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Flexibility comes first for Jade's family

Working flexibly, or not at all - that’s how much flexible work has empowered people like Jade Paterson, Principal Finance Business Partner, at BHP’s New South Wales Energy Coal's (NSWEC) Mt Arthur Coal mine in the New South Wales Hunter Valley. 

After almost 10 years with BHP, and three rounds of parental leave, Jade has witnessed firsthand the cultural shift towards embracing flexibility.

Upon reflecting on how much the business had changed between 2014 and returning to work after her second child in 2017, Jade wasn’t sure what to expect at first.

“When I returned to work I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience,” Jade said.

“I was taken aback by how much the culture had changed in just three short years”.

When Jade returned from her third round of parental leave in 2019, she was somewhat of an expert.

She started back part-time at three days a week for the first few months then bumped it up to four while her husband Russ, who also works at Mt Arthur Coal, took parental leave to care for their three children.

“I believe a big part of flexible working is finding out what works best for you, your family and your team. After Russ went back to work I decided to trial a job share arrangement with a colleague and I think this was one of the most sustainable options flex work options I have tried to date,” Jade said.

Now back working three days a week and preparing to increase to four in the near future, Jade believes she’s figured out how to make flex work for her and her family.

“I honestly couldn’t work without flex work. Not only am I part-time, but I’m able to adapt those hours as needed, “Jade said.

Jade considers herself an advocate for flex work. She also believes the more we talk about and normalise working flexibly, the easier it will be for the next person.

Jade’s advice for anyone looking to establish a flex work arrangement is to “just go for it!"

“It’s so important to be clear on your boundaries and structure the arrangement around them whilst remembering that flexible work, by definition, has to be flexible both ways," Jade said.

At BHP, flexible work is available to everyone, not just those with family commitments, and is necessary as we adapt to new ways of working with COVID-19.