Work Life Harmony and part time working
A year ago I took the plunge and reduced my working hours from 5 days a week full time to 4 days per week.
1 year on, I still get asked a lot of questions, which is good – many people are considering flexible or part time working and want to know how to make it work for them.
I wrote a blog article last May – Work Life Balance – is it really possible? and this seemed to resonate with many people over 100 people read the blog and 79 people commented – it seems as though many of us are trying to find that sometimes elusive balance. It’s also worth noting that there were about the same number of comments from men and women – work life balance doesn’t seem to be gender specific!
How this worked out for me
So what was hard for me and what was easy?
For me, the hard part was truly switching off on the non working day. It took me several months to adjust to switching off, but once I’d actually adjusted, I found that my energy levels increased, as I was truly relaxing at a weekend, and not just recovering from the week before. Capgemini was very supportive – there was no expectation that I would be available for calls on my non working day, and most of my colleagues were very supportive. I think our Active Inclusion initiative, which includes all groups of employees, not just women, has really helped.
One of the easier parts was working on projects or bids very intensively and for a specific period of time. For example, during last Autumn, I worked on a major bid, which was a must win for Capgemini. As expected, it was intense. It was great to be able to make a difference, and contribute. The balance was to work very long and intensive days from Monday to Thursday, and to keep the non working day, unless anything very urgent needed action. The exception of course being any client meetings on that day, when I would attend them. I would like to think I was more productive on the working days because I was less tired than if I’d worked a full week.
What’s in it for Capgemini?
The business needs to succeed, and in order to do that, we need our people to be motivated. We want to Recruit, Retain and Develop our people, so that we have – and keep – the very best talent.
What’s more, we live in a very demanding and fast changing world. The notion of a job for life is long gone, we have the gig economy and the view that we will have a number of part time roles, rather than one full time role, is becoming the norm. It’s interesting to note that no less than 30% of the roles on client projects in Apps UK are part time. Things are shifting.
Factors to think through if you considering part time working
- Firstly, think about what you really want. It’s well worth taking the time to think it through. For example, do you want to work fewer days per week, or do you want something else, e.g. more days vacation, maybe a one off long holiday? The Work Life Harmony guide is very good – it talks about Informal Local arrangements, and there are plenty of options, as well as the more Formal Arrangements. The guide is at -insert link to Talent page-
- If you want to work part time, really think about whether you want to be on call on your non working day. Ultimately it’s your decision, not Capgemini’s. For me, it took me some time to think this through, so for a couple of years, I bought 10 days’ extra holiday, and really valued it. Eventually, I worked out that I did not need to be contactable on my non working days. I feel pretty strongly that I’m less productive, and frankly less use to anyone, least of all myself, if I’m feeling tired and strung out. For me, this was the turning point for deciding to reduce my working hours.
- Talk to your manager. To be honest, I was very apprehensive about this, as I wasn’t sure how my request would be viewed. Would I be seen as uncommitted? Would I be seen as lacking in ambition? In reality, my manager was very understanding and supportive, so the conversation was lot easier than I’d thought. We talked about the role, I delegated some of the peripheral tasks. The point that was important to my manager was that I should make myself available for workshops or meetings on a Friday if needed. This was absolutely fine, and I worked 5 Fridays last year participating in workshops, client and partner meetings. Usually, there are one or two aspects that are important to managers, and if we discuss them, there is usually a compromise that works for all.
Part time working is working well for me – I feel as though I have more energy, and I’m enjoying work more. It isn’t for everyone, though. However, for anyone looking for a different way of working, there are plenty of options, from buying holiday, to flexible working, that it’s worth looking into all the options and seeing where you go from there.