We know that becoming a parent can shift your attitude and priorities, and this is exactly what happened for Mark Ferris, a Product Manager in Customer Markets at AGL.

During the first six months of his son Jude’s life, Mark started to notice a disconnect between him and his wife Tara when it came to household responsibilities. Tara was organising most of their son’s day to day upbringing, including managing his meal plans, clothes and sleep schedule, while Mark was away at work.

With the help of AGL’s flexible working arrangements, Mark was already working from home one day each week, and it wasn’t long before he decided to take 18 weeks of paid parental leave – which he now believes is one of the ‘best things he’s ever done’.

Meet Mark

Two years ago, my wife Tara and I escaped the hustle and bustle of city life to pursue a more peaceful existence in the small, beachside community of Torquay – located on the gateway to the Great Ocean Road. We hoped to one day bring our kids up by the coast, making the most of everything the beach-lifestyle has to offer.

I’ve been working flexibly for more than two years now. For me, flexible working means working from home once a week and leaving early each day to work on the train during my two-hour commute. This arrangement allows me to get home while the sun is still up, and more importantly, before our son Jude heads off to bed.

I also took 18 weeks of paid parental leave last year, which was truly a priceless experience – by far the best thing I’ve ever done. Spending each day with our son, experiencing all the highs and lows, gave me a better understanding of what parenthood is all about. My wife and I took regular walks in the park with Jude, organised fun activities and excursions, and shared the domestic duties like preparing meals and washing his (many!) outfits each day.

As a Product Manager within Customer Markets, my role is to manage our energy retail offerings – which includes developing innovative energy plans, and helping our customers to get the most out of their energy.

I’m extremely passionate about my work, and I work very hard every day, but there is this whole other side to life that shouldn’t need to take a back seat – and that’s my family time.

There is definitely still an old school mindset hovering in the background at times, where some people believe you're not working as hard from home as those who are in the office. There can also be this inference that when you're working from home, you need to be sitting at a desk from 9am – 5pm.

But that’s not what flexible working is about.

You don't need to be sitting at your desk the whole time during those hours to be effective (you never do that when you're in the office either!). Provided you make yourself available when your colleagues need you, that you get your work done, and you do your job well, flexible working simply allows you to work at the times that best suit your needs. This may mean logging in early in the morning, or later in the evening once your kids are asleep.

Happy employees make good employees, and allowing people to live their lives outside of work while effectively completing the job they were hired for has many benefits – for both the individual and the organisation.

AGL’s flexible working and paid parental leave have definitely allowed me to enjoy my life to the full. Over the past year, I’ve been able to spend quality time with Tara, Jude, and our two fluffy pups. I know now that the two most important realms in my life – my work and my family – can truly coexist, and that they can both receive the right amount of attention in my life.