“I am normally a little skeptical when people mention ‘flexible working’ within the TV industry,” writes Clair Titley, PD on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme. “In my experience, ‘flexible working’ in TV means that the Production Manager will order you a pizza if you have to work beyond 9pm. The only people I had come across in TV who actually worked flexible hours were Execs or possibly Series Producers – certainly not PDs or APs.” Keep reading and you’ll discover that Clair is currently working flexibly in TV…
So when my daughter was about one year old, I threw myself back into work full-time. I loved being back in production – it was a breath of fresh air after a year of nappies. But I really struggled with not seeing my daughter when the inevitable long hours and weeks kicked in. I assumed there was no other way to work though. I then found myself at a cross-roads, not wanting or able to go back to a full-time career, but very reluctant to give up a career that I absolutely love and feel very passionately about.
Somehow I got chatting to Amy Walker from Media Parents over the phone and told her my situation. I think her words were “You can’t tell me its not possible!” and she persuaded me there was an alternative to the all-or-nothing scenarios. I applied for the Media Parents Back to Work scheme and suddenly found myself in Edinburgh at the TV Festival networking again.
It’s amazing when you get talking to people, whether its the BBC’s former Chief Creative Officer Pat Younge, or junior production staff, how common the issue of juggling family life and work life is. But I also discovered that although there tend to be very few flexible jobs advertised – there are people out there who are willing to consider different ways of working. It might mean finding more creative solutions to a role, whether that be job-sharing or longer pre-production periods – but perhaps there is some hope after all? Someone also pointed out that some productions might even greatly benefit from only having to pay me part-time, but still gaining all my expertise.
So I’ve returned from Edinburgh with a bunch of new contacts, including Channel 4′s Deputy Head of Features Alex Menzies, and Channel 4′s Deputy Chief Creative Officer Ralph Lee as my mentor, some new ideas and most importantly, more confidence in asking for flexible working. Before, if I asked a potential employer about working part-time I was sure I could see their eyes glazing over – and I would assume that the conversation had ended. But by the end of the festival, having spoken to a variety of other mums and carers in TV, I found that there might be ways that my flexible working might help employers – it just requires a little more creativity on both sides to work out how!
Clair Titley is now working flexibly, 2 or 3 days a week in Bristol.