Some of the top professional services firms have recently been offering temporary part-time working to all of their staff. I hear on the grapevine that the take up for this offer has been very good and it has avoided the need for further redundancies. From personal experience, for it to be successful working part time takes time to re-adjust and a different mindset to working full time.
As someone that worked part-time for three years at my last employers, here are my eight top tips at achieving more whilst being a part-timer.
1. Choose your hours carefully
When choosing which days or hours to work, aim to pick hours that suit both the demands of your role AND your personal needs. For example if your team meets weekly on a Monday, it makes sense to be present for this team meeting. Be prepared for some give and take – for example, it is absolutely fine to ask that the weekly team meeting moves to a day you want to work – but be prepared that your request may be turned down. It tends to work better if you have a block of days when you are working. For example, mon-wed, tue-thu or wed-fri
2. Aim to hit the ground running
As a part-timer you don’t normally have the luxury of easing into the week. Your time is very precious – particularly if you HAVE to leave by a certain time to pick up children from a nursery or childminder. Work doesn’t magically disappear just because you have to leave at 16:00. Use your train journey into work (or an hour the night before a working day) to check e-mails and plan what you need to achieve in your working week.
3. Remote working
Particularly if you have young children make sure your IT department has given you access to e-mails and voicemails from home. By keeping an eye on the e-mail traffic on your days off you can often nip a problem in the bud before it blows up into a full scale crisis.
4. Build up your formal and informal lines of communications
You are now not going to be in the office day in day out, and so you have to put proportionally more effort into making sure you are still ‘in the know’. Who can you regularly lunch with to find out what’s going on? Make sure your voicemail message and e-mail signature clearly states your working hours/days. Also, when you are on a day off make sure your out of office message is switched on.
5. Have a plan B
Your clients don’t always have needs which neatly can be solved on your working days. Make sure your colleagues are fully up-to-speed on your clients and the work you are doing for them. Have a nominated deputy or team member who your clients can speak to if you are off. Do let your team know a number that they can contact you on, for client emergencies.
6. Complete a handover
As you get ready to leave at the end of your working week, update colleagues on the progress/state of important work – plus anything that needs to get done in your absence.
7. Be assertive
If you are not assertive about when you work and when you don’t work, you will find yourself working full time hours, but only getting paid for part-time hours – and completing work on your days off. Of course, there will always be exceptions but if you are not upfront about your working days and when you can or can’t be physically or virtually at a meeting, you will soon find yourself working full time hours.
8. Get used to saying ‘no’
It’s very easy when work is being divvied up to take on as much work as your full time colleagues. Remember if you only working part time hours your output is not going to be at the same level as your full time colleagues. You may need to remind your colleagues of this, particularly if they are sharing out work equally between the team.