Flex it out – how to balance work with the rest of your life

For all of us, balancing work can be difficult, especially if we have other commitments such as a child, are studying or have a dependent loved one. If work is beginning to pile up, then you have to be aware that you do have options.

Hospitality employment is great for offering flexible solutions so you can arrange your working hours around your other duties. One option is flexi-time, which allows you to change your starting and finishing times every day, with bosses giving a choice of a few time slots, such as 8am-4pm and 10am to 6pm, and then the worker being able to choose for each day. How open this is will depend on your company so don't just go in assuming anything.

For some companies, they may be as flexible to allow you to work any time you want, as long as a full shift has been completed. This tends to occur much more in admin or office jobs, but it won't harm to ask. If anything, hospitality firms tend to prefer staggered hours, where workers have different start and finish times, because this ensures that busy times are well-staffed.

Time off in lieu may also be suggested, where you leave at an agreed time as long as you make up the hours in the future, especially when someone else goes off sick or on holiday. This agreement tends to be more informal. Alternatively, you may want to compress your hours, so that you work your shifts over a shorter number of working days. Hotels in particular tend to favour this as they will want people on shift for all 24 hours of the day.

But what if your employer is not one to negotiate with? If you work in a large company, it may be possible to swap your hours with other employees. Your boss will agree with this as long as all services are met. You may also want to ask about self-rostering, where team members are given more control over what hours they work. While management will deal with the number of staff on each given day, you can then let them know what hours you can and can't work. Shifts are then allocated as close as possible to individual preferences, but know that this cannot always be achieved for practical purposes.

If none of these options are possible, it may be worth just working part-time. You will still be treated with the same hourly wage and rights. As part of this, you may be proposed with term-time working, where you will take unpaid leave during school holidays if you have kids or are studying. Temping is great for an employer because they do not commit to an individual and only keep them on for busy seasonal times such as summer or Christmas.

Berkeley Scott provides specialist advice and support to help you with your career in hospitality.