I Switched From Full Time Work To Part Time, Here’s How You Can Too

We’ve all been there: wondering why we’re tied to a desk when we wish we were somewhere else doing something else.

Have you ever wondered if you could finagle less time at your job so you could spend more time working on a side project? Maybe you want to start a side business, spend more time creating art, or are thinking of starting a family and want more flexibility in your hours.

No matter the reason, there’s hope! With some thoughtful planning and a little savings and dedication, you can negotiate hanging on to your current job while making space for another passion.

Here’s how I pulled it off.

#1 Know why you want this

My reasoning was simple. I needed to make more space in my schedule, as I was about to have my first child. I knew I didn’t want to work full-time but that I definitely wanted to continue working.

The key is knowing why you want the extra room in your schedule. If you pitch to your boss that you just want fewer hours in the office “just ‘cause” they’re probably not going to take you seriously.

Director at Robert Half Australia, Nicole Gorton, says, “Your first step is to do your research – what are your company’s policies towards transitioning from full-time to part-time work? The best approach is to provide a potential solution to manage not just the company’s expectations but also your own.”

“Will you be expected to deliver the same level of results but in reduced time? It is worth knowing that part-time work can be sliced and diced in many ways to make it work and be of mutual benefit.”

#2 Take a bird’s eye view

I examined my job title and what my company truly needed me to do. Put yourself in your manager’s shoes to be objective about the tasks that have to be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

#3 Divide & concur

Now for the fun part! Make a list of everything you do & divvy it up in order of likes & dislikes. What can you logically drop?

I ended up with a list of most of tasks I liked coupled with a few I didn’t love but knew were essential to my role. Then I typed it and polished it up, sectioning it off into what I proposed continuing doing and what I suggested be assigned to someone else.

Gorton says, “Part-time roles are increasing, and more and more companies are open to employing part-time workers and offering flexible work hours, such as remote ‘work from home’ access.”

“Organisations that are open to employing part-time workers and offering part-time to its employees stand to benefit as they are increasing their access to diverse skillsets and increasing tenure and morale, which results in increased efficiencies and outcomes.”

#4 Number crunch

OK, so you’re not going to make the same amount of money as you used to in this role. That’s a given because you’re pulling back on your hours.

Look at your lifestyle and budget. Can you afford to take a pay cut? Do you have decent savings? You’ll want a cushion soft enough to make you feel comfortable.

I made sure my husband and I could meet all our basic financial needs between our two incomes, put away some savings each month and have a little breathing room.

#5 Decide on your negotiating tools

Think about what’s most valuable to you. Is it the freedom of working remotely? Is it having Friday mornings off to work on a passion project?

Have some ideas ready so when your manager comes back with their thoughts, you’ll be more apt to creatively problem solve.

My biggest go-to item was the flexibility to create my own schedule when working remote (as long as I was always in the office at least two set days per week).

#6 Set up a meeting

Transparency is paramount. I was absolutely clear with what I’d like to continue with and what I’d like assigned to someone else. Feel free to use my favourite line when negotiating this transition: “Maybe we could hire an intern to do some of this type of work?”

Don’t expect an answer that day. And of course you might get a big fat no. (Like my friend did when he tried this.) It’s not foolproof: it’s a risk, but if you’re really passionate about a new endeavour, then it may be worth it!

“Having an open mind is critical to ascertain what is feasible from your perspective and from the organisations. The conversation you have with your manager needs to take into account whether or not your role can be done part-time – which all depends on your job description, KPIs and expected deliverables.”

“If the part-time transition is not feasible in your current role, then you may have to consider a different job within the organisation or looking for a part-time job elsewhere,” says Gorton.

Have your easy-to-read new job tasks proposal on hand and present your thoughts in a confident manner. At the end of your meeting, ask when your boss would like you to follow up. Mine was thrilled with my plan. Little had I known, he was concerned about his financial bottom line, so my transition helped him solve a problem I didn’t even know existed.

Good luck!

Emily O’Brien is a freelance lifestyle writer and editor from the States, and loves to blab about her life in Sydney on her blog