How to Switch to Part-Time Work

Make a seamless transition into a more flexible schedule.

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Lindsay Olson
Once upon a time, part-time jobs were what you took if you were unskilled or unable to secure a full-time job. But now, with an increase in the number of flexible roles in the workforce, we're seeing professionals step out of their 40-plus hours a week jobs in favor of part-time work. If you're interested in moving from full-time to part-time, this post will help you make your case to your boss.

1. First, assess your reason. We'd all love to work less and make more, but consider what your real reasons are for wanting to work part-time. Do you want to spend more time with your family? Are you finding your current workload overwhelming? Maybe you're going back to school and need extra time for class and homework. Or are you starting a business you want to focus on? Understanding your motivation for moving into part-time work can help you better convince your boss that he should consider it. And knowing whether going part-time would be temporary or permanent will also help him decide.

2. Next, know your data. While your boss might use the information you show him to make his decision, it will help you make your point that part-time jobs are on the rise. Approximately 25 percent of all working women in the United States work part-time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Find data that backs up your points, and if possible, find someone who successfully works part-time in your company to interview.

Studies also show that workers who are in the office half of the time can be as productive, if not more so, than their full-time counterparts, possibly because they have less time to get more done, and don't waste time at the water cooler.

3. Outline what part-time would look like. Part-time jobs can be 20 hours a week, or 30. They can be half day, five days a week, or two days in the office at full throttle. They can be worked in the office or at home. Devise a plan for your ideal situation, and then another that you'd be satisfied with, should your boss not bite on the ideal plan.

Consider the work you won't be able to get done. You could propose hiring another part-timer for the other half of your workload, or advocate to distribute the work amongst your co-workers (an idea they won't be excited about).

4. Prepare your pitch. Your boss will want reassurance that you'll be as productive and accessible as you've been in the past. Have answers ready about your availability: You'll be available via chat or phone during specific hours, and you'll respond to emails within 24 hours. Find the balance that will make him feel like he's winning in cutting your salary but still getting the benefit of being able to access you, while you get the benefit of working less.

Schedule a time to discuss your part-time proposal; don't accost your boss in the hallway in between meetings. You need his or her undivided attention, and you need to be able to pitch your idea professionally. Keep your emotions and personal woes out of it. Focus on how working part-time will help both you and the company.

If your company is hesitant about signing off on the idea, propose a trial period of three months. If they agree to this, do your best to show them how well the scenario can work.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.