Before our son was born, my husband and I took a hard look at our schedules.
We thrived as a couple holding down full-time jobs, but we wanted to carve out more time together as a family of three. We wanted to find more balance than our busy schedules allowed while still enjoying the personal and financial benefits of employment in our chosen fields.
After weighing our options, my husband and I made the decision for me to seek a part-time schedule.
According to an article on WorkOptions.com, the quickest (and arguably the most reliable) way to get that coveted part-time, professional schedule is to create that arrangement in your current place of employment. Making that dream a reality means convincing your company of the merits of your part-time plan.
Here are some tips for navigating that corporate road:
1 | Assess your options.
Many companies have existing, written policies regarding flexible working arrangements that clearly spell out the options – part-time schedules, flexible working hours, job sharing arrangements, compressed work weeks, telecommuting, and more. If you can’t track down a formal document, ask your HR department for information.
Keep in mind that while your company may offer a variety of flexible working arrangements, those available to you in your position may be limited. If anyone in your department or within your job level has an existing flexible work arrangement, see if you can pick her brain about the options available and her experience in securing her flexible schedule.
2 | Consider the company climate.
Do some under-the-radar legwork to gauge how hard a sell it will be for you to present your case for a part-time schedule. Get a feel for management’s willingness to offer part-time work. Does your company advertise its desire for flexibility, or does the company culture frown on remote and part-time work?
Choose your timing well. If half of your team just quit, a merger is looming, or you just entered the busy season, your employer may be reluctant to reduce your hours.
3 | Make yourself invaluable.
Your company will be most inclined to offer you a flexible work arrangement if they value having you as an employee.
Establish goodwill with your manager and impress influential colleagues with consistent, timely, professional results and a great attitude. If possible, time your pitch for part-time work so that it comes on the heels of one of your accomplishments.
4 | Ask for more than you need.
Unless you have reason to believe otherwise, assume that your company will want to negotiate your arrangement.
It’s likely in their best interest to have you working a full-time schedule in the office every day. If, at minimum, you need one day off a week, ask for one-and-a-half or two days off.
5 | Address potential pitfalls upfront.
Pick a schedule that will give you the time you need while proving the least detrimental to the company.
For instance, if you’d like to work from home or take off one day each week, propose doing that on your department’s least busy day. Provide a number where you can be reached during your time off in case of legitimate office emergencies. Offer to set up out-of-office messages that let your colleagues and clients know when you’re out, when you’ll return, and who can assist them during your absence.
6 | Request a short-term commitment only.
Don’t force your manager to commit right off the bat.
Propose a one-month trial period of your desired schedule. Alternatively, suggest working a 35-hour-per-week schedule for a set period of time before dropping to your desired 30-hour-per-week schedule to ease the transition. Proving that you can dazzle in your new schedule will go a long way to getting final approval.
7 | Create a written plan.
Requesting a part-time schedule requires face-to-face conversations with your manager. Come armed, however, with a written summary or email one after your initial meeting. Your manager may need to reference the details later and will need the information for potential discussions with upper management and HR.
8 | Plan for the process to take time.
Don’t ask for a response right away, particularly if you’ve taken your manager by surprise with your request.
Assume that you’ll need several, hard-to-locate managers and HR representatives to sign off on your plan. If you can get your manager in your corner during that initial meeting, you’ll have someone speaking to your objectives in discussions.
9 | Know your limit.
Don’t threaten to quit, but aim for a win-win with your manager.
If you need to drive home the importance of your request to your manager, emphasize how much you enjoy your work, how you think you bring significant value to the company, and how you really can’t sustain a schedule any more involved than whatever your limit is.
If you still can’t get the schedule you need, thank your manager for his/her efforts (even if they were minimal) and quietly begin to plan your exit.