Anna Whitehouse: Paving the way to flexible working

Spreading the word on flexible working, Anna Whitehouse, AKA Mother Pukka is a force to be reckoned with. The best-selling author and social media influencer talks to us about standing up for change and using wine bottles for weights.

What does your daily routine look like?

“Because I work so flexibly, my daily routine is a bit all over the place, but the one thing I always do is have my morning Weetabix, then I’m good to go!”

How does exercise make you feel?

“I’m pretty #basic when it comes to exercise! I use wine bottles for weights and I’m not somebody who has all the gear and all the ideas, but there’s a great routine I can easily fit in to my working day and can do at home. I definitely want to do more exercise and I’m working on carving out more time to do it because you feel so much better once you’ve done a workout.”

Wellbeing at work is so important now, do you think that was the case when you launched Flex Appeal?

“We first launched Flex Appeal to fight for a more human/humane way of working and that really ties into mental health side of things, but it was never really intended as that. I think mental health is hugely important, especially when you come back to work, you’re dealing with separation anxiety, you might be dealing with post-natal depression and these things are the reason why employers need to be more flexible around how we work.”

How do you deal with the online critics?

“I think people are entitled to their opinions and, actually, some of my biggest sceptics have become my closest friends. On Instagram we do get a lot of support, but it terms of Flex Appeal it’s definitely a broader issue with some people who might not understand the benefits of flexible working. It’s those kind of situations where we could get comments, such as ‘you’re the reason I wouldn’t employ a pregnant woman’, and to that I say ‘well, why? How do you think you’re even here?’. The way I handle those sorts of people is pouring that fuel into the campaign and they’re the very reason we’re continuing.”

What is the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn since launching the campaign?

“I think just recognising that change just doesn’t happen as quickly as you want it to and you can’t continue at the cost of your own mental health. There’s no point in driving yourself to the point where you break because nothing will be achieved from that, so I’ve had to accept that although I’ve wanted to change things quickly, the long game is actually a good thing. We’ve now put down a 15-year plan, which is actually more practical and hopefully things would have changed by the time our daughters are in the working world.”