How to be a good part-time worker

by beagoodmom on February 4, 2007

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I work part-time for a company that usually does not offer such work schedules. I had been in my position about a year when the twins were born. I took a 4.5 month maternity leave and then asked to come back part-time. It was a bold move, no one had ever done it before. They agreed. I now work 3 days a week, just under 20 hours total. Working part time was my idea, but the “just under 20 hours” was theirs. By working 19.5 hours a week rather than 20 or 21 means I do not count in the big corporate head-count. Its a Human Resources issue, important to them, but not a big deal for me. Now, 4 years later, I am still working the same schedule and its going great.

I have a few tips for making a situation like this work for you:

1. Be flexible. I work 3 set days a week, but I will switch my schedule to attend meetings or training classes.

2. Don’t gloat. I don’t hide the fact that I work part-time, but I also do not advertise it. A lot of my co-workers would love to work less, but can’t/won’t for any number of reasons. Lets face it, working part time is everyone’s dream, but few people can afford to give up half their income.

3. Be disciplined. On a working day, I always show up on time and therefore I don’t feel guilty leaving on time. I update my voice mail when I am out. When I am at work, I do work. I do not call home to check in on the kids unless its necessary. I make personal phone calls only on my lunch hour. I also do not make business phone calls on my home days. I do not check email. I do not call in. In the 4 years I have been working at home, I closed one deal on a home day and I had to do it from the guest bathroom because the kids were following me around the house asking what I was doing. Even they knew it was odd to see me talking business on a home day. They were fascinated by it.

4. Be polite. I always alert someone when I will not be in on my usual day.

5. Go the extra mile. I try to anticipate things that might come up on a day I am not in the office. I make a contingency plan and try to think one step ahead so that no one misses me when I am gone. When one of my agents asks about my part-time schedule I always say, “If I do my job right, you won’t need me the other 2 days of the week anyway.”

6. Be friendly. Everyone in my office knows I work part-time. No one resents it. They all know I do it for my kids. So, why not give them a little dog and pony show so they continue to understand why its so important to me? I take the kids in to the office in their Halloween costumes, I tell funny stories about the kids, I bring in lopsided cupcakes that the kids made, Maybe they are just humoring me, but I don’t think so. I think hearing a story about the time Pookie got locked in the car at the mall is just the right thing to take their minds off the drudgery of work.

7. Be visible. I volunteer for a lot of special projects. I am always careful not to take on too much, but I do try and make myself important around the office.

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