I’ve been with EDF since 2014, and I currently work in the Sizewell C HR team. During my EDF career, I’ve moved several times internally as well as flexed between full-time and part-time working patterns. Each flexible working request I’ve made has been for a different reason, with every request being fully supported by my line managers and the organisation. This is my story of how flexible working has benefitted me throughout my career at EDF.
I started at EDF in a full-time position with a 4 year old son who was just settling into school. My role required a lot of travel as I was working with people and areas across the whole organisation, moving their training online. My husband was commuting from Brighton to London every day, and we didn’t have any family nearby, so we relied on a childminder for wraparound childcare. I was thankful my manager gave me autonomy and flexibility to balance my hours and travel with family life.
After a couple of years of juggling full-time work with parenting, we had our second, much-longed-for child in August 2016, and I took maternity leave for a year. Although I properly switched off from work during my maternity leave, my manager kept me in touch with any important changes, and I felt supported to return to work as and when I wanted to. My husband and I debated whether I would return to work full-time or request a move to part-time. Factors such as childcare costs and my husband’s company being inflexible with remote and part-time working led us to agree I would request to work part-time three days a week until our daughter started school. My manager approved my flexible working request, and with her support, this arrangement worked well for us as a family and my role within the team for the next few years.
In the summer of 2018, we faced our biggest challenge yet when I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. I took about six months off work to have chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, and fortunately, my husband’s work allowed him to work remotely and flexibly (for the first time!) to care for me. Throughout my time off, my colleagues sent me messages of support, and everything EDF provided, such as the Occupational Health service and paid sick leave, helped enormously. A phased return to work ensured I didn’t rush into anything I wasn’t capable of doing and allowed me to continue to put my health first and foremost in a supported way.
When I was feeling up to it, I returned to my previous part-time working pattern and felt a new positivity for life, having ‘survived’ cancer. When Covid hit, I felt able to deal with the changes and consequences and even appreciated the enforced time we spent at home during lockdown (not homeschooling, though!). Having always worked remotely, I felt comfortable working this way and the fact that everyone else was now having to do the same meant I was now part of the norm.
Unfortunately, I found another lump during the pandemic and just before my daughter started school, and I had to have more surgery and chemotherapy. I decided to work throughout chemo this time, and my manager helped me to flex my working hours around hospital appointments and how well I felt. Keeping busy with work stopped me from dwelling on the situation and helped me stay mentally strong for myself and my family.
I’ve hopefully come out the other side now and am feeling stronger than ever. I kept a flexible working arrangement in place for some time while my mental, emotional and physical health improved but I have chosen to gradually increase my hours to full-time since moving to the Sizewell C project. This transition has been fully supported by my new line manager, my team and the SZC organisation.
Regardless of your situation and circumstances, I believe a flexible working approach and culture can be beneficial for everyone - employees and employers – as it means we’re better able to deal with change, it allows for a more diverse workforce, and it enables people to balance their work with other commitments or responsibilities.
EDF has various employee networks, including a Working Parents Network, which I’m on the committee for, and a Cancer Support Network, which I regularly contribute to. SZC have their own employee networks, including a Disability, Carers and Parent Network. All of the employee networks are invaluable in providing support for employees, and they also provide input and influence to the organisation on policies and guidance to meet employees’ needs.
Most of us strive for a good work/life balance, and our needs can be constantly changing. Working for an organisation that allows us to adapt our professional life around our personal needs makes achieving the balance we want or need much easier. My experience of being able to achieve this at EDF has been a wholly positive one, and I’d highly recommend both EDF and SZC as employers of choice for flexible working.