Embracing part-time working

Blog post by Oyinkan Onile-Ere

Monday 11 September 2017

MoJ Head of Campaigns, Oyinkan Onile-Er shares her thoughts on the recent GCS network event for those working part time hours.

Oyinkan Onile-Ere

“One size doesn’t fit all.”

So said Emily Tofield (Director of Communications & Information Services at the Ministry of Justice), one of the panellists at the recent Government Communications Service part-time network event. The event brought interested GCS colleagues together to discuss the issues and myths surrounding part-time and flexible working.

As a part-time worker – I start late and leave early five days a week to accommodate childcare commitments – I was encouraged to hear GCS senior leaders like Emily and Selvin Brown, (Director of Engagement & Policy, Health & Safety Executive) explain how they support part-time working. GCS needs the very best people from across the board, we need to be flexible about making things work for them. If we truly want the benefit of increased diversity of people and thinking in the GCS, there is an acknowledgement that we can’t expect one way of working to suit everyone.

There were different models of part-time working represented at the event, Clare Jennings (Deputy Director at Defra) explained how job-sharing allows her to retain challenge in her job while better balancing family demands. As a bonus Clare gains a professional partner to share and develop ideas with and the department gains ‘fresh legs’ towards the end of a busy week. Surely a win, win situation for everyone.

It was clear from the discussion in the room that while there are many communications professionals across GCS already working part-time, there are  colleagues who still have questions and myths to challenge including: is part time only available for carers and primarily women? Are those in press/media offices or high profile roles excluded?

Alongside shared stories of teams where part-time working is being supported and encouraged, there were some stories suggesting the need for more consistency in attitudes towards part-time working. Participants discussed that managers may find it useful to get more support around how to set objectives for part-time staff and help to make workloads manageable. There was a general consensus that talking openly about the benefits of embracing part-time working is important as it will lead to better understanding all round and also sharing of best practice.

The new network has been created to promote the value of part-time working and provide practical advice. As set out in the GCS Diversity & Inclusion Strategy, we want everyone working part-time to feel that GCS supports them and for even more managers to understand the benefits. The views shared at the event will help focus the activities of the new network over the coming period.

If you would like to join the network please get in touch email sara.vogt@justice.gsi.gov.uk (include part-time network in the subject header). The network is open to those interested in the issue or considering working part-time as well as those already doing so.

All are welcome.

Oyinkan Onile-Ere
Head of Campaigns, Ministry of Justice