It was through her experience as a business coach that 2to3days founder and CEO Juliet Turnbull discovered entrepreneurial businesses are in dire need of great talent, but not necessarily all the time.
Being a mother herself, Turnbull was in contact with passionate and talented mothers who were only able to work part-time. Noticing, through research, that nobody was bridging this gap – bar a very hit and miss, unpersonalised message board system – she set about creating a system.
She also discovered that women were not only after access to jobs but also experts to “help them be as good as they can”. Because of that, 2to3days will provide a way for mothers to have access to an online private forum where they can discuss issues with other mothers and utilise a mentoring programme populated by independently-rated experts.
Her business is in its infancy, and will be hard launching in the spring, but is tapping into a discourse examined in depth during the recent Real Business First Women Summit. In February, the conference featured a panel discussion on flexible working – seeing how issues such as creative remuneration packages, job shares, paternity leave and working from home could drive a new way of thinking for businesses that want to get the most from management.
Already, 2to3days has got nearly 2,000 mothers registered, 70 employers signed up and has placed three women in jobs. “What is interesting is whether they are small businesses or large ones like PwC, they are all interested,” Turnbull commented. “Deloitte told me that they just don’t know how to find these women.”
The platform is providing every work structure except for a full-time Monday to Friday 9-5. Some mothers, she explained, want work five mornings a week and others three long days. Some businesses need project work for a month or two while others need a couple of hours a week. “They are valued for output not time in the office. As one entrepreneur told me, they get a full-time brain for part-time hours.”
Turnbull is keen to emphasise that 2to3days is not a jobs board or a recruitment site, rather a private community where everybody pays – creating a committed and motivated community. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a global corporate or two-man band, you can get value from part-time mothers,” Turnbull explained.
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Her gut feeling is that SMEs will get behind what she is doing first, after which corporates will feel fuelled to take part. Another new addition to the platform is a tool allowing companies to manage large pools of talent on a flexible basis – a kind of talent management system. Launching this summer, it came on the back of talking to large corporates which relayed the message that there was a need for resource at critical times of year.
“I haven’t got in contact with the government yet as they wouldn’t be interested until its a proven concept,” Turnbull went on to say. “However, I have had one MP who said she wants to get involved with us. We want to become the number one place for politicians and economists to find out the real deal on the street.”
What it also does, Turnbull believes, is bring to the political agenda the debate of whether a mother will return to work and if they’ll have a second child. “Businesses can’t ask that question, but if we had a more open culture they could ask and then plan with staff to produce an agreeable outcome for everyone,” she added.
While 2to3days is not targeting men taking time off to raise young children, Turnbull sees no reason why it could not do so one day.
Big changes to employment law during 2015, from flexible working to shared parental leave, will greatly impact on the way in which men and women go about forging careers. For 2to3days, it is about providing a flexible approach that takes a bit of the financial burden off of rearing a child and means Britain is not missing out on crucial talent.
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