Make Flexible Working Work

We asked a group of part-time working professionals for their top tips on how they make flexible working work for them and their employers. This is what they had to say:

Optimise your Time

Every minute counts when you’re working part-time. Our members try to make time work for them, not against them.

“Being part-time and needing to leave promptly means being very organised in work all the time. I work solidly for the hours that I am in the office and I think it is important to be and be seen to be on top of my work at all times.” Jenny Baker-Hirst, Finance Director

Jenny Baker Hirst

“Think about the phrase ‘working flexibly’ in broad terms and discuss it with your employer. When working from home, I can pick my son up from school and give him tea. Then I make up my hours by working later that night.” Nawal Houghton In-house Legal Counsel

“I sometimes need to work longer than my contracted hours or switch a day to meet my work commitments. But that means when I need to switch my day off because of my children’s school or other commitments I am able to do that – the flexibility works both ways.” Jenny Baker Hirst, Finance Director

Kate Hardy

“Keep a positive mindset! Just because your hours are flexible doesn’t mean you do any less, in fact you are probably more productive because you have to stick to your hours and get your work done before you leave.” Kate Hardy, Administration Manager

“Get the right technology. I have a laptop, ipad, and a blackberry synced to my work emails so that I can stay in contact at all times. I work on my journeys to and from work catching up on emails and what’s happening in the office.“ Vicky Woods, Merchandising Director

Separate Work from Home

Home working has it’s special demands. Even more communications & organisation is called for …

“Planning the day and organising your work are key – especially if you are working from home only a couple of hours per day. Prioritise what is most important.“ Sheena Coster, People & Organisation Manager

Katja Andrews

“Establish a workday routine. Even if you work at your dining table – the next few hours are reserved for work and nothing else. Don’t put on a quick load of washing, there is time for that after work. Equally, once you have finished work, put your workstuff away and don’t constantly check your email unless urgent.” Katja Andrews, Executive Assistant

“If you work at home, make sure that your ‘work space’ is separated physically from your usual home or family environment.” Marguerite Storbo Commercial Lawyer

Prioritise your Work

One of the most common tips mentioned by our members was to ruthlessly prioritise your life at work – and at home!

“Always keep in perspective what is important and urgent at work so that you are really achieving the necessary stuff and letting the things which aren’t going to change the world go. ” Vicky Woods Merchandise Director

Vicky Woods

Vicky Woods

“By being part-time you are prioritising more efficiently and making more effective use of your time. There is no time for day dreaming!” Louise Hickman Procurement Manager

“Be selective in what you get involved in across your organisation or you risk getting spread too thinly, not delivering the most important things and not achieving your objectives.” Liz Ward Marketing Manager

Communicate with Your Manager and Colleagues

One of the most vital things you need to do when you’re working flexibly – keeping in touch when you’re at work and when you’re not…

Sheena Coster

“It’s important to have a very strong and trusting relationship with your manager so there are no doubts about what is expected of you.” Sheena Coster HR and Organisation Manager

“Communication, communication, communication – flexible hours will mean you miss parts of the day – make sure your colleagues keep you up to speed with what’s happening – and if not don’t be afraid to ask!” Kate Hardy Administration Manager

Liz Ward

“Regularly talk to your manager and colleagues about your objectives and the things that are important right now to ensure you are focusing on and delivering the right things and not yesterday’s priorities.“ Liz Ward Marketing Manager

“Make sure that colleagues know when you will be working and how to best contact you. Agree that if it ‘s desperately urgent they can contact you but if you can’t respond you will do as soon as you can.” Louise Hickman Procurement Manager

Get organised – at Home and at Work

Fewer hours at work and at home demands you become highly organised to fit everything in

Nawal Houghton

“I occasionally check my emails on the days I don’t work. I like to know what’s going on whilst I’m not there and then I don’t feel too ‘out of the loop’ when I go back into work.” Nawal Houghton In-house Legal Counsel

“Be uber-organised at home! I thought I was organised before but I now lay out my clothes for the next day the night before; I have a 2-weekly menu; I have a schedule accounting for my time so I know where I have to be and when each day so I can fit in children’s extracurricular activities, me-time and chores.” Jenny Allan, Treasurer

Jenny Allen

“Realise that ‘part-time’ hours can still take up most of your day. Plan for all the things you usually get done while everyone is out of the house.” Marguerite Storbo, Commercial Lawyer

“My flexible working pattern is a nine day fortnight and I really value that Friday off every second week. I plan my day making sure that I achieve essential family admin tasks but also plan time for me too (gym, hairdressers). “ Vicky Woods, Merchandising Director

“Make people aware of the limits of your time as a part-time professional and what can be realistically achieved in that time. Be ambitious but manage expectations carefully” Liz Ward Marketing Manager

Get the Right Childcare

Without the right childcare arrangements – both formal and informal – a rewarding working life can be challenging.

Louise Hickman

“Co-operate with a friend who is working too. You can become a ‘tag’ team with the kids, helping each other so you can both get your work done?” Louise Hickman Procurement Manager

“If you have children, have a back-up plan for school pick-up, in case the train is late or the traffic is bad (or you have to stay late to get something done).” Marguerite Storbo Commercial Lawyer

Marguerite Storbo

“Ensure you have the right kind of childcare set up, i.e. one that works for you, your children and your job. I decided an au pair was right for me. I could occasionally work late at work when my job required it. It also takes the stress out of having to try to juggle too many things.” Nawal Houghton In-house legal counsel



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