The New World of Work: Flexible and Part-Time

On the 28th April, Cambridge Network held a breakfast networking event, with a presentation from Sara Hill of  Capability Jane.

It feels like every feminist article I read challenges the conventional idea that work or family is an either/or choice, promoting that you can have it all, balancing family and business success. Despite this I was still genuinely surprised when I was asked if I was looking for full or part-time work during my interview for Cambridge Network. The sad reality is that despite 34% of the experienced professional working population looking to work flexibly or part-time only 6% of the jobs are available or promoted in this way.

Sara shared her personal journey that led her to found Capability Jane in January 2007 with the mission to do the following:

  • Build the market place for organisations to access the exceptional executive talent seeking part-time / flexible working opportunities.
  • Help organisations access, attract and recruit more women into their businesses and implement flexible working practices.
  • Build a community and support network for professional women and men to maintain or return to a fulfilling career.

In a humorous and data filled presentation she made the case that businesses are harming themselves by sticking to traditional full time working hours. Baby boomers are looking to find a compromise between retirement and work. Millennials, raised with the opportunity and creativity of the internet, are seeking freedom and flexibility to work around other interests. Then there are the carers, dads, mums, entrepreneurs with their own businesses on the side and so many others. Ignoring the experience, diversity and value of these groups limits the potential for any business. Additionally, studies show that part timers present a better return on investment, with higher output in return for time and salary.

For me it was just as interesting to talk to my fellow attendees in the room. They ranged from individuals seeking advice on how to find flexible roles to employers wanting to attract more part time talent across all roles and salaries. There was also a live “case study” talk given by Craig from PA Consulting, explaining how approaching his employer to find a flexible working arrangement that allowed him to spend more time with his family has been of benefit to him and the company. It is clearly a topic that needs to be discussed more, beyond the popular culture articles and in board rooms and recruitment teams.

Much as I’m sure Dolly Parton and Sara would both be disappointed in me, at this point in time I have no plans to stop working a conventional 9-5. What I really got from the presentation was just how many different people with so much talent don’t have that luxury. The businesses who can adapt to this will evolve into the “new world” of the title, whilst others that fear change will miss out.

For more information please check out these webinars on the topic:

Written by Julia Wix


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