since September and works mainly from home, with occasional office days. It’s a huge turnaround from her previous job.

Udani started at ISON Travel after having to resign from a large travel company last April after her husband got a job in Iraq, which meant she needed extra flexibility.

Udani [pictured right] has two children, aged seven and six. Her previous employer was very strict on timing and she was finding it very stressful doing the school run. It usually takes her around 40 minutes, but her former employer was only willing to give her 30, which meant she was constantly stressed. Her son is on the autistic spectrum so he can sometimes get upset over things like forgetting his water bottle. Calming him down added time to the school run and increased the pressure on Udani. “Sometimes I had to carry him screaming because I was worried about being late,” she says.

When she had her interview with ISON Travel Udani mentioned that she would like to take her lunch break between three and four so she wouldn’t have to rush. She also asked if it was ok to walk her children to school in the morning so she can get some exercise – ISON Travel workers are mainly home-based. The manager said yes immediately.

It was such a difference to her previous employer and, as a result, Udani, who normally finishes at 5.30pm, says she is very happy to work later on occasion on busy days when her husband is around. “The understanding goes both ways,” she says. At her previous job she had to work until 6pm. What’s more, she had to do a lot of calls and they didn’t like children in the background. ISON is completely different and most of the work is done on email.

Flexibility makes it all work

The flexibility that ISON Travel shows comes from the top. Founder Helen Cannon is herself a mum of five and established the business in part to provide mums with the kind of flexible working they need, particularly single mums. “I appreciate it so much,” says Udani, adding that it is a huge retention driver for her. “When my husband is away I work like a single mum. When he is around I have more flexibility. Without the flexibility ISON has given me I would not be able to work.”

Udani moved to the UK from Kazakhstan in 2020 and has no family nearby so she values the fact that ISON Travel is also flexible around her children’s illnesses. That means that when her daughter was ill on a company day in December, she was able to stay working from home. “Everyone is very supportive,’ she says.

 



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