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How flex work works for Lauren

Lauren has a young family and prior to going on maternity leave for her second child she worked part-time, job sharing a senior communications role. Lauren shares lots of great tips and insights for working part-time and job share.

“I’m not sure if it comes with experience, or just knowing that I’m only in the office for three of the five days every week, but putting value on your time is really important.”

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Lauren and I have more than thirteen years’ experience in the public relations industry specialising in internal communications within large corporate organisations. I’m also a wife and a proud mother to two beautiful young boys – Henry and Edward.

What flexible work arrangements (part-time hours, job share, flexible hours, working remotely, compressed hours) have you experienced and how have these worked for you?

When I was looking to return to work after my first son was born I was successful in applying for an internal communications role within the not-for-profit sector. It was in a part-time capacity and it was also a job share arrangement. It was fantastic for both me (and my counterpart) to be able to perform at the level I had previously - before leaving the workforce, but still maintain hours that suited my new family setup and my priority of still spending precious time with my son.

What advice would you give a person negotiating part-time hours and/or a job share arrangement?

Prioritise - Have a strong sense of your priorities – both work and personal, so that you can make decisions that support your circumstances. If you’re ever in doubt about how your arrangement is working, revisit your priorities to help get you back on track.

Be disciplined – try to maintain your work and personal commitments so that one area of your life doesn’t over take the other/s. I think all of us could easily spend an extra couple of hours in the office each night to tick more things off our ‘to do’ lists but in the end, for me, the enjoyment I got from spending that time with my family was more important.

Seek support – Look at the people around you who play an active role in your life - your partner or a friend or family member. How can you join forces and create a team dynamic to help each of you achieve your goals? For me, this is my husband and because our circumstances have changed from year to year, based on our career goals and to build our family, it’s been a constant give/take to ensure we’re both feeling a sense of fulfilment and achievement in both our work and personal lives.

What advice would you give to a person starting out in a job share arrangement?

If you are in the fortunate position to have a say in who you job share with, I think it puts you (both) ahead to begin with. Like any great partnership, you need to complement one another and have a shared sense of purpose to give yourselves the best chance to succeed.

Granted, not all of us have this luxury so I think it’s about learning more about your counterpart, adapting where and when you can so that you perform the role to the best of your ability and, ultimately, contribute to the success of the company/project.

What belief or behaviour has been most helpful to you in successfully working part-time and/or job share? How?

Like I said earlier, for me discipline has been the most important value for me. It has helped me to contribute in a work setting and also have valued time with my family.

What have you become better at saying no to (invitations, meetings, time wasters)? What new work habits helped? Any other tips?

I’m not sure if it comes with experience, or just knowing that I’m only in the office for three of the five days every week, but putting value on your time is really important.

Be fair but strict with the time you allocate to different tasks or meetings – if it’s not a value-add, reconsider if it’s worth your precious time.

Working in a job share arrangement, I found a lot of value in the simple skill of handover notes to/from my counterpart. It sounds so basic but it really enabled us to deliver cohesive and strategic communications counsel to the organization without being blindsided by something the other person knew but you may not have been privy to.

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