Key learning points
1.Changing attitudes to part-time and flexible working
2.How part-time workers could contribute just as much as full-time workers
3.Tips for how you can make the shift to part-time work
Today on the Risky Mix podcast we’re delighted to be rejoined by Rebekah Bostan, Director of Research and Insight at InsTech. Through sharing her learnings as a 14-year award-winning flexible worker, Rebekah will take us through the advantages that part-time work arrangements can offer both employees and businesses and will also challenge the stereotypes that surround this type of work, before providing some tips on how to ask your employer for a part-time role.
Rebekah begins by sharing how she looked to pursue part-time work after starting her family relatively young. It was the early-2000s, so part-time and flexible work options were quite rare, but as she was looking to balance childcare with caring for her partner with a disability, she was determined. She made a bold request and with a bit of help from lady luck, was successful in securing a part-time role. Rebekah tells us that this set-up not only allowed her to balance household responsibilities but also to do other things – she helped rebuild her local community centre and became a board member in local organisations.
Discussing attitudes to flexible work, Rebekah explains how throughout her career she encountered a wealth of ‘superfluous’ reasons for why part-time would never work, and yet during the pandemic, flexible working has proved completely possible. People have had no choice but to juggle work with caring requirements and social distancing necessitated work-from-home arrangements. But there is a long way to go for changing perceptions on part-work. She tells us of its ‘gendered nature’ as mostly women work part-time; often it’s seen as going down a ‘mummy career track’. Rebekah says you are still perceived as contributing less if not working a five-day week. Yet having experienced both full and part-time roles, Rebekah tells us that part-time workers are some of the ‘most structured, efficient, organised people because they have narrow time to do the work’. Working five days a week, she argues, can leave the door open for unproductive tasks and procrastination.
Rebekah also shares with us her ‘formula’ for how to ask your employer for part-time work:
1.Recognise the business before yourself. It’s not just about what you need - you have the right to ask for part-time work, but you don’t have the right to be granted it – your employer isn’t obliged to make changes unless it’s a medical adjustment. So you need to think about how you going part-time would benefit the business too.
2.All teams have their limits – think about what consequences your move to part-time will have on your managers and team members. Lots of teams are often overstretched and exhausted – so a request could be viewed as additional pressure - how will you counter this?
3.Recognise the role of manager discretion. Take time to figure out what your managers are worried about. Eg, is it cost, delivery timelines, or headcount? This can help you form a counterargument.
4.Triage your role. Get your work tasks down on paper, and sort them into three circles):
a.The ‘core’ tasks – high-value stuff that’s important to your manager or next job – the things you can’t compromise on and you will keep.
b.‘Low-value tasks’ – can these be automated, or even stopped?
c.The ‘delegation’ tasks – these should be sold as a golden opportunity to the people doing them – how can these grow your team’s skills?
5.Treat it like you are building a business case!
Rebekah also recommends looking at the charity Timewise (https://timewise.co.uk).