We all live flexibly, it makes sense to work flexibly!
Margaret M. Walton | Senior Planner
Margaret works at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin group, in Savannah, Georgia. This is her story about how the business has flexed with her & her husband’s changing lifestyle, her progression into motherhood, and been supportive of her other professional interests. Although a ‘flexible yet crazy schedule’, it works for her and she hopes it might help others figure out their balance.
My first foray into flexible working
Prior to 2013, I had been with Atkins about 7 years and had actually gone from working in an office and then requesting to work remotely because my fiancée (now husband) had been transferred to a different city. It was a huge adjustment for me being an outgoing and sociable person. I’d worked fast and furiously full-time. And even done an extensive amount of travel for the job, working in the emergency management arena in Columbia, South Carolina and then moving to Savannah, Georgia.
And baby makes three…
At the same time, we were expecting our first child in June 2013 and we knew that the logistics of our life were sure to get a bit hairy. My husband’s job already had an unpredictable schedule so we knew that one of us would have to slow down a bit work-wise and it was best if it were me.
Once I had our daughter, I not only took 3 months of maternity leave but curtailed all of my overnight travel for the first year of her life! It was amazing to be able to do that, given that I was a first-time mom and breastfeeding. I continued to work part-time for the next couple of years.
Progressing my career flexibly
In year 3 I was offered the opportunity to manage a group of planners. Of course, it was great for my professional growth but I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do it part-time. However, my supervisor was willing for me do what suited my life and schedule. There were certainly times that I had to work more to handle the management responsibilities along with my project duties. But the beauty of the flexible and remote working schedule was that I could work anytime at home to catch up, whether it was early morning (not usually) or late night (more likely, because I’m a night owl).
Pursuing a personal passion
I found my productive times and was able to make it work. I even managed to include something else I really enjoy — teaching undergraduate courses online. This was somewhat flexible too and Atkins was extremely supportive of me doing it in addition to my role at the company. In 2015 and 2016, the hurricane season provided an overwhelming and intense workload for me. I found myself working every night into the night to stay afloat.
Another addition to the family
Eventually things began to even out and then I became pregnant with our second child. So boy did I need to make a change again… With the support of the business, I was able to cut back and took 13 weeks off to be with my baby boy! I limited my overnight travel again for the first year of his life. My older child is now in school and most days I’m able to pick her up MYSELF and ask her about her day — and that is worth more than anything to me!