Thinking of asking for part-time hours? Read this first!

Having spent the last eight years working three days per week, I have firsthand experience of the benefits of part-time working arrangements, particularly when raising three young children. Those pesky medical, tradesperson and personal appointments can be slotted into my ‘off’ days, I save on childcare and travel costs and it’s great to only have to wear corporate attire for three days!

BUT there are key considerations when contemplating a move to part-time hours, which often are only realised after you’ve already moved to a part-time role.

You are likely to still need to ‘check-in’ on your non-working days

This is particularly relevant if you are providing a service to clients (internal or external) and/or you perform a time critical function that requires a timely response to achieve the desired outcomes. Even if you job-share your role, unless you have airtight handover discussions with your job partner on a weekly basis, expect the inevitable calls or emails. Often the fact that work emails and phone messages still accumulate on your ‘off’ days means that you may need to check-in spasmodically, at least to alleviate the workload when you return.  People considering part-time hours may fantasise about switching off their mobiles when they leave and having a clear break (similar to an Easter long weekend), but given that work still comes in, the reality is quite different.

You are unlikely to get promoted

Like a Faustian-type bargain, most part-timers that I have met have reported that career advancement chances have reduced in favour of their permanent counterparts, particularly if they work less than four days per week. A fellow part-time peer was told by their manager that leading teams, especially if they are full-time predominantly, was better suited to a full time manager. Whilst agile working practices and technology have started to change perceptions that employees always need to be present in the office to be productive, from a leadership and promotion perspective, there is still a long way to go.

For those individuals who do hold key leadership roles and work part-time, has it been easy or difficult to achieve? I’d love to hear from you to gauge whether there are any trends arising across sectors or numbers of days worked.  

Time will not be your friend

Unless you job share, squeezing all your work into your shortened week will be a constant consideration. On a positive note, you will (hopefully) evolve to be more efficient in your work practices, but the casualty can often be the casual interactions that you have with your work colleagues, which help build personal relationships and can improve the team culture. You are likely to be moving from one appointment, obligation or deadline to another with minimal downtime, which can also result in burnout and forfeit the benefits of part-time work in the first place.

Events and functions won’t always suit your schedule

Unfortunately, it is highly likely that there will be events, conferences, training, company meetings and/or team building events that won’t fall into your set work days. There will be a need to attend some of these functions and you may not get paid for your attendance.

All-in-all, I’m still a fan

Despite the above, I am a strong advocate of the benefits of part-time work, as it does facilitate quality time with family, whilst still balancing a stimulating role and work environment. Whilst generally people reflect on the financial repercussions and broad work/lifestyle aspects of part-time employment, consideration needs to be given to the above factors when determining whether it is truly your own employment nirvana.

Roma Grant

Roma has over 15 years experience in recruitment across both technical and non-technical disciplines. With proven success in identifying strategic leaders and key talent for challenging niche positions, Roma places a strong emphasis on candidate management and partnering with clients. Placing a strong focus on candidate care and talent mapping, Roma feels that this focus helps her to deliver positive results, particularly for technical roles with a limited candidate pool that are difficult to source. Roma’s industry knowledge and executive search experience allows her to add value to her clients and proactively identify and engage ‘passive’, highly-sought candidates. She has cultivated extensive networks with key leaders.

Roma Grant
Senior Consultant, Technical & Operations
Slade Executive Recruitment
Level 7, 15 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9235 5100
rgrant@sladegroup.com.au
sladegroup.com.au

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work
2 comments on “Thinking of asking for part-time hours? Read this first!
  1. Tracie Andrews says:

    I tried the three days a week and found that surprisingly I felt disconnected form the work, four days a week was perfect for me when children were at school.

    Now back working fulltime, with flexible hours which is fantastic.

    • Roma Grant Roma Grant says:

      Hi Tracie,

      Thanks for reading and commenting on the article. Based on other part-timers I’ve spoken to, 3 days is quite challenging in terms of maintaining connection without doing some work at home (almost like working a 4th day at home). 4 days seems to be a better balance, or having 5 days with flexibility; it’s great you have an employer that provides this option.

      Regards Roma

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