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Part-Time or Non-Traditional Hours/Location?

Defining what part-time means to you is an first important step

Nataly Kogan at WorkItMom was blogging recently about the pros and cons of part time working arrangements. That got me thinking about one of my pet peeves regarding part time, which is that people tend to use the “part time” label to describe a range of non-traditional working arrangements. So one person’s definition of part time may be very different from someone else’s and that’s where the problem begins.

When people tell me they want to work “part time,” the first thing I ask is what they mean by part time. They might say “I don’t know, maybe 25-30 hours a week.” A little probing often reveals they wouldn’t mind working more hours if some of the work could be done at home, say between 9 pm and midnight, or during other family down times. It’s the on-site presence during business hours that is the real part-time requirement.

Full-time jobs with components that can be done remotely and not during traditional business hours (creating presentations, catching up on non-urgent work email, researching companies or industries, creating a logo, evaluating a marketing strategy, creating a financial model, website design, grading papers, writing performance reviews, etc.), present opportunities for forward-thinking managers and their current or prospective employees to create work situations with built-in flexibility.

Creating your own definition of part time:

  • Work Location: Distinguish for yourself (and for your current or prospective employer) what pieces of the job require an on-site presence during traditional office hours and what can be done remotely.
  • Hours: How many hours are you really able to work? If some of those hours could be at non-traditional times and from home, would you be willing to increase them?
  • Compensation: Figure out what the full-time equivalent position would pay and pro-rate that salary for the number of part-time hours worked, whether in or out of the office, and whether during traditional or non-traditional office hours.

Define what you mean by "part time," for yourself and for your current or prospective employer, so you don’t feel taken advantage of and so you are meeting your employer’s expectations.


Cali Yost's Work+Life "Fit" blog post on how defining "part time" made a big difference in survey results about desired changes in employee work situations.

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