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SPACE: Supporting Parents and Carers @ Cambridge


This list contains recommendations that the majority of people who participated in the case study have contributed to. There are some tips for flexible working in general and some on how to approach a change in working pattern. You can view the full list below, but it is worth highlighting a few that were very common.


  1. Be pro-active and explore the possibilities the policy offers. It is even possible to combine a range of different patterns to give you and your employer the best balance.

  2. Talk with the people around you (line managers, team members, etc.). There might be people who are already working flexibly and can talk about their experiences. In particular the departmental administrators know a lot about what is possible.

  3. Negotiate with your family and your workplace to find the best balance.

  4. Start planning early. This gives you enough time to think through different scenarios and it will also enable you to give enough notice to your employer.

  5. Be flexible yourself. Asking for flexibility often demands that you give flexibility as well.



  • Know your own value to enable you to generate positive thinking in other people, in relation to flexible working being possible.

  • Be very organised

  • Be flexible


Amy Morris

  • Be proactive and explore the possibilities with HR before you make a final decision.

  • Be prepared for diverse responses from colleagues, but there is no need to be apologetic about applying for something that is within your rights.

  • Be reassured that your skills and abilities will still grow and develop, albeit possibly at a slower pace.



  • Be prepared to ask for what you want.

  • By its very nature, academic research is time consuming. Be prepared for the challenges of reducing from full-time status.

  • Practice saying “No” - In a work environment where six or seven day weeks are standard, you’ll need to build this muscle.


Charles Jones

  • Gradual retirement is better than sudden: don’t go from 100% to 0%

  • Negotiate with the rest of the family, particularly the partner

  • Don’t overcommit too suddenly, e.g. with voluntary work etc.


David Shepherd

  • If you are a father, seriously consider part-time or flexible working, since it is great for the relationship with your children.

  • Ask early about opportunities to work flexibly and give the people you are working with closely enough notice.

  • While on the waiting list, keep in touch with the University nurseries and with people who are also on the list – you never know what you might hear through the grapevine.


Deb Morgan

  • Don’t leave it to the last minute and find out all the options well in advance.

  • Take your time to think.

  • Consider the impacts on your lifestyle and finances.


Diane Foster

  • Talk openly with your line manager and/or your departmental administrator.

  • Use the other services of the University, as they can be of more help than one might think.

  • Assess the financial implications since they might be the limiting factor.



  • Do not ask about flexible working in an interview, but leave it for when you get the job offer.

  • Make sure along the way that you are happy with the arrangements – evaluate your situation with a friend, a mentor or your line-manager.


Howard Stone

  • Don’t be frightened of the possibilities and asking for what you want, particularly since the majority of academic activities are output orientated and are easily combined with flexible working.

  • Seek advice from people around you, e.g. line managers, colleagues, or University networks and services.


Margaret Harding

  • Let your department know in good time, so that it can be factored in with forward planning.

  • Approach the department with a plan and suggestions.

  • Be willing to work with your department.

  • Remain flexible yourself, possibly even consider a change in responsibilities.


Pam Rowling

  • Don’t be afraid to ask about flexible working – most people are more willing than not to accommodate you.

  • Sell yourself and show that you are worth it.

  • Build up trust between yourself and your supervisor.


Rachel Hobson

  • Explore all the options available to you.


Rachel Oliver

  • Think about childcare early.

  • Don’t be afraid to talk to Head of Department or line manager about flexible working because people are generally very helpful and understanding.

  • Be prepared to be flexible yourself.


Rebecca Darlow

  • Do your research

  • Provide a solution/plan

  • Negotiate


Simon Beard

  • Be open and honest about your disability.

  • Work out what you need to use your time effectively.

  • Find time to give yourself a break, to take time off.


Susan Gowans

  • Develop a good relationship with your line manager.

  • Show that you are willing to be part of the give and take relationship.

  • Try to separate work and home issues and confine them to distinct domains – it will minimize the conflict between the two.

  • Organization (work, home and financially)


Suzanne Campbell

  • Communication is even more vital when working remotely.It is very easy to reply to emails and to forget to copy everyone else who may be involved in to the correspondence.

  • It is important to remember and appreciate that others at work will inevitably have an increased workload, because often people prefer “face to face” communication rather than email.

  • It is also important to discuss with your supervisor, as soon as possible, if there may need to be any changes to the period of flexible working originally agreed.


Vanessa Blake

  • If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

  • Be careful of doing a full time job for a fraction of the pay.

  • Learn when to say “No”.