There are many reasons for choosing to work flexibly - for family or other caring reasons; for your health; to phase in your retirement by working fewer hours; because you want to find time for a hobby…
And there are many different types of flexible working to choose from. It’s a matter of finding the right one for you, your employer and your kind of work. Read on to find which type of flexible working might suit you best.
Part time jobs mean working fewer hours than full time - usually less than 30 hours per week over a certain number of days. For example, you might work three or four full days; or work a shorter day up to five days a week.
This involves working from home, or anywhere that isn’t the normal office or place of work. Depending on the job you do, your employer may be happy to let you work from home for some of the time – it can allow you to get your head down for specific projects. And some jobs are entirely home-based, for example it’s fairly common for sales jobs.
Job sharing is where two people share the responsibilities of one job and split the hours so they both work part time. It’s best suited to roles that have a fairly set routine every day - for instance, receptionist or data entry roles where it is easy to do the daily work with little handover.
Job sharing is more challenging in managerial or client facing roles, when it usually requires a day’s overlap to ensure continuity, and a really good partnership between the sharers. It tends to work best when two employees at the same company both want to work part time, and get together because they (and their employer) know they can make it work.
Job splits often work better than job shares when it comes to senior or managerial roles. They work by splitting the tasks and responsibilities of a full time job into two distinct part time jobs. Each person then independently carries out their share of the duties.
Under this agreement you don’t work during school holidays and will take leave as paid, unpaid or a combination of both. These jobs are mainly to be found in schools or universities and are gold dust to mums with school aged children!
FLEXITIME OR STAGGERED HOURS
You choose when you begin and end your working day, in agreement with your employer. This usually involves being in for ‘core hours’, for example between 10am and 4pm. This type of flexible working can suit parents who want to do the school run at one end of the day. It’s also ideal for those with disabilities and health issues who find it an attractive option to avoid rush hour travel. Staggered hours are a fairly easy option for many employers - if you’ve applied for a full-time job but want flexibility, try asking for this arrangement at interview stage.
You work an agreed number of days or hours over the course of the year. You might work less when things are quiet, then overtime when work is busier. Annualised hours suit seasonal jobs, or those with a lot of project work rather than a steady flow of tasks.
This means that you work full time hours, but over fewer days. It’s a great option for those who can cope with working long hours but want a free day to pursue leisure activities, creative projects or other commitments.
Freelancers look for and secure their own work, either on a per job or per day basis. They’re self-employed and invoice each client for the work they do for them. As a freelancer you can work part time or full time; you are your own boss and are usually able to set your working pattern. Freelancing is more common in certain industries, such as journalism, marketing, PR and IT.