Last week Timewise’s 2014 Power Part Time List was published. It proves, it says, that “part time working is possible at senior levels, in all types of business”. Included in this year’s list from my industry (the whole list changes annually) are the Marketing Director at Diageo responsible for Smirnoff, the Senior Director for Marketing and Insights for Google EMEA, the Group MD of Hotwire PR, PepsiCo UK’s Head of Marketing, the CEO of VCCPme and Webber Shandwick’s CEO of Corporate, Financial & Public Affairs. All poorly committed, under achieving burdens on their employers, clearly :)
Working any less than five full days a week is still unthinkable for many employers in the marketing industry, which is crazy. Agencies in particular have always been long-hours, high intensity places to work and I’ve seen no end of people burn out and walk away from the industry. Factor in long commutes, children, dependent elderly parents or simply the desire not to give your life over completely to your employer and you can see why so many people opt out in the absence of a more flexible solution.
Surely employees with a better work/life balance will work more efficiently and be generally nicer people to be around because they’re less stressed and more fulfilled? I know it works – for the final two years I was working in an agency I switched to a flexible 4 days a week and it was real game changer for me. For the first time in years I actually had a decent work/life balance. As a freelance, I aim to work 4.5 days a week on average, but with much less commuting it still works out at the same amount of time devoted to ‘work’. And once you’ve experienced a properly balanced life, there’s no going back.
Legally, all employers are obliged to consider requests for flexible schedules in ‘a reasonable manner’ but that doesn’t apply to recruitment. This FT article suggests that many recruiters in particular still have a ‘full timers only need apply’ approach. Perhaps we need to stop thinking about ‘full time’ and ‘part time’ (which can suggest less-than-total-commitment) and instead use the (4 days a week) new Chief Strategy Officer of TBWALondon Amelia Torode’s ‘Smart Time’.
As more and more of us demand a working life that works for us (or walk away), the marketing industry in particular is going to have to embrace the #PowerPartTimers.