Flexible working is a hot topic and something we’ve featured on D.A.D previously (see our articles written by the BBC’s Sarah Harris and Tom Ridsdale), but for many UK businesses it’s still an alien concept and we’re being left far behind some of the more family-friendly nations such as Iceland, The Netherlands and Norway where different schemes are being initiated to give parents more time at home.

There has, unfortunately, been little uptake on the Government’s Shared Parental Leave scheme in the UK for a number of reasons but we’re happy to say that there are some individuals and organisations attempting to lead the way and open doors for parents (and that does mean dads as well) that don’t necessarily want to – or simply can’t – work a traditional full or part-time job.

The Daisy Chain is one such company and we spoke to its founder Louise Deverell-Smith.

D.A.D: What is the biggest thing you have learned about flexible working since your launch?
LDS: The biggest thing I’ve learnt about flexible working is that it affects everyone, not just mums or dads. Everyone’s work/life circumstances are different, and there isn’t (and shouldn’t) be a ‘one size fits all’ mentality.

There is a real need for employers to think outside the box of the 9-5 working day. And nowadays it’s so easy to create that working environment to enhance people’s work/life balance.

My struggle is to convince employers that offering ‘flexible’ work is a positive thing, and for employers not to be nervous of the word ‘flexible’ in their work environment.

D.A.D: What needs to be done to support parents more in flexible working?
LDS: I think employers should be totally honest about what they can offer their employers – so anything from their shared paternity policy, to them being open to discussion about what flexibility their current role could offer.

I think lots of parents are still nervous to even mention they are a mum or dad as they think the stereotypical thoughts will pop into employers heads (‘oh they will always be off when their kids are sick’ or ‘they will always be late due to dropping off their kids’). Being a parent is a positive thing and should be celebrated!

I think the main thing is for employers and employees to be totally honest about what each one requires and talk about it. Honesty really is the best policy!

D.A.D: How has the reaction been so far to The Daisy Chain?
LDS: The reaction has been amazing! I was really nervous before we launched about whether we’d get any parents signing up. I had already sold the concept to employers, but I was nervous about how it would be received by the parents…and I’ve be amazed by the fantastic parents that have signed up!

I have also been amazed at how the dads have really come forward and said… “Hello, don’t forget us too!”

And I‘ve also been really pleased with the employers that have joined The Daisy Chain. They totally get what us parents need and want, and to be honest I haven’t had to ‘hard-sell’ the concept to anyone (which isn’t my forte anyway to be honest, and I also don’t believe we should hard-sell this – either you get it, or you don’t).

I even got an invite to The Houses of Parliament to discuss gender diversification in the workforce which was amazing as I’d never been invited to anything quite so grand…the first person I had to tell was my dad!

D.A.D: What are your growth plans for The Daisy Chain?
LDS: I hope that we attract many more brilliant and talented parents to The Daisy Chain, and also for us to expand into new sectors – so Creative, Finance, Law, Marketing etc.

I truly believe the candidate’s skills can be transferred into different sectors, and so having a talent pool of fab parents looking for something to enhance their career and work/life balance can be transferred into any sector.

I’m also really looking forward to seeing where The Daisy Chain blog goes and the people we connect with and work together with, so we can really advise and give parents confidence, at work and at home!

For more information or to register with The Daisy Chain visit thedaisy-chain.com and watch this space for a D.A.D / The Daisy Chain collaboration soon.

Image is from a series called ‘Dad Time’ by photographer Callie Lipkin