I have been a part-time worker for almost three months now. People working a shorter week had never bothered me in my pre-Motherhood existence and I have anyways found it easy to schedule things in with a bit of thought and planning. I am now experiencing the reactions of others first hand though and it has been quite interesting; Most colleagues are happy to embrace and accommodate my working hours whilst some aren’t bothered by it but just forget my different availability and sometimes end up with some last-minute organisational challenges. But then very occasionally I get more extreme reaction where the annoyance fact that I’m not always available is visible on someone’s face. I’ve also been subjected to various comments, some jovial and others serious, such as “Enjoy your day off!”, “Hmm, yes it’s a bit inflexible.” and so on. It made me think about some pre-conceptions I feel many people have about part-time working. So for those of you out there who work with colleagues on part-time hours, here are some points to bear in mind:
- Part-timers do not have “days off” every week, they have non-working days. When I take Annual Leave I am taking a day-off work and am paid. However, I am not contracted to work on Mondays and Fridays so I am consequently not being paid which in I my mind does not constitute a day off.
- Just because someone works part-time, it doesn’t mean they have kids. Sure a lot do and in my case that’s why I went part-time. But I know people who’ve gone to 4 days a week because they wanted more time to pursue a hobby or do a qualification.
- Part-timers are not inflexible people. In fact they are likely to be the most flexible (and productive!)…within the boundaries of their working hours. I’ve had several people make off-the-cuff remarks about my new hours being a bit inflexible. Actually I reliably work those hours and am completely free to flex what I do in those windows. At least once a week I have to do some ‘mop-up’ work at home to finish the week so I can be available in the office. Most part-timers reliably work the same hours week on week so with a little bit of forward planning it can work really well.
- Part-time workers are usually busy doing things on their non-working days. On my non-working days I barely sit down. Childcare aside, I have to get chores done and go out to give H sufficient levels of stimulations (walks, ‘play dates’ etc.). So when on rare occasions people ask me to look at something work related, or swap my working day, it’s not something I can easily commit to. I will always try and do my best with the limited nap time I have, but beyond that there is a lot of expense and upheaval to a child that thrives on routine. I’m sure every other part-timer is equally as busy.
- Just because someone works part-time, it doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy their work. The normal ups-and-downs of work aside, I have almost always enjoyed my job. That remains true now I am back from Maternity Leave; Even more so perhaps because going back meant putting H in to nursery which wasn’t a decision we took lightly. I am still committed and I am still driven, but life is about balance so for me having time at home was more important. But when I am at work, I am there and focused; Likewise when I am at home.
I’ve read various articles around flexible working, part-time working and working Mothers. Unfortunately I neglected to save links to many of them, but here are a couple I found interesting enough to actually bookmark: