The world of work has been through a lot recently, hasn’t it? From the traditional 9-5, we moved to remote, flexible working and now remote workers have been called back to the office and we are moving to hybrid*. There is a new kid on the block now though, fractional working. It’s a way of working born from US tech companies, so it is obviously making its impact over here now as a couple of my global clients have been asking for my thoughts and support.
Fractional working, as the name implies is about dividing your working week into fractions, but it is very different to project work. Consider how project work is done; your freelancer is given a task and a deadline and it’s up to them how they manage and deliver that work. If they work around the clock, get it all done and deliver it before the deadline, then that’s great for everyone and the employer should not demand more hours or more work and the freelance gets X days’ pay for doing it in Y.
Fractional work is different; think of it as part-time work for senior-level people, and for more than one employer. It’s a little like being a freelance consultant, but you are employed and on PAYE, with all the benefits that brings. BUT, you are only employed by the first company for one, two or three days – leaving you the other days to be employed by a second (or even third) business. That’s the key difference between fractional working and working part-time; fractional workers will most likely work for more than one company.
From an employer’s perspective, it can make experienced people a lot more affordable. Imagine the scene; you are building your business; you have a turnover of between £5 and £10 million and you’d like to build a C-suite of experienced professionals to steer your business to the next level. People like that don’t come cheap and also, in a business of your size, there probably isn’t enough work for them to fill full time hours. Enter fractional working – you could employ a CEO, a COO, a CFO etc for two days a week each and have access to their experience and skills but for a lot less money than a full-time role would pay.
From an employee’s point of view, it could mean earning a full-time wage for part time hours; For example, a candidate may want £100k for a full-time role but get £50k for two days a week at one company, and then £50k for two days a week at another. So, they would be on a full-time salary for four days work a week. The companies involved are happy to pay this amount because for each of them it’s half the price of taking the consultant on full time.
The potential beneficiaries of fractional working are huge; think of anyone returning to work after a hiatus, especially women from maternity leave. Fractional working can level the playing field, allowing them to step back into the working arena without sacrificing seniority or responsibilities, and of course pay. Also, let’s not kid ourselves, the industry is pretty openly ageist, so the seasoned professionals who are often considered ‘too experienced,’ can find a new lease of professional life, contributing their highly valuable expertise on their terms. Working like this can offer variety to employees and terms that suit them.
Employers will also benefit because although they could share their CEO with another competing company, they will hopefully consider this as a huge benefit. We are all grown-ups so each business will benefit from the learnings gleamed from the trials and tribulations of the other and both will grow and flourish.
But will this way of working impact on our industry? It already is to some extent with experiential agencies leading the way. In my experience they are more proactive and progressive, whereas events agencies can be a little more passive and reactive to working trends. Experiential agencies, the good ones, are more a part of the marketing and advertising industry, and these people look past the ‘here and now’ and into the future; like a racing driver doesn’t look at the road, they look at the horizon.
Fractional working could be really, really good for our industry on so many levels, but it needs us to look forward, and get excited about the impact it could have. Go on – embrace the change because who needs the comfort of sameness?
*Remote = never in the office
Flexible = Set you own pattern/place of work but need to be in the office 1 or 2 days a week
Hybrid = Mix of office and WFH but they are fixed
About the author.
I’m Robert Kenward, Chief Talent Officer and creator of FitabilityⓇ.
I’ve been working in the recruitment, Live Events, Brand Experience, and Experiential Marketing space for over two decades. I’ve been a candidate, a client, and a recruiter.
This makes me well acquainted with the challenges you face and enables me to cover the entire talent spectrum above £60k.
I care deeply about my work and I’m generous with my time.
Hit me up if you’d like a new perspective on solving classic hiring problems.
Or book directly into my diary HERE to see how I can help you attract, select and retain your next senior hire.