Don’t be afraid of working part-time – it’s a real win-win
Laurie Eggleston is a senior manager at Grant Thornton. When his son was born in 2016, he decided to take shared parental leave. And on his return, he requested a permanent switch to a part time role. Here, he explains why he made his decision and how he and his line managers make sure it doesn’t hold his career back.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to go part-time, particularly as a dad. I think there’s still a fear or a perception that working part-time, or taking time off for your kids, means you have to hit the pause button on your career or even take a step back. Men taking shared parental leave or working flexibly thankfully seems to be becoming more common now, but at the time I had to get used to being the only dad in the playgroups!
“However, I also didn’t think it was fair to just expect my wife to shoulder the burden and impact her own career. And as my family life was quite chaotic growing up, it was important to me to build a stable foundation in life for my son and any future kids we have.”
Support from the rest of the team makes all the difference
Laurie credits his line managers with supporting his decision, and his colleagues for helping things run smoothly.
“Working part time can be challenging, but I’m lucky to have a great team of colleagues who can stand in for me with any urgent requests. And I certainly don’t feel I’ve been overlooked for any new projects or opportunities. My line managers over the last few years have been 100% supportive, which has helped me to not worry about whether working part-time would damage my career.”
So what advice would Laurie give to others who might be wondering about making a similar decision? Here are his top three recommendations for succeeding in a part-time role.
- Keep pushing yourself to develop and improve
“I’ve taken responsibility for making sure my career development hasn’t suffered as a result of being part time. I keep pushing myself to develop, improve my skills and progress. I always like to look for the next thing we could be doing or what opportunities there are out there to grow – both at work and at home.”
- Be open about your role, and organised in your approach
“I’ve found I need to be incredibly organised and committed to dealing with the urgent things first. Ruthless prioritising is really important when you’re only working part of the week.
“I’m also deliberately up-front with clients about not being available on Fridays. That means everyone knows what to expect and no one is waiting around to hear back from me. Most of my client contacts are HR managers, so they tend to be keen to learn about our flexible working practices, and I enjoy passing on my experiences.”.
- Don’t be afraid to take the next step
“I was recently promoted to Senior Manager, having spent all my time in my manager’s role working part-time or on shared parental leave. It felt so rewarding to achieve this promotion, and it shows that it’s possible to be part-time and more senior.
“So don’t feel you have to limit your ambitions because you’re not working five days a week – if you’ve made a success of your part-time role, you can make a success of a more senior one.”
So overall, how does Laurie feel about working part-time?
“I feel so fortunate that I have been able to progress my career while spending invaluable time with my son. It really is a win-win situation. I hope my story will show other dads that taking shared parental leave, or working part-time, doesn’t mean you have to fall behind in your career.
“My wife and I recently found out that we are expecting not one, but two more babies – twins! So once more I find myself hugely grateful that I am able to work flexibly for a supportive employer. I’m certainly going to need it in the coming months.”
This article has been written in association with Grant Thornton.