Charlotte Armitage: Working part-time should not mean the end to achievement

This week saw celebrations up and down the country in support of International Women’s Day; A positive, uplifting event to champion women across the country in all areas of life.

Power-Point Part-timers who can really have it all

The working world for women has changed and evolved dramatically over the last 20 years to accommodate the needs of its employees. Thankfully these days, women really can have it all…as long as they have the support of a forward-thinking employer.

The Power Part Time list compiled by Timewise was published last week and included inspirational women such as Angela Chan, head of creative diversity at Channel 4 and Anna Cook, customer service director at Sky. This list, which also included men who work reduced hours, is testament to how employment has changed over the years and evidences that people don’t need to be chained to their desks, working an 80-hour week, in order to make a valuable contribution.

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One of the constant battles for the working population is that between caregiving responsi-bilities and the requirements of their job. Removing the guilt for employees for being working parents allows them to expend more of their mental energy on their work rather than on worrying about not being there to pick their children up from school.

It is without doubt that the terms ‘part-time’ and ‘flexible working’ still have negative connotations for too many employers. With many women feeling they have no option but to leave the corporate world because of the lack of flexible working options, the Power Part Time list is a great opportunity to showcase those organisa-tions who have benefited from embracing a positive attitude to flexible working conditions.

There are many reasons why being open-minded and reasonable about these options can benefit employers, from staff being more productive and creative in home environment to avoiding unnecessary distractions and office politics.

Most people don’t want to work from home every day because it can be very isolating but having the option to work remotely when required makes it more feasible for people to juggle both a career and family commitments.

Employees who have flexible working also take less sick leave, and with a cost to the economy of £18bn it could be a pragmatic move from employers to look at their flexible working options.

Of course, employers want value for money from their staff, but I firmly believe that being flexible with your team is an important factor in creating a happy and productive working environment. At YAFTA all of our office staff have the option to work remotely and most of them work hours that suit them as long as these hours meet the needs of the business. This level of flexibility has led to a contented workforce.

We are incredibly lucky in this generation to have access to the technology that we do which enables us to stay in touch wherever we are in the world, which can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse, but without these advances in technology, people could not have the freedom of what they do in their careers.

Certainly, as a business woman who has built two successful businesses with a newborn baby under her arm, I really value what technology and flexible working has enabled me to do. I was able to build and grow YAFTA & YAFTA Talent Agency whilst still being there to look after my child.

There’s a lot to celebrate this International Women’s Day, but it’s also a reminder of how much more there is to do to ensure as a society we create working conditions that support, inspire and encourage women to fulfil their career potential, and that working part-time doesn’t mean the end of ambition and achievement.