The pros and Cons of Working Part Time

the pros and cons of working part timeWorking part time is different for everyone with many variables – the work place, the individual, the manager, the team, the occupation and the industry. This post is based on my experience of working part time in a corporate marketing office enviroment.

I’ve been working part time since 2010 (less a year of mat leave) and one thing that’s become clear in that time is that working part time and being a parent is certainly not all about ladies who lunch and do coffee. It’s actually really challenging. Of course working full time and working full time and parenting also has its challenges, but today I thought I’d share my experiences by listing some pros and cons of working part time. Whatever your circumstances, it may help you or someone you know if you’re faced with the decision to go back to work part time or full time.

Let’s start with the cons first so we can end on a positive note shall we!

Cons

You are never ‘Off’

After a non work day, it’s likely you will be asked “how was your day off” pretty much every week by well meaning colleagues. Of course there’s no such thing as a day off when you’re a parent, and when you’re a part time working parent you are always on. For your kids, for your work. There’s no off switch. Ever! The constant stream of emails don’t stop on your days ‘off’, which are spent running errands, doing housework, grocery shopping, attending docs appointments, cooking, answering emails and taking calls when you can whilst attending to your child/children’s every need.

There are never enough hours in the day

A common one from all kinds of workers these days but perhaps more so for the part timers. There’s just never enough hours in the working days to get everything done and (depending on your role) it’s likely you will find yourself working nights and on weekends. Unfortunately it’s still fairly common to hear from friends and fellow part timers they are essentially expected to do 4 or 5 days work in 3. Sure you can do your old, 5 day a week job… in 3 days! Urghh… Higher workload = stress + exhaustion.

Childcare costs

Depending on your role and pay and how many children you have in daycare, you may just break even at the end of the day.

Well paying, professional part time roles are hard to come by

If you want a career or job change, depending on your vocation, it’s likely there just aren’t that many other part time roles out there. It’s much easier to negotiate part time conditions with your current employer than find a part time role with a new employer. Sure you need to go out and actively look and do the hard yards, but that takes energy that you probably don’t have because you’re working 4 or 5 days in 3 and running a household.

You will always feel like you are chasing your tail and playing catch up

The day after one of your ‘off’ days, you will spend the first hour playing catch up from what you missed on your ‘off’ day. And if someone schedules a meeting first thing, you will feel out of sorts all day. So you will usually jump online the night before, just to keep up.

It can be challenging to take your annual leave

If you only work 3 days per week, taking just 1 day off means you still have to get everything done but in 2 days. So you end up working nights anyway. I racked up 7 days in lieu for all the additional full days of work I did at a very busy time (because you have to be flexible), then struggled to take the days off, because I still had the same volume of work to deliver. This is why overseas holidays are a must. You’ve got to get out of the Timezone to get an actual break.

School holidays

One of the reasons I work part time is to take some pressure off during school holidays, and it certainly does take some pressure off. However, for me the busiest time at work clashes with school holidays so we end up paying for vacation care when I had intended to take some days off to spend with my children.

FOMO

You will miss all the office gossip. And something huge (like a company re-structure) will always go down on your non work days. You will also miss social things like Melbourne cup luncheons, Christmas parties, and colleagues farewells if they fall on your days out of the office. Doesn’t bother me these days but early on it did.

Dropping everything

You will often have to drop everything to go and pick up your kids. This will always be during an urgent meeting or when you’re right in the zone with your ideas flowing. Stop, pack up those crayons and hot step it outa there or you will struggle to pick up your kids by closing time.

No one will remember your actual work days

Even after working the same days for years, people still do not remember what my work and non work days and meetings are often scheduled on my non work days, usually at school pick up time. It’s an ongoing education process. I find putting your work days in your email signature and your message bank message helps.

You will be paid to to work a certain number of days even if you consistently do more

If you find you’re doing 5 days work in 3 days consistently, you’d be better off working full time for the full time pay, additional leave and extra super accrued.

You will feel that you are seen as being less committed than your fellow full timers

You just will!

Technology will be your best friend and your worst enemy

You love the flexibility technology offers you. I can watch my son at swimming lessons whilst answering urgent emails. But you will hate the flexibility technology offers you because you can never switch off. Ever.

You will feel guilty ALL THE TIME

Guilty leaving early. Guilty missing your kids Mother’s day morning tea/sports day/fundraiser at school/. Guilty that you don’t work as many days as your partner. Guilty when your kids are sick. Just Guilty! And guilty because you can feel like you are doing a lousy job both at work and at home.

Sheesh… that’s a lot of cons, and I’m sure there are probably more I could come up with, but of course, there are also some obvious pro’s to working part time…

Pros

Flexibility

I’m incredibly lucky that the company I work for supports Flexible working. Not just for parents, but flexibility is now the starting point of any role within the company. I love that I can attend school reading groups, do canteen duty, take my kids to swimming lessons, do the grocery shopping, do the laundry get the house in order and be with my children. And work from home when I need to. That is pretty freakin awesome!

You realise there’s a lot more to life than just work

Work is just something you do on certain days. It’s not who you are. There’s a whole world out there that happens while people are at work stuck in an air conditioned, fluro lit workplace… and it’s beautiful.

FOMO – but who cares!

Sure you miss out on all the office goss, but the upside to that is that you don’t have to partake in all that meaningless water cooler gossip. You simply won’t have the time.

You will get really good at saying No! – You simply have to in order to survive.

You will learn to prioritise like a pro – Even if you thought you were good at this before working part time!

Time to persue other activities and interests

I love that I can go to my favourite Ashtanga Yoga class on Friday mornings and spend some time blogging and jumping on the trampoline with my son on my non work days.

Reduced stress levels

If all goes to plan, and you actually work the hours/days you are paid to work, you may experience reduced stress levels as you have more time to focus on your health. I’m still working on this one!

Keep your skills up to date

The longer you spend out of the workforce, the harder it will be to get back in. Working part time allows you to keep growing your skill and knowledge base and keep up with your all important networks.

Saving money – You will save money on lunches, coffees and public transport.

Family

Sure there are many frustrating challenges to working part time, but for me personally this is the number 1 reason I put up with all of them and continue to work part time. My family, My loves. Quite simply, I get to spend more time with them which to me at this point in our lives is so precious.

 “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”― Brian Dyson

  Do you work part time? Do you also find it challenging? What are your pros and cons?

 Linking up to #IBOT with Essentially Jess

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50 thoughts on “The pros and Cons of Working Part Time

  1. I’ve never worked part time but I think you nailed it!
    I often found that the people around me who worked part time still pretty much had a full time job, they just had to fit it all into part time hours. Definitely efficient! And good time management.

  2. Yes, I work part-time and I agree with everything you’ve said. You describe my experience perfectly. What really gives me the irrits as I pack up work on a Wednesday afternoon is people saying ‘Enjoy the long weekend!’. Yeah right :)

    1. My pleasure Vicki. Its one of my fave quotes that I often come back to as a good reminder of what’s most important. xx

  3. Great points Shannon. There are similar challenges in self employment but eventually you get the hang of just deciding not to do any work during school holidays, for example, without feeling TOO guilty. Easier without a boss though! My sister is struggling with the part time thing right now. She’s got three kids and is contracted to work three days but it’s often four – or more. She loves her job too which I think makes it harder. She wants to be able to do everything!

    1. Oh yes.. I too love the role so can totally understand that! Glad you’ve got the hang of the self employed thing too lovely! xx

  4. I’ll be going back part time when my maternity leave is up (sob!) but building back up to full time over 3 or 4 months. We simply wouldn’t be able to afford for me to be part time long term at this stage which is unfortunate but my job is quite demanding and I think working it full time would stress me out less than doing it part time. Although right now I’m at the stage where I just want to win the lottery so I can stay home full time!

    1. Oh wouldn’t that be nice!! I totally agree some roles are less stressful at full time rather than part time. Enjoy mat leave while it lasts lovely. Such a precious time and so good that you are able to gradually work back up to full time. xx

  5. I’m on the opposite end of this Shannon. I don’t work – I’m a Stay at Home Mum and I have the major guilts because I don’t work. Now youngest is starting Kindy I’m itching to get back out there but jobs are limited where I live (rocks if you’re a teacher or a nurse though) so the school holidays would be an issue! I guess I’ll just have to put my Farmers Wife boots on and help out in the sheep yards – puke!! Haha! I’ll throw myself into school rosters etc! I envy you have a part time job that you enjoy and fits into your life so well! Well played

    1. Become the class parent Jo… its pretty much a part time job right there! ha!
      I think as mumma’s there’s guilt no matter what your situation. Its learning how to deal with it that’s key. xx

  6. I totally agree with your points Shannon. I worked part time for many years and I found I was doing 5 days work in 3, getting calls and emails on the days I was at home and I missed out on a lot of important meetings and information. The upside was that I got to spend more time with my kids are they were growing up than I would have if I’d worked full time, and that was really important to me. Oh, and yes, there’s DEFINITELY more to life than work!!

    1. Thanks Lyndall… so glad to know others share my perspective. And yes, so much more to life than work. Thanks for popping by. xx

  7. Part time is my goal for work, next year now. It was this year, but I’m going to do another year of full-time study to better skill me first.
    I found this very interesting. I’ve got lots to learn.

  8. Wow, this is amazingly comprehensive!! There were a lot more cons than I was expecting, so this was really interesting. I’d love to see it become a more available and more accepted mode of working for everyone – particularly when juggling those tough years of early parenting.

    1. Me too Mel. There are so few part time roles advertised. I’d love to see companies big and small considering it as a productive way of working. Xx

  9. I love working part-time, it fits in really well with my son and being pregnant. I work from home as a contractor and so I’m lucky that I don’t have some of those cons as I’m pretty much my own boss and can set my own hours and I don’t mind saying no. I work on my own so I don’t really miss out on anything. The major con for me is separating work from home because I work at home!

  10. This is so true. I agree with everything you said. I find it especially hard to keep up on days off especially with email. The flexibility is fantastic though when you have a young family. I love that quote!

  11. Nodding all the way through this post! You nailed it for sure. I’ve been mostly a full-time educator and went to part-time only in my semi-retirement years. I hear you on the ‘oh what days are you here again?’ And I I hear you on the ‘trying to work as if I am full-time when I am part-time’. However, I am glad to read of what the flexibility of part time work can give you and that is gold! Well-done. This post needs to be read by all who may be considering their work options. Thanks Shannon! Denyse #teamIBOT

    1. Thank you so much Denyse. Its so comforting to know that so many others agree with my cons and it’s not just me having a rant ;)
      Interesting also that we are in very different industries but still have similar experiences. Xx

    1. It’s one of my fave quotes ever. My old manager gave it to me in a career discussion and it’s stuck with me ever since. Xx

  12. I’d love to be able to work part time. I have been mostly part time for the past two years (not due to my choice) and I just can’t financially get by on part time being the sole income earner for the household. If I hadn’t been financially stressed I would have loved the spare time aspect of being part time.

    1. Yes it’s challenging from the financial perspective too Vanessa. Less income, less leave accrued and the big one… less Super at the end of the day. Xx

  13. I see those around me working part time plus being a parent and it doesnt seem to be any different to working a full time job. I have often considered going back into a workplace but the flexibility just isn’t there compared to working from home. The money isn’t consistent (because I am possibly not consistent, lol) but there are a few more cons there that I hadnt thought of. x

    1. It’s a shame that companies and organisations are missing out on having the best talent work for them because they don’t offer flexibility! It seems crazy! Xx

  14. This is a great post. Have been working three days a week for the last two years since returning from maternity leave. I didn’t return to the same role (not by choice) but to be honest, it has made it easier for me as my current role is less demanding. My company offers a range of flexible work options and there are no issues with working from home on occasion if I have to be there for whatever reason. If there’s something super fun happening on one of my off days, I will pop in to join the fun. Having two week days to be able to schedule appointments, do the grocery shopping (and let’s be real, fun shopping), catch up with other part-time friends and family etc is great. What’s not great is the part-time wage and leave accrual that goes with it!

    1. So glad it works so well for you Beth. My old manager had to come back to a different (lower) role as they wouldn’t let people managers be part time. And yes the less leave, less pay and less Super is a big con! Xx

  15. Yes, Yes, and Yes! Totally relate to everything you’ve said. I seem to remember we’ve had the discussion before! I love working part-time, and can’t imagine ever going back full-time even though we are nearing the end of high school. I love that PT work lets me participate in school life, while I still get to enjoy being a grown up ;)

    1. It’s so wonderful to be able to be part of the school community isn’t it Di! I hope I can continue to work part time for a while to come so I can be there during those important high school years too! Xx

  16. I can so relate to all of these pros and cons! I consider myself part time in all areas of my life! I work part time (4 days) in a busy law office in Melbourne CBD, I have 2 beautiful little boys (under 4) and I’m also running my blog as a business on the side. I don’t have an “off” button these days! But as you say, there are pros and cons. I always feel pulled in opposite directions, and in a constant state of guilt about not being enough! But overall I enjoy the challenge of being busy and balancing it all.

    1. Wow. That does sound crazy. I’m so glad it all works for you. As long as you are happy and doing things you love it all works out somehow doesnt it. As crazy as it is I probably wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks so much for popping by! Xx

  17. Working for myself is the way to go. When I worked part time I always resented the ‘intrusion’ to my weekly routine. Full time work sucked the life out of me and had me wishing for part time. It’s all about balance, not giving too much of yourself (leave some in reserve), saying no more often, valuing yourself and having a fulfilling life outside of work. It’s tricky.

    1. Huge yes to all those things Jen. After a ridiculous 2015, I’m trying to do them all this year. Still working on saying no more often though, it’s tough being a people pleaser! So glad you’ve found that balance you need working for yourself! xx

  18. Oh yes!!! I recognise myself in a lot of these!!! I work part time in an institute for disabled children and the other half is on my own office. So I don’t get any pros!!! haha!!! But this year as I’m on sabbatical I really enjoy working for myself, being flexible and have a nice holiday in Sydney haha! xx cathy

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