This week is Flexible Working Week in the UK: a week that aims to raise awareness about the benefits of flexible working and empower the UK workforce to be more flexible.
To celebrate, we have a blog series around flexible working, where we will be speaking to several members of staff from all around the University to find out all about the advantages and challenges of flexible working at NU.
The first blog in this series is with FMS EDI’s very own Ann Armstrong, who talks about her experiences of working part time in her role.
What role do you work part time in?
I’m the EDI Officer for the Faculty of Medical Sciences. I’ve been in post for 18 months so far. In my role, I support the Director of EDI (Candy Rowe) in her work. I’m working to embed EDI into everything that the Faculty does and ensure that the Faculty is a good place for everyone to work and study, regardless of their background or protected characteristic.
How many hours do you work and on what schedule?
I work 2.5 days a week, which are Tuesday, Wednesday morning and Thursday. It’s been important for me to work to a regular schedule as I look after my young daughter and I am the primary carer for my elderly mother, so it’s really important for both of them to know that I’ll be there.
What would you identify as your biggest success while working part time?
I’m really proud of the work I put in to the completion and submission of the Faculty’s first silver Athena SWAN application. As there was a lot of work to do on it, I chose to work some extra hours to help out. However, there was never any demand on my time. I was able to work the extra hours that I chose very flexibly, and I felt in control of when I worked and for how long. My line managers also made sure I always knew just how much my time was truly appreciated.
What advantages or opportunities has working part time brought you?
Working part time has allowed me to have a better work life balance. As a mum to a daughter it’s been really nice to be able to show her that as a woman you are still able to have a successful career as well as having time to be at home with her.
What challenges did you face while working part time?
The main challenge of working part time is that work doesn’t stop when I’m not here. There’s always things going on all the time, and that can sometimes leave you feeling as though you’re missing out on things when you’re not here. To address this, I have a formal catchup with the rest of the EDI team on the first day I’m back every week. This gives me a much greater awareness of what’s going on and allows me to do my job better.
Where did you find support while working part time?
My line managers have both been really supportive, flexible and understanding. They always encourage me to take any training opportunities I get. In particular, Katharine Rogers, the Director of Faculty Operations is really good at helping with career development and she regularly sends out opportunities for secondments, which makes me feel really encouraged to develop and gain skills.
What would you do differently if you had your time again?
If I had my time again I would definitely still choose to be part time. I don’t regret it at all and really value the chance it’s given me to spend time with my daughter. However, I would tell myself not to feel guilty about it. At the beginning, I felt like by only being there half the time I wasn’t pulling my weight, even though I knew I was. So if I had my time again, I would tell myself to be confident in my decision and trust that I’m doing a good job.
What single piece of advice would you give to others who want to/are considering working part time?
If it suits your lifestyle, you should go for it! You will be supported in your choice. Even though it can be challenging at times, the enormous benefits it’s given me in my family life definitely outweigh the difficulties. I would also recommend that you’re prepared to make the most of all opportunities that you’re offered and try to have a flexible, open outlook.
Thank you so much to Ann for speaking to us, and we hope she’s inspired you to request flexible working if you feel it’s something that will benefit you!
Over the next few weeks there will be more blogs from others who are working flexibly at the moment.
Or, if you currently work part time at NU, for whatever reason, and would be interested in taking part in the series, we want to hear from you! To take part, please get in contact with Georgia Spencer.