Do you work with colleagues who have chosen to work something less than full-time? Perhaps these colleagues are income packaging, combing paying gigs from multiple sources based on professional interests and a desire to keep a diverse work portfolio. Or maybe they have family commitments and priorities that require flexible or non-standard schedules to fit everything in. Maybe they have other additional interests, and choose to work part-time so they can reserve time and energy to invest in these avocations.
Whatever the reason for a colleague to choose to accept a part-time schedule, I can confidently say from experience that part-time workers represent an amazing value for employers.
6 Reasons That "Part-Timers By Choice" Are So Valuable:
1. No Slack Time: All of the part-timers by choice that I work with at my institution spend all their "work hours" actually working. Not going for coffee, not sitting and chit chatting, not going for a run in the middle of the day. When they are at work, they are either in meetings, working on their computers, or doing both at once. There is some maximum number of hours each day that anyone can be truly productive, the rest of the time is slack and re-charging. Part-timers take their slack time "off the clock" - and therefore may get as much done as their full-time counterparts.
2. Project Work: Most work can be broken down into operations and projects. Operations are ongoing. Projects have a definitive start and end date. Part-time employees excel at project work, because they can arrange the tasks to fit their schedules. A part-time employee focused on project related tasks is often an advantage, as this person can be less distracted by daily operations and can direct energy into the project. Since projects have a defined end-date, the full-time / part-time status of the project participants matters less, what mattes is the project quality and completion.
3. Presentation of Self: Part-timers cannot coast on being fixtures of the office culture. Much like tele-commuters, they need to demonstrate their value proposition to the team each day. They pay attention to how they are perceived, and work hard to follow through tasks, communicate progress, and meet expectations.
4. High Energy: Since a part-timer by choice is often choosing a more balanced life, they come to work with greater energy and resilience. The number of hours per week worked by household has steadily risen with the rise of dual-career couples and the increased rate of female labor force participation (particularly among women with young and school-aged kids). It is exhausting for everyone to meet the demands of the first (work) and second (home) shift. Part-timers by choice, of either gender, may be investing this work time in home tasks, and therefore may feel less strained, stressed and pulled at the office.
5. Digital and Mobile Communications: Part-timers are online, working remotely, and working mobile as much as anyone else. They might work part-time hours at the office, but in my experience they put in as many nights and weekend hours as everyone else. This may or may not be a good thing for our society (I happen to love my work and am happy to be able to blur the work/life boundary), but it is a reality.
6. Experienced and Judicious: In some deep sense, the people I know who have chosen to work part-time are very wise. They know that work lives are very long (and are likely to get longer as lifespans rise), and that pacing oneself is important. They have chosen perhaps to trade-off some income for time, in search of balance. They know that family is what really matters, and that we only have our kids for a brief time, or that it is part of the life cycle to take care of a parent or relative. They are making choices based on what is best for them and their families, not on their employer, and this makes them better and more internally motivated workers. Part-timers are a necessary and important part of a diverse team. We are lucky to work with them.
Are you a part-timer by choice?
MULTIPLE: President, Los Angeles Harbor College, President, Los Angeles Southwest College, President, Los Angeles Valley College