Friday 29 July 2022

Part-time work can be a game changer for families and a smart strategy for organisations

Posted by Belinda Morgan, flexible work expert & author; Amelia Lake and Helen Moore, researchers from Fuse at Teesside University

Part-time work has the potential to change lives. Done well, it can drive hugely positive outcomes for individuals, families and society. But its potential isn’t widely understood, so part-time work still sits largely on the sidelines of organisational strategy – under-rated and under-utilised.

And even organisations who are leading the way with the accessibility and implementation of part-time work, are rarely doing it well at all levels. It’s still very uncommon to see senior leaders working part-time.

Amelia Lake, Fuse Associate Director, and Helen Moore, Fuse Associate, at Teesside University are bucking this trend. Both work in senior level roles in public health research, leading teams and both work part-time.

Amelia and Helen were two of the senior leaders I interviewed when writing my book Solving the Part-Time Puzzle: How to decrease your hours, increase your impact, and thrive in your part-time role. They shared their stories about how they make their part-time arrangements work, and the benefits they experience from working in this way.

Helen Moore (left) and Amelia Lake (right) both work part-time in public health research
Amelia said, “When I first started working at Teesside University, I would frequently get asked what was my ‘side hustle’ when I wasn’t at work and people were surprised to hear that I was doing family activities with my (then) young children. While I appreciate working part-time is a privilege, it allows me a better work-life balance and time with my children.

“During the pandemic, and post-pandemic, childcare has been difficult to access, and being part-time means some days of the week can be less stressful in terms of childcare. Working part-time means I work even more collaboratively with colleagues as their support when I am not at work is important. It can be hard to switch off emails and alerts on non-working days, and I don’t always do it, but I know it is important.”

Helen said, “It was, and is, important for me, as the primary carer of young children (I have two sets of twins) with a husband who works away in the Merchant Navy, to be able to have some flexibility around when and how I work. This supports me in being able to take them to, and pick them up from, school several days of the week, and to not have to rely all of the time on either family help (which can feel like an imposition) or paid childcare (which is both expensive and difficult to find when you have four children).”

So why is it so rare to see senior leaders working part-time? Largely because there’s an embedded belief that senior leadership roles are the most challenging to do part-time. Many people will tell you it’s impossible – and that it’s not even worth attempting.

Stories of leaders like Amelia and Helen are hugely important, because we badly need more senior leaders leading the way and working part-time. When senior leaders do so it demonstrates to others that part-time work is acceptable and encouraged, and that it’s possible to keep growing a career while working part-time.

The individual and family wellbeing benefits are quite clear, and should be reason enough for organisations to start creating more part-time work opportunities. But the reality is that more encouragement may be required.

The good news is that there are some other big reasons for organisations to get on board with this.

A clear and highly relevant advantage for employers is talent attraction and retention. In the context of the ‘great resignation’ of 2022 this is a critical consideration for organisations looking to find creative ways to solve the talent shortage.

Firstly, it allows employers to retain their talented people who reach a point where they want or need to work part-time.

In Amelia’s words, “We need to see more people in leadership roles working part-time. I was promoted to Professor in my part-time working pattern which illustrates that it is possible to do high quality impactful work building capacity and also doing research, while working part-time. Teesside University has both promoted me and supported me in my part-time role.”

It also enables employers to tap into a hidden talent pool of highly qualified people who either can’t or choose not to work full-time. They include people with caring responsibilities, people with health issues, and people at retirement age who would stay in the workforce longer if given the opportunity to work part-time.

Helen said, “I strongly believe that working part-time doesn’t equate to a reduction in performance, and that it is demonstrated by my promotion to Associate Professor and being one of two Teesside University Star Award Research Excellence finalists in 2021.

“Being supported by Teesside University to work part-time in a senior role enables me to both lead the work of the University’s successful Evaluation and Impact Team, and to be able to be present and care for my four children.

“Having managers who were willing to try something new, even take a risk, and recruit a person to work part-time hours to establish and lead a new team has paid off and worked well – it has enabled me to grow significantly as both a researcher and a research leader.

“Roles similar to mine which I have previously considered, have been strictly full-time hours only, and did not feel open to someone with other commitments like me. There are a lot of talented people who for various reasons would like to work less than full-time hours, and I’m hopeful that my experience shows it is possible.”

This is also, of course, about inclusion. The consulting firm Timewise warns that if a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programmes aren’t underpinned by a commitment to flexible working that includes part-time, they will struggle to be fully inclusive. 'This will not only have a negative impact on their gender pay gap, but is also likely to impact their employer brand'

As well as the talent related benefits, there are also productivity benefits to be reaped by organisations who are willing to introduce more part-time roles. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data confirms that productivity (defined as output per working hour) improves with shorter hours. Across the world’s richest countries, higher productivity correlates with lower working hours.

The power and potential of part-time work really is huge. It can be a game changer for families and a smart people strategy for organisations.

Friday 22 July 2022

Going hybrid: The best of both worlds?

Posted by Helen Moore, Associate Professor (Research), Teesside University

Since 2012 my ability to attend in-person and participate in seminars, conferences and workshops has been significantly reduced. This was partially due to a change in my mobility while I was pregnant with twins twice (!) (2012, 2015), and then after my pregnancies, due to the challenges of arranging childcare for four small children. It has become easier as they have got older, but after my second maternity leave, I returned to work but remained the primary carer for four children under the age of four as their father (my husband), was (and still is) a Merchant Navy captain, which involves working away for half of every year.

Make an enquiry about getting professional technical help as soon as you conceive the idea
 – don’t assume it will be prohibitively expensive
During this time, I had always felt very grateful to any event organiser who took the time to release the slides after their events or, as time progressed and technology moved on, to run an additional online version as this enabled me to participate, albeit in a less than perfect fashion, but I viewed it as certainly being better than nothing. I hadn’t really appreciated how many other people were also often unable to attend events in-person, due to other factors in their lives, but this was brought into sharper focus for me with the Covid-19 pandemic when I started reading, and joining in with, conversations on social media around event accessibility that had never been on my radar.

I’m sure everyone remembers that when lockdowns were imposed, initially events were completely cancelled but as time progressed and it became clear this was not going to be a ‘flash in the pan’, the planning stages of events began to include considerations of how best to run them entirely online, with many people having to rapidly learn and develop skills around using technology to engage with the maximum number of participants possible.

Between January-April 2021, I was part of a team that worked on a project commissioned by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) which looked at the impact of Covid-19 on the hot food takeaway planning regulatory environment in North East England. As the project drew to a close the team thought that this, alongside other work we had been involved in, or were aware of, would make an excellent Fuse Research Event, and my colleague Professor Amelia Lake and I decided we would work together to make it happen.

I was keen to explore the possibilities of having a, in my view, truly hybrid event, where participants could choose to attend in person or via a real time remote video stream, and where presenters could choose to be in the room or present via a MS Teams link. I had previously worked with the team from Teesside University’s Aurora House on other projects, and Amelia had worked with them to create the live stream of her inaugural professorial lecture, so we were confident that they possessed the skills, the technology and the will to ensure this could happen.

It took a lot of organisation to get this to work, and having organised many events pre-Covid, it was definitely more work than if we had decided to run a traditional event with in-person attendance only. I spent significant amounts of time thinking about how we could include the remote audience and presenters in the discussion in the most effective way. The entire event was live streamed on the Fuse YouTube channel, with a technician ensuring that the virtual audience saw a mix of angles and information during the session. We used to allow the remote audience to submit questions during each presentation, and then one of the organising team asked the questions using the same microphone that was used for questions from the room so everyone could hear.


We only had one minor hiccup, in that we used my personal Teams account to allow the external speakers to present, and I forgot to decline meetings that were scheduled to run at the same time – and, of course, the other meeting used the chat function, which meant everyone could read their messages! We managed to get a message to the other meeting and they quickly stopped using the chat function!

As usual, we asked for feedback on the event, and the comments were extremely positive, including the fact it was hybrid, with “Ability to attend online”, mentioned in more than one response.

I would absolutely encourage people to think about making the effort to run hybrid events. it widens your audience and opens up different avenues for discussion – posing a question via an online function is, for most people, less scary than standing up and speaking into a microphone! 

My top tips for running a hybrid event

While I was writing this blog, I thought about what my top five tips would be for anyone considering running a hybrid event in the future:
  1. Make an enquiry about getting professional technical help as soon as you conceive the idea – don’t assume it will be prohibitively expensive;
  2. Ensure you communicate with the presenters and attendees, before and during the event, about how they can interact and engage during the event;
  3. Use interactive apps such as
  4. Avoid using personal accounts for external events, such as Teams or Zoom (or make sure to decline any other meetings scheduled at the same time!)
  5. Always ask for feedback to improve future events.

Tuesday 12 July 2022

The Fuse conference in four Public Partner poems

How to capture the essence of a conference about setbacks, successes and 'brilliant failures' in public health research - an event report, a news story, the results of a survey?  What about in the prose of our public partners who provided their expertise as panellists?  That is what they suggested and here they are.

The 5th Fuse International Conference on Knowledge Exchange in Public Health took place between 15-16 June 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne.  Find out more about the event, speakers and panellists on the conference website.

..the Fuse experience

PJ Atkinson, public member of Gateshead Poverty Truth Commission

PJ in the centre of a fishbowl conversation
Recently I was Invited to chat with Fuse.

Well it was a Wednesday, had nowt to lose.

They numerify and storify researching for Public Health.

And let me tell you, with very little wealth.

We had main stage speakers, panels, and side room topics, it was never droll, even sat in a fish bowl!!!

We discussed, pyramid breaking, old ideas smashing, and reforming, these people are fun never boring.

But most of all, they turn setbacks into learning, with passion and resolve.

Fuse and its people, want to adapt, grow and evolve.

Knowledge Flow

David Black, Fuse public partner and hospital governor 

(r-l) David and Irene providing their expertise on how to turn setbacks in knowledge exchange into successes

After waiting too long the day came along and it's off to the conference for me.

Knowing where I'm going, despite the traffic slowing, I'm knowing I'll be on time.

Must listen today then whisk my thoughts away to plan what I'll say tomorrow.

A script's what I need after taking heed of the need for brevity.


We're off and running, the introductions are made and it's welcome to one and all.

A programme, like life, which can be subject to change.

Reflections on knowledge mobilisation and mistakes.

Evidence of local knowledge exchanged at place.


Amid the plethora of parallel sessions and plenary panels.

The exchange of views over coffees and teas.

The paper presentations and interactive poster sessions.

Fishbowls of hot topics and Cabaret of dangerous ideas.


A modicum of the local and a smorgasbord of internationalism.

I entered to play at the start of the day, full of eagerness to learn.

To share a thought and to be taught a lesson by all in attendance.

Public health, its impacts and strength of this particular human endeavour.


Day two is here and I'm ready, with no fear.

Up on the stage, knowing what to say and trying to keep it brief.

Then before you know it's off, we go and ending with applause all-round.

To have a voice and speak it out, it's a great place to be.


Good feedback I'm feeling, plenary speaking's appealing.

Networking and knowledge sharing, I'm doing.

A supportive, safe space, it's a real great place.

For setbacks and solutions to be shared.


So, to the end game, the main themes and learning all noted.

My highlight, the brilliant afternoon keynote.

Institute of Brilliant Failures with celebration, laughter, a new way of thinking.

A refreshing concept, informing my future knowledge sharing and learning.

My First Fuse Conference

Margaret Ogden, Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) representative from County Durham

Margaret (right) sharing her experience of the importance of setbacks in knowledge exchange in public health

I went to the Fuse conference in mid June 22

PPI members were invited, I met more than a few

The focus was knowledge exchange, so meaningful to me

In presenting I’d soon see how dynamic I could be

I loved the international element to this annual conference

Diversity was a theme that would get so much reference

Seldom heard communities, always a huge challenge

Dissemination of info too, a challenging thing to manage

Just how effective can knowledge exchange be

With the right expertise, it can be achieved quite easily.

I began my talk with detail of a planned PPI event

That didn’t go well, in spite of the hours which we spent

Planning, collaborating, finding the right venue

But with few attendees present, it can all go askew

We’d do better next time, was our overriding thought

For on that occasion, limited data was caught

I also referred to a further memorable meeting

Where conflict had arisen, it could have been defeating

It was really a clash of people with strong wills

I had to dig deep for new negotiating skills.

As a panel, I felt we made a great team

This experience had totally elevated my self esteem

My first face to face high profile event

At a nearby location, that was heaven sent

My mobility had worsened in the last two years

Confidence had been dented, I now had fears

I needed to get stamina back and level of fitness

I imagine my struggles were hard to witness

But as I move forward with determination and fortitude

I thanked my hosts for the invite which I’d accepted with gratitude

I didn’t make the second day of this interactive event

That had been a real shame, was my only lament.

Knitting out the Knots 

Irene Soulsby, Fuse public member from Gateshead

We talked a lot 

Knitting out the knots 

We talked and talked and talked 


Knitting out the knots 

Comparing designs 

Line by line 

Reknitting stiches  

Holes and lines 

Redesigning our designs 

Comparing setbacks and successes 

Knitting them into things that would impress us  

Learning from each other 

With enthusiasm and sharing 

Creating our new designs.

Many thanks to our public partners for taking the time to write their fantastic poems for this Fuse Open Science Blog. 

If you are interested in joining the Fuse Public Partner Network please visit the dedicated Public Involvement section on our website.