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5 Minute GAP - Lauren and Sonia discuss part time working

 Lots of organisations across the UK have been trialling four day weeks recently, where staff get 100% of their pay for working 80% of their contracted hours. Global Action Plan has always supported staff to work part time where it works for them, and while we're excitedly watching to see how the 4 day week trial pans out for everyone and thinking about what would work for us, People and HR Manager Lauren and Project Officer Sonia talk about how part time working has worked for them, and what it's like having a different work/life balance.



"We Share Freely". The change we want to see in the world is bigger than we are. So, we're sharing our knowledge, resources and ideas to help more people and organisations take steps forward towards our vision of a green and thriving planet, where everyone can enjoy happy and healthy lives within the Earth's limits.


As part of this, we're launching our new "5 Minute GAP" series, a collection of five minute conversations that will share how we work and what we're working on. We'll talk about what we're trying to achieve and why, how we function as an organisation, and the thinking behind our plans and strategy.


We'll be regularly sharing these conversations, which will feature different members of our team and trustee board, as well as external experts.


We hope you enjoy listening in to our chats, getting to know our team and finding out what makes us who we are. 



Audio only version:


If you prefer to read rather than watch, the transcription is here: 


Sonia: It's been nearly a year that I've moved away from London, living in quite a rural place. So it's.. yeah, trying to spend more time outdoors and not on my computer. 

Lauren: Yeah. That's really good. Do you feel like that... having that proper time away to switch off and kind of get outside and do something totally different? Do you feel like that has made a difference to how you feel then when you're back at work in terms of your energy levels or... 

Sonia: Yeah, for sure. I think I definitely feel more refreshed after the weekend, even though it's like, yeah, I guess a long weekend. Yeah, definitely. I feel that I have more time to kind of do things that I want to do. Have you been working four days, or? 

Lauren: So, at GAP I do three days a week and for some of that time I was doing some work for other organisations, but recently I've been having what amounts to a four day weekend and yeah, that's such a... the difference I've noticed is that after four days off you properly switch off, you can really spend quality time doing other things. I don't have that same sense of like rushing to fit everything into a kind of, you know, couple of days off when everyone else is doing the same thing. So everyone's very busy. So I think it's been helpful for having time to do other things. 

You know, I do some volunteering for a local social enterprise and it means that I can commit bigger chunks of time to them to really focus on kind of improving the services they offer and like little things rather than going to the chain supermarket on the corner of my street, I can go that little bit further and go to the place that... what they called?... like the zero waste shop at the end of the road and kind of make a slightly better choice in how I'm spending my time. So it's those little things that I think kind of add up. 

What was your kind of motivation for wanting to do four days a week? 

Sonia: I think I just wanted, yeah, some time to kind of do stuff and, you know, other things. Like I also do costume and I'm  kind of an artist as well. So like just to have that actual dedicated time to kind of spend away from the computer I guess. And I think I've been able to do that and little chunks and just kind of feel like I'm not rushing to kind of do things. That I have actually like time and space...kinda, yeah slowed down a bit and now I feel like I can fit everything in, around, you know, work and this and that so it's like nice to have a balance of like different hobbies and yeah. Like you said, like spending a prolonged amount of time doing something. 

Lauren: Have you had have you kind of come up against any challenges with it yet? Working part time? 

Sonia: Not so much yet. Because I said, like, I've started a new project, but I can see like how... I know some people... like there's a lot of people at GAP work four days and a lot of like senior staff do as well. So I can kind of see when there's so much work that needs to be done, kind of meticulously fitting that in. And I can imagine that it would be quite easy to seep that into your extra day even if you've got that day for something else, it's important to kind of have those boundaries. Like, yeah, I'm going to stop working now even if there's still stuff to do sometimes.

Lauren: Yeah I really, I think that's it. And I kind of, I always try and think of it like even if you have five days in the week, you always get to the end of the week
and think there's more that you could be doing. And you know, you never get to the end of all the work on your to do list. And I try to remind myself of that
when it's, you know, the end of my week on a Wednesday because yeah, of course there's more stuff that I could do the next day, but it's setting those personal boundaries and I think I find it really helpful having the regular 1 to 1 meetings, because then you get an opportunity to talk about your workload or sort of say, okay, what needs to be prioritized, what can wait, what can I get help with or what can I help other people with?  And make sure that we always have that sense of working collectively so that you're never feeling like everything has to be done by you and everything's on your shoulders, like making sure that we can kind of share and share the load when we need to with other people. But yeah, that's definitely... I've definitely felt that challenge at times. 

And I also feel like at the beginning of the week when I'm coming back, it just takes that much longer to get caught up with all the messages that have been....The kind of messages on slack or the emails. So I think I've got better now at kind of dedicating the first hour of the day before we have our whole organisation meeting on a Monday. I just dedicate that time to reading through everything, getting caught up, like I don't plan to do anything else in that time. Yeah, and I think getting better at allocating my time is something that I'm finding helpful. So I've had conversations with other staff that are part time about 
how they kind of organise their day based on their energy levels and like what times of day they think it's better to have meetings and conversations with other people and what times of day you feel better able to really put your head down and focus on those sort of longer, meatier projects. And I think that something
that I'm in progress with, I don't think I'm getting it right by any stretch, but I think I'm kind of trying different things and finding what works.