Flexible Working Case Studies

The University recognises that flexible working opportunities can be of benefit to the individual and the organisation. 

Flexible working can include: home working, job sharing, term-time working, staggered hours and annualised hours, amongst others and can be arranged on an informal or formal basis.

The following case studies are illustrative of the different ways that current University colleagues make use of the Flexible Working Policy.

Case Study 1: Terri Hume, Ethics and Research Student Administrator in the College of Social Sciences.

Here, Terri provides some information and advice about her flexible working arrangement…

1. What is your current work pattern?

10am – 3.30pm Monday, Tuesday, (not in on Wednesday), 10am – 3.30pm Thursday and 10am – 3.00pm Friday.  This adds up to a 0.5 FTE (17.5 hours)

2. What are your reasons for working flexibly?  

Originally started job-sharing 10 years ago when my husband was unwell, it reduced my working stress and gave me breathing space to care for him.

Later, (divorced), my own disability causes fatigue; a reduced working day with a day off in the middle allows me recovery time.

3. Can you explain the benefits of working flexibly and the impact on your work-life balance?

My balance has changed with my job changing, originally it was a two and half-day pattern as a job share.  

Later, changed to present spread out weekly pattern in a different job role.  This allows me to be present for most of the working day and thus in contact with those I work with while still accommodating my need for a rest period during the week.

It also allows me to make appointments as often as possible for my ‘day off’ or at least outwith my working hours. Providing support for aging family members and coping with ordinary household tasks can be more easily scheduled when not overtaxed with a full working week.

4. What advice would you gice to somebody who would like to request a more flexible working pattern?

Consider your reasons, in my case, family commitments and health dictated my decision to stop working full time. Travelling outwith normal rush hour can also be beneficial; some are early birds and can cheerfully arrive and leave early. I’m the opposite; don’t be persuaded into a pattern that doesn’t suit you personally. Remember that reduced hours means reduced salary, this can be critical; be sure that you can afford the change in circumstances.


Case Study 2: Alison Wallace, Head of Institute Administration Research, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflamation

Here, Alison provides some information and advice about her flexible working arrangement...

1. What is your current working pattern?

I currently work 24 hours over 4 days, Tuesday and Thursdays, 9-4 and Wednesday and Fridays, 9 – 2.30

2. What are your reasons for working flexibly?

I have two children at primary school with no family nearby to help collect from school.

3. Can you explain the benefits of working flexibly and the impact on your work-life balance?

Benefits are being able to collect my children while allowing me to continue to work.

4. What advice would you give to somebody who would like to request a more flexible working pattern?

It needs to work for both the employee and the employer or you end up feeling under pressure from both sides. Be realistic about the number of hours you can work, circumstances change and what suits you now may not suit in a few years time.


Case Study 3: Peter Grassl, Senior Lecturer, College of Science and Engineering

Here, Peter provides some information and advice about his flexible working arrangement...

1. What are your reasons for working flexibly?

Following the birth of our first daughter, my partner and I wanted to spend at least 4 days a week with our child and send her to nursery only three days a week. My partner, who also works at the University, was concerned that if she only worked 3 days a week, it would be very difficult for her to maintain her research career. I previously worked in Sweden where children-related part-time working is very normal for both men and women. Therefore, we decided that the best solution would be for us to each work 4 days a week to allow us to spend a day with our daughter but also to spend enough time at work to be able to continue our research careers. Since the birth of our 2nd daughter, we have continued with this arrangement.

2. Can you explain the benefits of working flexibly and the impact on your work-life balance?

Our children get to spend a day during the week with each of their parents separately. For all of us, this has resulted in a stronger bond between us, as parents, and our children, and it means that both parents fully appreciate the challenges and rewards of parenthood. Practically, it gives us more flexibility with covering for illnesses and doctor appointments etc. It’s also nice to be able to go to work one day a week knowing that our children are being looked after by family. Working 0.8FTE obviously does have an effect on my productivity, but not so substantially that I can’t keep my research afloat, and it allows me to spend much valued time with my children while they are little. Knowing that I only get paid for four days/week, I do not attempt to compensate for my day off by working in the evenings or at weekends any more than I would have done before I had children.

3. What advice would you give to somebody who would like to request a more flexible working pattern?

Explain to your line manager the advantages of having an employee with a healthy work-life balance, but also be prepared to be flexible about which day(s) you take off to minimise the impact it has on your colleagues. Make clear to yourself why you want to go part time and do not expect that you can achieve the same as when working full time.


Case Study 4: Kirstie Adams, Equality And Diversity Manager, Equality and Diversity Unit

Here, Kirstie provides some information and advice about her flexible working arrangement...

1. What is your current working pattern?

I work 4 days over 5 days with flexible hours.

2. What are your reasons for working flexibly?

 I work flexibly for childcare reasons. My working pattern allows me to take my daughter to school every day and collect her from school on average 3 times a week.

3. Can you explain the benefits of working flexibly and the impact on your work-life balance?

My working pattern helps me manage work and childcare. I value the ability to control my time and the trust that my manager has shown me to do so. 

The ability to work flexibly allows me to take my daughter to school every day and collect her on average three days a week. The ability to work flexibly has meant that I do not need to rely on private childcare. Because I live locally and my daughter attends a local school, I have very little travel time between work, home and school which helps me lengthen my working day even when it is not a full day. 

I first tried out a 4 days over 5 days working pattern while working for a previous employer when my daughter started school. Before then, I worked 4 full days with one full day off. This suited my childcare arrangements when my daughter was in nursery. I used to find that after my non-working day I had so many emails to catch up on that it was difficult to get any work done. I now prefer working 4 days over 5 days because I find it easier to manage the flow of work and responsibilities as a manager. In my former post I was also able to work from home twice a week. Cutting out commuting time allowed me to do more work and still collect my daughter from school at a reasonable hour.

With my current working pattern there may be times when I need to make childcare arrangements to attend a particular meeting in the University. There is a balance to be struck to get the work done within a shorter working week, but this is manageable and having worked part-time for nine years, I no longer notice the impact.

The downsides of working part-time (financial, not always being present) are balanced by the reduced childcare costs and the benefit of being able to be more involved in my daughter’s life before and after school.

4. What advice would you give to somebody who would like to request a more flexible working pattern? 

Flexible working can come in a variety of forms. Think carefully about what your needs are around work and outside factors. If possible, explore a trial period for your flexible working conditions.