My mother was one of the “Ten Pound Poms” who emigrated to Australia in the early 1960s where she enjoyed a free-wheeling time working and travelling the country on a motorbike. She married and had a daughter, my sister. Sadly, the marriage failed, and she returned to England, a single mother in a judgemental world.
Back in the UK, she trained as a teacher as it was the only job that allowed her school holidays off to care for her daughter. There was little support or family help. Some years later she met my father and they married, my brother and I were born soon after. She continued teaching throughout my childhood, always around to look after us during the school holidays.
She was fiercely independent, had her own money, her own bank accounts and paid her own bills. Sadly, she is dead now, but I learnt so many valuable lessons from her, many of which guide me in the way I run Valentte to this day.
I have always believed in giving “mums” the opportunity and flexibility to work. It has been at the heart of our employment practices right from the beginning.
Almost all our production team are working mums. They have school-aged children, so they drop kids off at school first and then usually arrive at work at 9:30 am. We don’t monitor this time. They arrive when they arrive. We understand that sometimes things get in the way.
They work until 2:30 pm and then off they go to collect kids again. We never ask them to stay late as they have commitments at home. They choose the number of days they want to work based on their other responsibilities and how much money they want or need to earn.
During school holidays they work less, and we plan our production accordingly. Last Summer they asked if they could work nights instead of days during school holidays. They explained that the cost of childcare during the holidays meant they didn’t see any of their earnings. So, they started doing some nights; they arrived after partners got home from work at about 7 pm and they worked until midnight, or 1 am.
We have built this flexibility into the way we run Valentte. Of course, it takes a bit of extra organisation, a bit more understanding and sympathy. It’s a two-way street, involving give and take. But it has resulted in a fabulous team; they are loyal and hard working. Most have been with me for many years, from back when we made stock from home rather than in our shiny new unit on Gate Farm.
We have expanded this situation to include home workers who are now packing the scent samples from home. Again, they are mums who choose when they work and for how long. We post the mini spray bottles, envelopes and labels to them and they fit the work around their childcare.
I think this approach has been a critical part of our success. It surprises me how few companies are prepared to embrace truly flexible working practices. I feel very proud of our team of mums and wish my mother had been around to meet them.
On behalf of all our team, I would like to say a huge thank you for supporting us on our journey to bring wonderful, mood boosting, scented products to every person who needs an emotional lift. Please help us by spreading the word!
24 thoughts on “Flexible Working”
What a great blog Luke! Us Mums have a tough job and it’s so refreshing to hear from an employer who recognises their employment needs. I had to give up work in the seventies to look after my children. Money was tight and I typed envelopes at home to earn some extra pennies. Once they were at school I returned to work on a part time basis and am still working at the age of 69. keep up the good work and hats off to your lovely Mum. X
Thanks Julie. It’s great to hear that you are still working and staying active. I think it is the key to staying fit and healthy. My father is now in his mid-seventies and travels constantly, has a new partner and a better social life than I ever manage! I hope I can do the same as you guys when the time comes. Best Wishes
Luke it was delightful to read about your inspirational mum. And encouraging to know that you care for your workforce by letting them work flexible hours. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks Helen. Best Wishes
Luke I think your mum would be very proud of you. I became a lecturer for exactly the same reasons as your mum and was able to work part time to be there for my kids. It is so important that kids have that stability and care in their lives and I am so pleased you recognise and support this. I am definitely going to buy more of your lovely products to support your flexible working policy. Way to go. Xxx
Thanks, Teresa, I wish other professions beyond education would recognise that work doesn’t have to be done 9-5 and 52 weeks a year. I just finished listening to Tim Ferris’s book The Four Hour Working Week and loved the parts where he is suggesting employees negotiate home working situations and then combine travel and work.
Really joyful to hear a true story behind the company. I love the ethos you bring to your company. I love the fine fragrances and the quality! Good on you for the flexibility you offer your workers. I hope more companies follow!…
Thanks, Arthea, I wish more companies would implement it too. It has been easy to put in place and we have ended up with a dedicated, hard-working team. Best Wishes
I thought Valentte is just another small business but after reading this post I think you guys rock! I have so much more respect and admiration for Valentte for giving moms an opportunity to be independent and take care of their kids.
Thanks, Inga. I really appreciate your kind words. Best Wishes
Fab post Luke. It’s wonderful you encourage flexibility.
Thanks Anj x
I do admire your company philosophy and being flexible for working Mums. My mother was born in 1926 and was one of the few working Mums of her generation. She set up a business and was an inspiration to me, like your Mum, so it wasn’t surprising that I became a full time working Mum too. Here’s to celebrating strong mother role models which I hope I have become to my daughter too!
Hi Kim, wow, that’s cool that your mum set up a business. I can imagine how rare that was. Hats off to her.
Lovely story I’ve worked with some great bosses through my years and a couple stinkers but of sounds as if your one of the good 1s .
I’ve been a boss to and hopefully was good 1 lol
I always maintained we were all here because it was work to live not live to work
I’ve had a sample from you or waiting not sure
Your right about mums well most mines was a hard worker too & had 6 to bring up
Anyway keep up the good work
Wow Luke I was really impressed to hear your work ethos is about flexibility within your workforce and it shows how if you value your staff they become a solid & productive team. I worked in the nhs for 47yrs & sometimes struggled getting the right hours to fit around childcare. Some managers had no idea about the needs of mums coming back to work & a lot of them continue to struggle because of it.
Long may Valentte continue ?
Being a full time parent myself reading this really touched me and made me realise that the world isnt full of selfish angry people. I would love to work in a place this relaxed. having understanding can really make all the difference but not only that Staff will come to work less stressed And more eager with a honest true smile.
10:10. I’m not a mom. Like to see that attitude tho and the planning so that other staff don’t have to take the slack as has happened to me so often. I would def employ moms to work flexibly.
I wrote to you last week complimenting you on your inspirational articles, recently
my husband died and your sort of thoughts are very soothing to me. I sent an e.mail but it was returned as unabkle to be sent so I thought o.k. Now I`ve seen this blog thing and thought I`d give it a try just to let you know how lovely it is to read your comments on life etc., I have only bought your products at Ascot racecourse, are they available in other shops ? I must try harder to find you. Thanks again for soothing an old lady who loves to read your comments. Pat B xx
I really enjoy reading your blogs. They are so sensitively written, straight from your heart and experience.
Well done to you all on such flexible working practices. Sadly not all positions can be so effectively managed. When I was a young mum working full time, apart from spending so much of my income on care of the children, it was very stressful when important situations were demanding my time at work and I really needed to get back to the family. I loved my job but you know, I would happily have had a smaller salary, with a less stressful job, in a truly caring company such as yours, for the fantastic flexibility you offer. No wonder you keep your staff for years. Many a larger organisation would do well to take a leaf or two out of your book. Back in the eighties, I always said that working mums were the best employees because they were efficient and dedicated and used to keeping so many balls in the air.
I received some samples from you, having visited your stand at the Ideal Home Exhibition in Glasgow. I love your products.
Best wishes in all your future endeavours,
Can I please ask if your home workers have to be local?
If not, I would love to be considered.
I have Crohns disease and so am stuck in the house and desperately need something to occupy my time.
Have a lovely weekend
Sounds like an amazing company to work for. Well done all at valentte, think a lot more companies should do the same. Apart from having amazing products you have amazing ethics too x
Wow what a wonderful company you must be to work for. Wish I had had the opportunity to work for a company like yours instead of stressing when the children were ill etc. Well done
As a first time Mum who has recently gone back to work, I want to thank you for having the fore sight to treat your staff in such a compassionate manner.
Someone said to me early on that you leave work to have a child and in doing so become a different person, yet you return and you are expected to be the same person that left.
I love my son but I also love working and providing for us. Your employees are lucky to have your support.