Saying Goodbye to 9 to 5… Twelve Months On

This last year has been tough. That’s both a given and an understatement, to say the least. On a human level the losses have been devastating and far-reaching.  From a business perspective, the landscape as we knew it has changed beyond recognition.

Almost overnight we had to adapt our attitudes to how, when, and where we worked.  And that was if we were able to carry on at all.

The furloughing of staff was a temporary fix to get us all through, but now, as the Government confirms the payment contribution will end in September, the BBC has reported that 7.8million part-time workers (mostly women) face losing their jobs completely when the scheme ends.

Why? Because it seems that in times of crisis ‘business’ reverts to the tried and tested, and that means full-time hours, bums on seats where staff can be seen, and flexi-time being seen as the ultimate perk. But what about those who can’t – or choose not to – revert to the 9 to 5?

Social Enterprise, Timewise, reports that those in part-time roles have indeed been disproportionately impacted by furlough and job losses, and that now less than 10% of all job vacancies in the UK cite part-time opportunities.

But that means we’re losing access to some brilliant people. Brilliant people who have skills, knowledge and passion to share, but who have their own reasons for not working full-time hours. They may be working around childcare, looking after a poorly relative, or simply want more free time than a full-time role brings.  Ultimately, it’s their prerogative. What is more than evident though, is that no matter the reason, those who don’t fit with our traditional perception of what being employed means are being penalised.  And absolutely unfairly so.

Why are your skills not as valued if you work less than 37.5hours a week?  Should you receive half the benefits and less loyalty from your employer because you only work half the hours?  We believe strongly here at Zen that the term ‘part-time’ itself is out-dated, and that organisations (both large and small) need to re-evaluate the ways in which they take on staff, and how they look after them moving forwards. 

We’re a small (but perfectly formed) team of seven, and less than half of us work ‘full time’ hours – with the majority working ‘non-full time’ hours.  This isn’t ‘part-time’ – it’s time that works best for each individual, whether that’s a 20 hour week, 30 hour week or somewhere in between. 

And, this is all part of our ethos of offering every member of our team absolute flexibility when it comes to their working week. 

It’s now officially been a year since we took the bold decision to abolish the traditional ‘9-5’ – and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  Every individual member of the team has the autonomy to work when (and where) they wish, to plan their working week around other commitments, and to deliver their promises to clients in their own way.  And collectively we’ve gone from strength-to-strength.   

Knowing when we peak and flow creatively, being encouraged to work when we are at our absolute best, and having the freedom to enjoy a total ‘life-work’ balance results in a win-win for everyone.  When you promote autonomy, encourage individuals to make choices that benefit all, and place family commitments on a par with (if not higher than) what’s going on in the boardroom, the results are incredible.  Our clients receive the very best care and attention, and we as individuals are empowered to be the very best version of ourselves.

This last year and a half has been an horrendous time for all of us for many reasons, but one true positive we can take away from it is that it’s changed how we as a business operate forever.  And we believe that it’s about time other businesses followed suit.  Timewise has recently shared recommendations with the UK Government to ask that businesses offer flexible working from day one, that they incentivise flexible working through job-creation, and that they provide better employment support for those seeking flexible opportunities.  And we back these recommendations wholeheartedly.

As Doug Conant, former CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, said: “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” And we’re proud to be doing just that.

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