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HR professional James Lloyd went self employed to get the family life he wanted. He shares his advice for anyone looking at doing the same.
James Lloyd knows a thing or two about changing your work pattern. He’s a Portfolio People Director with HR firm People Puzzles. So he has to be across all the latest policies and best practice when it comes to HR.
But he also understands it because he’s done it. He turned his back on the 9-5 corporate world and went self employed. Then he hooked up with People Puzzles. They help firms who don’t want, don’t need or can’t afford a full time HR department by providing a local and part time HR director like James. It’s a model that seems to work for People Puzzles, their clients and HR directors who don’t want to work full time.
James explained to us how spending time with his family was key to his decision to work differently.
What family have you got?
I’m married with two daughters aged 11 and nine
What is your flexible working arrangement?
I’m self employed – so work anywhere between 2-4 days per week
Why did you want to go flexible?
For quite a while I had the gnawing feeling inside that my kids won’t be kids forever and I was in real danger of missing more of their childhood than I wanted. I love spending time with them and I’m still at an age where they want to spend time with me (I think I can make a positive impact on their lives). Being ‘present’ at home more has been a big driver behind this.
I also wanted to be able to support my wife and her career by being at home more. She’d been the one to make the vast majority of sacrifices so far. This has just never felt fair, or sat right with me.
How easy/difficult was the process?
I got lucky, hooking up with some great clients and organisations like People Puzzles early which made it much easier. It is different though, and I’m still learning.
Are there particular challenges around working flexibly in your industry?
To work flexibly (in the way I wanted) I had to go self employed – there was little or no chance of doing it otherwise. Senior jobs in large organisations can bring many rewards but they tend to consistently require long hours and travel and whilst many organisations are trying to adapt and become more flexible the gap is still big. This is not new news, it’s one of the significant reasons so many women have historically been excluded or opted away from senior leadership roles.
Has it made you a better dad?
I certainly feel like a better dad (although always room for improvement!)
Has it made you a better employee?
In my case, I felt I had to become a non employee to make it work in the way I wanted – but I do feel that the arrangement makes me more focused in my work and the better balance makes me happier and more engaged in everything I do (work included).
Can you think of a specific time/example when being able to work flexibly has made life easier?
Every single day it does, many, many times over.
What would you say to any employer wary of embracing flexible or part time working?
The world is changing. More women are working than ever before. More men want to share or take up parental care responsibilities – and the old fashioned gender stereotypes are breaking down further and further as each new generation joins the workforce. A failure to embrace new ways of working will simply make your pool of potential employees smaller and smaller (and less and less diverse). That won’t end well.
What would you say to any dad thinking about changing their work pattern?
Plan the financials. Be firm about your boundaries (when you’re ‘at work’ and when you’re not) And most important of all don’t waste any energy worrying about what anyone else thinks.