I undertook a highly unscientific piece of ‘research’ recently. I took a look through a big old list of jobs on LinkedIn. Some of these were jobs that LinkedIn thought I might be interested in based on my profile, so there will have been a bias towards work in HR or Higher Education. I also took a look at jobs in my local area on popular job boards.
Something very clear stood out. There were lots of references to hybrid and remote work (good). But there were very few (if any) part time opportunities in professional roles. Not so good.
We have, for the most part, realised over the last couple of years that it is entirely possible for knowledge workers to work from somewhere other than an office. We have seen the myths and misconceptions about work and place exposed for what they are, and a significant amount of organisations have adopted hybrid working approaches as a result.
So why aren’t we similarly recognising that work doesn’t need to be full time?
Although the four day week is making some progress (something which I will confess I have my concerns about) we are still not seeing enough progress around part time work. For years, part time work has been seen as career death, leading to pay and progression stagnation. A particular form of flexibility stigma, if you aren’t putting your nose to the grindstone for 37+ hours a week, you can’t possibly be [insert relevant bias of your choice]. It doesn’t need to be this way.
Where is all the part time work? And why is part time work so often only of the low paid variety? I can find part time work in retail, in hospitality, or in caring professions, but I can barely identify any in my own profession should I be looking for a new gig.
This problem is far from new. But just like we didn’t have to all traipse to the office five days a week like most of us did pre-pandemic, why can’t we recognise that you can do awesome work in two, three, or four days a week?
If we want better working lives and positive change for the future, we cannot focus only on meeting the demand for remote work. We cannot only separate the idea of work and place. We have to also separate the idea of work from 37 hours a week. HR professionals in particular have to challenge every hiring manager who opts for default full time recruitment. Otherwise we are missing out on crucial talent and denying opportunities to those who cannot or do not wish to work on a full time basis.
We are experiencing a remote work revolution. The hybrid work era has begun. Maybe it’s now time to fight for the part time work era too.