Death to the full-time default

At 2to3days we see hiring flexibly as a no-brainer. Technology has made it possible to work anywhere at any time so employers are free to design roles that truly work for their business and their people. And we have launched our essential Guide to Flexible Working to help you make it work for your business.

It’s 100 years since car manufacturer Henry Ford introduced the 40-hour working week. Despite Ford’s working week being created for another era, many employers still subscribe to the notion that this is the only way to operate.

Employers need to analyse what works for today’s workforce. Even the idea of work-life balance doesn’t fit – the phrase has been around since the 1970s, a hangover from a time when work and life had to be separate. Now technology allows us to blend the two and attempts to separate them are artificial. Work is part of life. Talented candidates want to integrate the two.

Work is an activity rather than a place. We no longer have to be in an office. Instead of measuring success by the time spent at work, savvy employers measure by output. 

The idea that flexibility should be a perk offered only to a chosen few is outdated. Expectations about work are changing and employers are racing to keep up. The biggest group in the workforce are now millennials, who are driven by a different set of values. 

According to KPMG’s 2017 report Meet the Millennials, millennials (or Generation Y) see flexibility as normal. “Generation X hoped for work-life balance, Generation Y simply demand it,” says the report. “If it’s possible for one, it’s possible for all and with so much happening outside of their working lives it’s expected as a norm on any job specification.”

At 2to3days we focus on matching talented women with open-minded employers. Many women want to work - they enjoy their careers and want to have their own independence. Some mothers choose to work to pay for luxuries and some because they need to meet day to day living costs, which hit a near six-year high in November 2017.

Meanwhile, men increasingly want to be actively involved in raising their children. Government is catching up with social change: the introduction of shared parental leave and legislation around the gender pay gap are two recent examples.  

Companies that hold onto the notion that jobs should be nine to five, five days a week, will lose the best talent to those who understand the world has changed. The future is now when it comes to flexible working.

Employers need talented, motivated employees who are happy and healthy. Those that understand this and offer true flexibility will excel. Too many employers pay lip service to flexibility – scratch beneath the surface and their employees are disillusioned and exhausted.

Instead of pressing the default button on full-time, it’s time to take a more sophisticated approach to job design. We urge employers to stop and work out how much time a job needs in terms of days or hours each week. Is it better to create two flexible jobs instead of one? 

There are as many ways to work flexibly as there are people. The term ‘part-time’ encompasses a very wide range of working patterns. 

At 2to3days we find the roles closer to full-time hours receive fewer applications. Usually, someone looking for a part-time schedule is likely to require at least a full day off a week. Squashing a full-time role into three or four days is not the answer.

Use the list below to create a job advert that will instantly appeal to our candidates. Referring to school hours, term-time working or offering August off shows immediately that you understand the challenges women face. Help them see their career future with you.

  • Shorter days: offering school hours working or flexibility in start or finish time can make all the difference.
  • Compressed hours: working full-time hours but across fewer days.
  • Term time only: some roles can be flexed to give our mothers the school holidays off. This is highly valued by candidates. 
  • Fixed hours each week: allowing a mother to spread a set number of hours (for example 20 hours) anytime across the week means they can manage their life and their career effectively. 
  • Job share: when you genuinely need a role to be done full-time then think about taking on a job share. Effective job shares offer two sets of skills for one role, require less management support (as they support each other) and present opportunities for holiday and sickness cover. The two mothers job sharing will be highly committed to making it work. 
  • Project work: the freelance model allows self-employed contractors to work with multiple clients, fulfilling specific needs over the short or long term. You get the benefit of keeping your costs under control but getting great quality of work and candidates get to control their working hours. 
  • Matching business cycle peaks and troughs: most businesses have busy times of year and seasonal troughs. Those peak times can suit team members perfectly. For example, accountants may find October to April requires more ‘hands on deck’ than in August.
  • Nine-day fortnight: an almost full-time contract that gives people space around the edges.
  • Staggered hours: it can work for some employees to stagger their hours – starting and finishing early or coming in later and staying longer. This can even extend your hours of operation.
  • Annualised hours: the employee works a certain number of hours over the year but has some flexibility about when they work. There can be ‘core hours’ which the employee regularly works each week, and they work the rest of their hours flexibly or when there is extra demand.
  • Working from home: how much time is wasted commuting? Is it strictly necessary for them to come to the office each day? Commuting can be exhausting and productivity-sapping. Consider what level of home-working a role can support. 
  • Resizing a full-time job: break down a full-time job into two part-time roles 

The vast choice means most roles can encompass some flexibility (or a combination of options). The huge number of talented candidates using 2to3days to advance their careers demonstrates the demand. 

Stop and think what your business really needs and don’t just default to full-time. Think it through, plan accordingly and the business and employee performance will benefit. Get your copy of our essential Guide to Flexible Working and make it work for your business.