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How to create a system where we can win at home and at work? 

Let’s look to the #WorkSchoolHours framework 

Dr Ellen Joan Ford

Why is it that we are expected to work as though we don’t have children, and parent as though we don’t have jobs? How has this impossible bind become our “normal” when it’s so clearly damaging our productivity, our well-being, and our workplace retention rates?  


It’s time to change the way we work. 


After years of leadership roles, research, advocacy work, and a PhD, I’ve put together a frameworks-based solution. It’s called #WorkSchoolHours

This model is about moving past the rigid 40-hour, 9-to-5 work week, and towards flexibility and autonomy. The result goes beyond just work-life balance – it also means better productivity and stronger commercial outcomes for business. 

#WorkSchoolHours puts forward a set of principles, rather than tick-boxes: 


Address the societal-wide issue facing parents – that of the mismatch in timetables between adults and children – and do more to align work with school hours where possible.


Adopt a staff-centric and individualised approach to providing flexibility and autonomy that enables team members to also tend to their personal responsibilities (be that children, hobbies, or something else). 


Focus more on outputs (what teams actually deliver) rather than inputs (how many hours each person works). 

These are the building blocks towards a more flexible future of working. Whether you’re an employee, a parent looking to go back to work, or an employer – #WorkSchoolHours can help develop a more sustainable approach to working. 

Dr Ellen Joan Ford is the author of #WorkSchoolHours – A Revolution for Parents, Workplaces and the World, and has won national leadership awards including the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award 2024 and KiwiBank Person of the Year Local Hero Award 2023. Be part of the movement changing the way we work by visiting 

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