How long until modern day dads are working 2 to 3 days a week?

We're thrilled to share this fantastic piece by Han-Son Lee, founder of Daddilife, a leading parenting website for dads. Han-Son explains why flexible working can't be seen as an issue for mothers only, and the importance of enabling flexible working for dads too so that the modern day family can thrive.

*Editor's note. We had planned to publish this piece prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the delay to publishing has shown that this is an even more important issue now. With talk of an economic crisis larger than we've ever seen before, which is expected to affect more women than men, plus the fact that businesses that had previously refused flexible working have had to fully embrace it, we need to keep moving forward when it comes to enabling flexible working for everyone.

Flexible Working. What does that term mean to you? For many years, it has become an area that has predominantly been seen as 'mums-only', and it still suffers from both the perception of being ‘less work’, and in the availability of genuinely flexible jobs. Thank goodness for platforms like 2to3days!

But a new dawn is arriving - quickly - and it's being powered by modern day dads. A new generation of parents are becoming far more equalized when it comes to their parental activities, and it’s this true parental balance that’s starting to occur more and more at home.

87% of all the dads we surveyed in our Research Programme with Deloitte, The Millennial Dad at Work, said they were actively involved in day to day parental tasks, with almost 6 in 10 (58%) being fully equalized with partners.

This generational change for dads is starting to shape services in a totally different way – from dad focussed play groups, through to the advent of new products like dad changing bags!

But there’s one area we now need to shift through the gears if we’re going to realise the full potential of this change…at work!

Dads at Work | The battle ahead

When we surveyed over 2000 working dads for our Millennial Dad at Work research programme we asked dads about a number of areas when it comes to their work life.

Overall, only just over 1 in 2 dads believed that fathers as a whole in their organisations were treated equally to mothers in regards of flexibility.

When it came to what dads were requesting for flexible working vs what was being granted, the following puts the challenge ahead in even more stark terms.

  • 14% of all the dads surveyed had requested working from home 1-2 days a week. Of those only 19% were granted it.

  • 9% of all the dads surveyed had requested working from home 3 / 3+ days a week. Of those, only 12% were granted it.

As stated earlier, this is a generational shift, and much of this tension still lies with the differences at work and home between different generations of fathers.

However, even with that said, unless we improve the numbers of fathers who are able to work 2 to 3 days a week (whether at home or in total), then we’re not going to move the dial for all parts of the modern day family to thrive. It’s something that all industries – new and old – should be waking up to.

There’s a role for both employers and the fathers themselves to play in making this happen.

What employers need to do:

  • How well do you know your dads? Before knowing what needs to be done, employers need to ask themselves how well they really understand their dads in their teams? Men’s emotional language at work is different in that men as a whole aren’t always good at being vulnerable at work. It’s for that reasons that we’ve run a number of sessions and workshops for some of the largest and smallest organisations to help them really understand dads.

  • Parental support is key. Getting dads talking is key, as is providing the learning and support framework for dads as well as mums. When we partnered with The Parent Mentor and Avenir Consulting to create Dad Connect. It matches dads with other dads in a very specific way, and after working with dads across RBS, Deloitte and others, it’s been great to see that success in action.

  • Does the policy match the culture? What your policies say about your organization is about how well they reflect your culture. Do they need changing? Even the largest companies are now changing theirs around dads, and that change is only just beginning.

What dads need to do:

  • Ask for it. Perhaps you’re thinking of making a change? We need more dads to be pioneers by taking that first brave step to ask for the flexibility you need.

  • Create your own dad networks in the organization: Having a dad-friendly voice is key. We’ve created a number of dad networks for organisations, and even just having one more dad in a network can be the key.

  • Have a clear view of success that you can sell into the organization. What does it mean for your productivity levels? How can you use that as part of your narrative when discussing this need for yourself, and / or your wider team too?