“My virtual office is always open”
In an interview with Prof Dr Malte Martensen, Professor of HR Management and Organisation, he talks about his part-time professorship and flexible working hours at universities
IUBH: What attracted you to a professorship at a university of applied sciences?
Malte Martensen: Ever since I was a student myself, I thought the idea of being a university teacher was interesting. In my opinion, as lecturers we have a unique opportunity to enrich other people’s lives with content and methodology, as well as cultural and human insights. With this, I experience my work as very meaningful and effective. In fact, even on the weekend I already look forward to my lectures of the upcoming week. However, I have a huge advantage: I teach personnel management and organisation, my favourite subject areas in business administration.
IUBH: Why part time?
Martensen: The professorship does not actually feel like part time to me. I tell my students I do not have any office hours, that my virtual office is always open. Regardless of whether its evenings or weekends, everyone usually gets an answer from me within a few hours. It is not as if I am off work when I leave the campus.
So why not a full-time professorship? Because I try to keep my professional portfolio balanced. Part of this is my job as a university lecturer, which I love. Another part is my work as a consultant, trainer and coach. And of course, I want time to spend with my family. I also work with the NGO Childaid Network on vocational education in Northeast India and need free time for this voluntary position.
IUBH: What advantages and disadvantages does a part-time professorship have for you?
Martensen: My students clearly have the advantage that everything we discuss in lectures has relevance to them and their employability. Sometimes I am fresh from a strategy workshop with a client and I bring this material directly into the classroom. This is exactly what our IUBH students expect: practical relevance. At the same time, I take a lot of the students’ ideas and spirit into my projects and training sessions. Sometimes my clients ask me about the opinion of generation Y or Z on a specific topic.
IUBH: Do you think flexible working hours will become even more prevalent?
Martensen: I think we have a pioneering role in higher education and as professors. We have a relatively large amount of freedom in terms of content, methodology and our work hours. We are thus a prototype for the “knowledge workers” of the twenty-first century. That means, if we cannot deal with flexible working hours, who can?