Life is one heck of a rollercoaster. Just when you think you’ve got a plan, a curveball hits you and your path changes in the blink of an eye. Your career is no different and as more of us are transitioning into part-time work, we ask ourselves how do we get the best of our reduced work schedule?
Transitioning into part-time work can sometimes be tricky. Firstly, the reason why can define whether or not reducing your work hours is plausible. Deciding that you need to work less may not match the need and capacity for the role you work in. For example, if you’re becoming a new parent, you’re entitled to be offered the same role, same hours and same benefits upon your return to work, but there is no obligation to find a reduced working based role for you.
approaching transitioning into part-time work
Transitioning into part-time work requires a certain strategy. Strategic thinking is needed in order to map out a successful path to achieve your goals.
The structure of how you approach your manager is key and depending on your goals in life and what you want to achieve in your career. Certain roles within a business may need full working hours – yours may be one of them? Find out the facts and also, consider the opportunities that your company provides to flexible working hours. For example, is a job share possible if the role you are in does require full working hours?
An honest and open approach will be needed in order to ensure a smooth outcome. It might be that you need to change roles to suit your personal and working life, whilst helping your company to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. If you can, prepare options – are you happy to move into an already vacant part-time role within the company that matches your skills? Providing possible solutions shows a commitment to your company and will benefit you longer term.
actually transitioning into part-time work
Once agreed, it’s time to make that move across from full-time to part-time work. Working part time, for whatever reason, is your choice and it doesn’t mean that you are no longer a valuable employee. Sometimes you can feel less valued because of your reduced hours, or get the feeling that you are never really achieving. You spend your day ploughing through a mountain of work but never really reach the things that you would like to spend more time on. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get that feeling of ‘purpose’ and productivity from your day’s work.
setting realistic objectives
In order for your transition across to part-time working hours to be as smooth as possible, you must ensure you set realistic objectives reflective of the time you will spend In the office. It would be unfair if you or your employer expected the same results from less time in the office.
Revise your goals every few months to ensure that you’re accurately tracking how your part-time role is progressing. This more agile approach allows for you to tweak and improve your working processes to reflect the time you spend in the office. Additionally, you can see if the part-time working hours are working for both you and your employer. For example, you may realise that you’re better off working fewer hours each day rather than fewer any because being in Monday to Friday proves to be beneficial for more effective communications between other teams.
make effective communication more effective
Your time is now more valuable than ever within the workplace, so your communication has to be clear. Ensure that you’ve communicated to others about your working days, routines and timelines. It’s imperative that they know ‘when is a good time’ to approach you with work or if they need help.
Your out of office is now an important tool in making colleagues aware of your working hours. Whilst you can communicate your working hours to everyone via email, you should also utilise this feature to reinforce your working hours to your colleagues.
now is the time to be assertive
If ever there was a need for assertive communication in the workplace, it would be now. Learning to say no in a positive manner will be important for you too. There is certainly no harm in saying no to tasks when you’re at capacity, but providing reasons why is imperative, so as to be sure not to create any friction with your colleagues. Again, use a more strategic approach when declining work/opportunities – you don’t want to do this every time as you may end up never being asked again and this will limit your opportunities within the company.
time management is now your best asset
Time management is a skill that you will need to perfect and fast. The ability to maximise your efficiency when managing your workload will be your biggest ally in the workplace.
Remember though, you cannot do it all. A little bit like ‘scope creep’ in project management, you need to ensure that the scope of your workload isn’t ‘creeping’ and getting unrealistic for you to achieve your goals. This is also where Steven Covey’s time management matrix will help you massively. This timeless time management strategy uses a four quadrant diagram to define tasks as;
- Urgent and important – needing your assistance and time as soon as possible.
- Important but not urgent – needs to be done at some stage.
- Urgent but not important – things like calls, interruptions etc. that crop up.
- Not urgent and not important – things you need to forget or delegate swiftly.
By using this matrix you can really harness your prioritisation skills and manage your workload more effectively.
Transitioning into part-time work doesn’t always have to be tricky. But developing these core skills will make the move much smoother than first thought. It’ll feel like you’ve always been ‘part-time’.