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Case studies

Read our case studies from some of the staff at the School of Engineering who are enjoying working flexibly.

Gaynor James, School of Engineering HR Manager

Gaynor James has been employed as the HR Manager for the School of Engineering for seven years. Her busy role encompasses strategic support for HR issues within the School, development of initiatives to improve equality and diversity, implementation and administration of HR regulations and processes and managing a team of four HR staff. She now works a full 35 hour week but she does this using a flexible hours structure in conjunction with her line manager.

“Up until 2013, I was a full-time member of staff. At that point, I took twelve months of maternity leave, and that coming to an end coincided with my eldest son starting school,” Gaynor explained.

“It would have been very difficult for me to manage a young family and do the school run while working a standard day,” she said. She did not want to work part-time so she arranged a discussion with School managers about the options available to her if she wanted to work more flexibly.

“The School were very supportive and after discussing the best way forward with my line manager I opted to retain thirty-five hours a week on a flexible basis. I have the option to work shorter days on Mondays and Wednesdays, for example, and make up the hours in the evenings and at weekends. This way, I’m effectively still full time; the workload is the same and still gets done, and I’m at all the key meetings – they are all scheduled within core hours, which is another great initiative.

“The real benefit is that I get to play a really active part in family life, as well as feeling like part of a school community, and without losing out on anything at work. I have never felt like my career prospects have been in any way affected, and all the benefits that you would get working standard hours are still there.”

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Dr Michael Harbottle, Senior Lecturer and Director of Recruitment and Admissions

Dr Michael Harbottle is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering. His role encompasses teaching and research and he is also currently Head of Undergraduate Admissions for the School. Michael has an arrangement, with the support of the School, to work compressed hours. This means that he still meets his contracted full-time office hours but compresses them into a 4 day week rather than the usual 5 days.

“This works well for me”, Michael says, “as it enables both my wife and I to pursue our careers and to share child care responsibilities. I also find that working longer days allows me quiet time at the beginning and end of the day to plan my research and teaching without any interruptions.”

When he first became a father Michael approached the School with his proposed working arrangements and he found that there were no real barriers from the School or University, as long as he carried out his contracted duties.

When necessary and when it does not conflict with other duties, Michael also has the flexibility to move his day off so that he doesn’t miss an important meeting or event. He finds that as Head of Admissions he sometimes needs to work on Saturdays when prospective students and their parents visit the School, however, his compressed hours enable him to still spend at least two days with his family.

Michael also finds that this flexible way of working means that he is less stressed and has a better work/life balance while still having the benefit of enabling him to maintain the same level of work.