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Flexible working – University of Reading

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  • We offer a flexible working environment for our staff

Flexible working

Welcome to the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences (SPCLS) flexible working web pages, which have been prepared with contributions from staff at all levels across the School, ably coordinated by Professor Patricia Riddell, Helen Robson and Ashika Mistry. These pages explain why, as a University and across the School, we are enthusiasts for flexible working and keen to consider flexible working requests. It also links to helpful advice to help our thinking in decisions around flexible working. Finally, it includes very interesting examples of staff working, very effectively, in flexible and part-time modes across the School, as PhD students, Postdocs, Administrators and Lecturers.

We hope you find the variety of practice across the School interesting - indeed inspiring - and that the practical advice and examples are helpful in your own thinking about flexible working arrangements.

Professor Laurie Butler, Head of School

The University offers the possibility of working flexibly to all its staff. The HR website gives further information on flexible working as well as the Employee Health and Wellbeing policy with information on the different options for flexible work, as well as leave and absence and how this might be managed. The purpose of this School website is to give real examples of these different practices and make suggestions for line managers of flexible workers.

Many people worry that flexible working is not accepted by others, such as team members or line managers. However, if the work arrangements are discussed and agreed openly with all concerned, setting out objectives, working arrangements at home and availability, there is no reason that this cannot work satisfactorily. Working flexibly offers to all staff the possibility of improving their working environment, balancing the demands of work and home life, and helps us to retain talented people. Many organisations have reported on the positive benefits of having a flexible workforce in terms of job satisfaction, loyalty and motivation.


Pete Lawrence, Research Training Fellow in Anxiety and Depression Clinical Research Unit (AnDY)

I completed my clinical psychology training in 2009, and began a full time PhD in 2015, while maintaining some clinical responsibilities. I have three young children, and a wife who is also an academic. I am able to work very flexibly, often working from home two days each week and, on my days in the office, working from about 6 until before 5. This flexibility allows me to do more active, helpful and meaningful childcare during the working week. Without this flexibility, the cost of doing a PhD would be too great for my family and me. I am strongly supported by my supervisor to work flexibly, and have a sense that flexible working patterns are well accommodated in the AnDY clinical research lab.

Gail Gilbert, Executive Administration Manager

When I applied for a position within the School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, they were able to offer me hours which enabled me to fit in around my three young children and were flexible enough to change the days that I had childcare available to me. It was so important for me to still be part of their everyday activities and once they started at school, I was able to commit to more hours. SPCLS have continued to support me with flexible working, so that I am able to drop off and pick up on school runs, as well as attending functions at the children's schools and working from home when someone becomes poorly.

Over the years that I've been here, as the children become more independent, I've been able to increase my hours, and I am now working full-time.

This is largely due to the support and understanding from SPCLS. I feel extremely lucky to have such a rewarding job and being allowed the flexibility to retain a healthy work - life balance.

Jo Billington, PhD student

I am working towards my PhD on a part-time basis because I have two young children who I collect from school each day. I have found everyone who has been involved in this process, from my initial application through to my day-to-day working life, to be extremely accommodating of my need for flexible working arrangements. My supervisors are particularly mindful of the commitments I have outside my studies and are proactive in helping me find creative ways of meeting my deadlines. They are happy to schedule meetings at times that are convenient to me and offer suggestions on how I can adapt my working practices to accommodate school holidays and other necessary absences.

Cathy Creswell, Professor of Developmental Clinical Psychology

I reduced my hours to 60% fte when I returned to work after maternity leave with my first son (Joe, now 12). I gradually increased to 80% fte after my second son (Ben, now 8) was born as my partner (Colin, now 45!) was able to be a bit more flexible with his hours. When Ben started school I returned to work 100% fte however have worked in a flexible way since then. I try as hard as I can to work at home two days a week and to collect them from school on those days. To accommodate this I do some long days and catch up with work in the evenings- though I keep weekends sacred (mostly successfully). At times it can feel like life is all work and childcare, so I try hard to make sure there is a bit of time for friends and fun (not that work and children aren't fun!) but I do recognize the fact that there are many jobs where I would have to make a choice between working full-time and seeing much of my children during the week and really appreciate the opportunity I have had.

Dr Shan Shen, MRI Operations Officer

I am working full time as MRI Operations Officer in the School of Psychology and at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics. Having two school children and a full time job can be challenging, needless to say. My husband takes care of most of the school runs, but due to the flexibility of my colleagues I can put in my fair share. I spend a lot of my working hours operating the MRI Scanner, so my time needs to be scheduled very precisely. I need reliable and competent colleagues to stand in for me at short notice from time to time. I have an arrangement for leaving at 3 pm once a week, and it is working out very well. I do come in early and stay late when necessary. It is the planning that makes my life easier and my colleagues completely understand that.

Sarah Snuggs, PhD student

I began my PhD studies in 2015 with my then 1 and 3 year old sons in nursery in London. When I was offered the (full-time) role, my youngest was only 5 months old so the prospect of a long commute away from the little one was daunting. Ahead of my start, I agreed with my supervisor that I would routinely spend 3 days a week in Reading and 2 days at home. I also work an early day; I'm usually in by 7.30 and leave by 3.30 which allows me to do nursery pick-ups and bedtime while my husband does the morning drop-offs. My supervisor has been exceptionally supportive of these arrangements and I feel that they work well for both my work and personal life.

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