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With #WorkSchoolHours gaining traction, employees are harvesting the benefits. But what about business owners and employers? Will this trend make or break their bottom line? Let’s dive in and see how it’s shaking up the business world. 

A new campaign is revolutionising the way we approach work, challenging systems that have been in place for decades and it’s all being led by Manawatū local, Dr Ellen Joan Ford. 

An ANZAC veteran, KiwiBank New Zealander of the Year – Local Hero, Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award recipient, an academic, a leader in the corporate world, speaker, facilitator, and a proud mum of two – Ellen has combined years of research and lived experience to create a commercially-smarter way to make work work for everyone. We were lucky enough to sit down with her for a quick Q&A ahead of her local book launch in Feilding to find out more about this world-changing initiative.   

Let’s start at the beginning. What is #WorkSchoolHours and how did it come about?

My post-doctoral research focused on the experiences of working parents. Data from hundreds of parents, across a wide-range of sectors, revealed that parents’ experiences fitted into one of three categories. (1) Not being able to make (paid) work work (2) Working full-time and missing moments with their children (3) Working part-time with part-time pay, yet no reduction in their KPIs, outputs or responsibilities – essentially getting a pay cut for being more efficient at their job. As a Mum myself, I didn’t like this future for myself, or for others, and so I wanted to do something about it. That is how #WorkSchoolHours was born. 

It sounds great! But is it an initiative that small businesses can truly implement? Or is this something that only works for the big companies

#WorkSchoolHours is not a dogmatic set of rules, it is based on three principles. (1) Value that people have things they care about outside of work (2) Focus on outputs rather than inputs (hours) (3) Focus on flexibility. It’s all about applying the principles when and where you can. Businesses of all sizes, and in all industries, can implement changes, to make changes. 

The benefit for employees is clear, but what does #WorkSchoolHours mean for business owners and employers? Will it
impact their bottom dollar?

This is the bit that excites me!! I am driven by social cause, by my heart, but #WorkSchoolHours is a commercially smart business proposition. If organisations want to attract and retain great talent, they need to create an environment where their team can thrive. People want more flexibility. They want to be valued as whole humans, not just as workers.
Organisations that provide great workplace environments have happier, better engaged, more motivated people. And there is SO much research that shows that there is a direct corelation between happiness and productivity. People who feel good at work make the organisation more money!

So, it only applies to mums and dads, right?

No! The genesis for #WorkSchoolHours was absolutely in response to the societal wide problem that sees parents having to work like they don’t have children, and parent like they don’t have jobs. However, #WorkSchoolHours isn’t to serve parents and shaft non-parents – it’s for everyone. Everyone has things they care about outside of work, not just parents.

What research has been done to support #WorkSchoolHours?

My PhD and post-doctoral research was the starting point. This then evolved to my book and the online courses: #WorkSchoolHours: A revolution for parents, workplaces and the world. The book and online courses are packed with global research to support the movement, and more importantly, they have lots of case studies to give organisations practical examples to implement.

How does someone take the first step to implementing #WorkSchoolHours in their day to day?

Grab a copy of my new book and purchase one of the (self-paced) online courses, to get more information. Beyond this, talk with your team: “How might we apply the principles of #WorkSchoolHours, to improve flexibility, while also achieving our organisational goals.”

Find out more at

This was published in the 60 seconds with newsletter on the 22/03/24

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