There’s more to life than maps

This National Work Life Week, we want to recognise that Astuners are more than employees. They’re also parents, siblings, offspring and members of their community. Many of them – over 40% – choose to work part-time so they can achieve the work life balance that’s right for them.

Although research from The Labour Force Survey shows that the number of men in part-time roles has increased over the last 25 years, there is some doubt as to whether these positions are of a lower-quality than their full-time counterparts. As a company with a higher than average percentage of male part-timers – 25% of our male employees at the time of writing – we can safely say that’s not the case at Astun! Our part-time roles encompass a wide range of challenging positions across the company, including in consultancy, sales, finance and marketing.

We believe that there are real business benefits to be gained from offering jobs that fall outside the nine-to-five. Our MD, Mike Saunt, is adamant that flexibility works for both parties. He says, “There’s a wealth of really talented people who aren’t suited to working standard office hours, Monday to Friday. Mike Smith is a great example of this. After eleven years as Head of Sales, he’ll be taking a new part-time role with us from January. Our clients will continue to benefit from his expertise and he’ll have the time he needs to finish his book on philately and be a hands-on grandad. It’s a win-win situation.”

Here’s an insight into what flexible working means to Jo Cook, our Metadata Lead:

“For the last three years or so, I’ve been a so-called “part-timer” at Astun, working a 4.5 day week with Friday afternoons off. I thought long and hard about making this decision at the time, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I am, of course, always aware of being in a position of privilege that allows me to afford it, and that Astun are very generous in allowing me to do it. When I decided to try it, initially with a three month trial, I drove a hard bargain with myself, in that I must make the most of the afternoon and do something fun, rather than wasting it on things like chores, or shopping. Use it or lose it, basically!

There aren’t really any downsides about having Friday afternoon off. Weather permitting, I can go climbing for the afternoon on my local crags, or pre-pandemic, at the local climbing wall. If we’re going away for the weekend, we can leave early and beat the traffic. After three years, I still get a nice surprise on Saturday evening, when I remember that it is not Monday the next day! 

I’m pretty strict about actually finishing work at lunchtime too- otherwise it would be easy to slip back into the habit of working and not actually taking the time off. I use the “Quiet for Gmail” app on my phone to ensure I don’t receive work emails after 1pm. On the odd occasion when I have a big deadline I will work the afternoon rather than spend it stressing, but then I can bank the extra 0.5 days as holiday.

I’m pretty sure that my productivity hasn’t suffered as a result of this change. There’s an incentive to use my time as well as possible, and the fact that I have more of a break at the weekend means I’m hopefully more refreshed and productive throughout the rest of the week. I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to a full five days working now!”

Of course, full-timers can also need a little help to achieve a better work life balance. Some full-time Astuners flex their hours so they can care for others, do the school run or let off steam during the day by going for a run or taking their dogs for a walk. The children of Matt Walker, our, our Geospatial Architect, enjoyed lunchtime bike rides during lockdown and Matt has also found our flexible approach supports his role as SEND Governor at his local primary school.

To find out more about our team and what it’s like to work with us, please visit our About page.

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