I am a firm believer in flexible working. Individuals contribute to businesses in very different ways and by trusting your employees with flexible working models you can attract and retain employees who may otherwise be benefiting another business with their skills and experience.
In my experience if a person is a valuable ‘full time’ employee that same person will be a valuable part-time employee. It is much more to do with the person than the working pattern. Of course, it is essential that both parties understand what the other expects and the deal is thought through and clear from the start. This ensures that neither side feels short changed by the arrangement.
After 10 years of working a range of patterns I know that flexible working is not an easy option. If you want to work part-time, I would encourage you to be realistic about what you are willing to commit to your career and how important your career is. I see no justifiable reason for flexible working impairing prospects. Throughout my career I have regularly worked on weekends and during my years working part-time was always available on my ‘off’ day. I always had childcare available to me on my ‘off’ day and was willing to swap days to accommodate my clients’ needs. This was my choice and a compromise, but one I was willing to make in order to see my children during the week.
The rapid development of technology has, undoubtedly, facilitated remote working. From the employee perspective, individuals still need to develop strong relationships in order to succeed in their chosen field. If you are not physically present, it is important to make your contribution visible to the business in order to develop in your chosen career.
However, this does not necessarily mean physical presence in the workplace. An individual’s results should be the focus of any prudent business decision and ensuring that you share your results and successes with people is important for your career. It is often forgotten that the senior people within businesses are exceptionally busy so meaningful, brief updates relating to their business or area of responsibility can be very helpful to them.
I have no doubt that I would not be a partner at Linklaters if the firm had not supported my requests for part-time working weeks. The firm’s support of me was rewarded by my loyalty to it and my hard work. Even now I know I perform at a higher level when I manage to strike a balance between working time and personal down time – I am more creative, focused and capable. In an increasingly competitive environment to attract and retain talent, those businesses who are willing to adapt to the changing requirements of the workforce will undoubtedly have an advantage over their less flexible competitors.
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