The Government Communication Service is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workforce where people feel valued in an environment that supports flexible and part-time working.
Working part-time can bring numerous benefits both to the individual and their organisation. Working in a supportive environment that considers your personal and work life should not be underestimated.
On this page:
- Benefits of being part-time or job-share
- Benefits of employing a part-time worker or job-share
- Recruitment: tips for candidates and managers
- Managing a part-time worker or job-share
- Case studies
Benefits of being part-time or job-share
Working reduced hours can help:
- to increase physical and mental health, increase happiness and boost productivity
- to balance personal commitments with maintaining work commitments
- if you are looking for continued career progression while working less than full-time hours
Benefits of employing a part-time worker or job-share
Gain experience of managing people with diverse working patterns that can lead to more creative ways of working together:
- two heads can be better than one – job share partners may have complementary knowledge and skills which may have a positive impact on the way they approach problem-solving compared to equivalent single person (full-time equivalent)
- working part-time can improve work/life balance and lead to happier, more motivated and therefore more productive staff
- increased engagement – a part-time employee is likely to be engaged if they are doing a job they enjoy and feel challenged in, while working the hours they need to for their personal life.
- Increased engagement also has an impact on reducing staff turnover
- Job sharers may have an advantage in terms of business continuity as they can cover for each other with full understanding of role’s responsibilities and accountabilities by agreement if needed
For more in-depth advice on working part-time, read the GCS Tips and techniques for part-time working in communications.
Tips for candidates:
- carefully read the job advert and talk to the recruiting manager before you apply
- don’t be afraid to sell the benefits of part-time working with evidence of how you have made it work
- use past feedback to support your case for how you deliver in your time
- make sure the job would be suitable for your needs, for example will the role involve a lot of travel? Talk to the recruiter about the scope of the role
- you can apply for a role that is advertised as a full-time role and then explore and negotiate the part-time possibilities, including job-share if there’s a genuine need for 5-day-a-week cover
Tips for recruiting managers:
- consider whether the role could be done part-time
- if there is a genuine need for 5-days-a-week cover, consider a job share
- think about where you advertise the job and make sure you make it clear that it’s part-time or open to part-time working
- encourage applicants to be honest and upfront about what hours they are able to do or can fit into their schedule
Managing a part-time worker or job share
Tips for the employee:
- discuss with your line manager and team from the outset what your working pattern is and how you envisage managing your workload;
- agree with your line manager how work is managed on your non-working days
- don’t apologise for working part-time and protect your non-working days
- mark your non-working days clearly in your calendar and make sure your out of office and email signature set out your working pattern;
- talk to your line manager about learning & development opportunities. Make sure you allocate time for your development
- if you are job sharing, an agreement template can be useful to help you and your manager be clear about ways of working
Tips for the manager:
- agree ways of working and expectations from the outset
- set objectives that take into account their part-time working pattern
- respect their non-working days and encourage others to do the same – they aren’t getting paid to work that day
- part-time workers are less likely to have a PDP or do CPD than full-time workers so encourage time for learning and development
- a Job Share Agreement Template can be useful to help you and the job share partnership be clear on ways of working
Case Study: Catherine Worswick, Director of Strategy and Planning, Youth Justice Board
What made you consider working part-time?
When I returned to work after my second maternity leave, I knew that I wanted to continue to work and develop my career. However, I also wanted to spend more time with my family whilst having the time to dedicate to being a charity trustee and to complete my MSc. I therefore took the decision to work part-time for a year.
What are the positives of working part-time?
Part-time working enabled me to spend valuable time with my children, whilst retaining a career in communications that I’d worked hard to develop. For my employer, it allowed them to retain experience, and their agreement to support me working flexibly encouraged loyalty and commitment to the organisation. The hours away from the office are valuable – they increase resilience and provide a new perspective.
Which aspects of working part-time do you find the most challenging?
Making the adjustment from full- to part-time and accepting what is and isn’t doable in a week is challenging. I learnt this is about managing expectations and being disciplined, but this requires investment. It can feel frustrating to miss key meetings on days you are not in, and there is no doubt you are less visible and are restricted in the roles you can consider, although I am committed to working to change this.
Do you have any tips to share about flexible working or returning to work after a break?
Talk to others, ideally in similar roles, about what has and hasn’t worked for them to get an idea of what is possible and how different people have achieved this. Be realistic with yourself and your employer, and set clear expectations with your team. Consider a job share as a method of enabling access to the most challenging roles. I have undertaken research for the GCS on job sharing and the evidence is compelling about its positive impact on career development.
What advice would you give to managers of part-time workers?
Make sure that you set realistic objectives for the hours worked. Think about scheduling key meetings on days which are best for part-time workers. Do not assume that part-time workers are less committed to their jobs or career because they are not always visible – my experience is that part-time workers can be more focused and have a valuable perspective from the time spent out of the office. Try not to see part-time working as an inconvenience – focus on the productive, committed, resilient worker you will have, and the skills they can develop when out of the office and play to that.