Flex time and work life balance are buzz words these days but what do they really mean? And how does part-time work fit into this mix? These days when I hear part-time on the news these days it is usually in connection with the unemployment rate and those who are underemployed… creating a negative connotation. Yet, there are many who choose to work part-time in order to take care of children or parents, go to school, ease into retirement, etc. So yes, these individuals are seeking a work life balance but not in the way which may be considered typical.
I define a part-time employee as someone who works less than 30 hours per week or is working on a project basis for a company (e.g. edits documents as needed). A part-time employee is NOT always temporary and may not be hourly or junior level. It is possible to work on a part-time basis in most industries with some planning. I have seen jobs posted for part-time lawyers, doctors, marketing professionals, development directors, account analysts, accountants, etc.
If you are thinking of working part-time, there are a number of items to consider before embarking on a job search which may be different from a full time position. This is a great opportunity to think about your personality and what will give you the most satisfaction.
1) Why do you want to work part-time? Is it for financial reasons, benefits, social interaction, intellectual stimulation?
2) Do you need to have a flexible schedule or a set schedule? What hours are you available to work?
3) Do you want to work from home or in an office?
4) If from home, do you have the right set up with equipment, a dedicated space, etc.? What type of interruptions might you face from those with whom you live?
5) Would you be interested in job sharing?
6) What skills are you looking to use/develop? What is your niche?
7) How long do you expect to be working part-time? Do you hope that the position may become full-time at some point?
8) If you had had the opportunity (and desire!) to make your previous full time position into a part-time position, what aspects would you have kept? How would you have restructured your role to use your skills and talents most effectively?
If you are looking for social interaction, then working from home probably will not fulfill that need. If you are amazing with numbers and have your MBA, how can that benefit your future employer? If you do not need benefits such as insurance, you may be able to use that to negotiate higher pay. Convey the value that you will bring to your future employer while maintaining that you are working part-time (fewer hours).
I have noticed with our company’s part-time employees that communication is vital so that projects aren’t left hanging on a day when they aren’t working. We regularly discuss upcoming deadlines so that everyone can plan appropriately and no one is left feeling as though they don’t have the correct support.
Working part-time can be a win-win situation for both the employer and employee with some planning, communication, and team work! Self-reflection ahead of time can help you find the perfect fit to create a great work life balance situation!