Making My Job Work For Me: How to Switch to Part Time

If a full-time job is too much but you still want a career, find out how to switch to part time -- from a working mom who pioneered part-time at her job.

It was the summer of 2005. I had just returned back to work after having my second child Zoe. Of course, like many moms, I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about going back to work. I liked my job. I liked getting out of the house and interacting with adults again. But now with two kids at home, it meant double the juggle and mostly—double the daycare cost.

It made me absolutely sick to see that about 55% of my net pay was going toward daycare.

I couldn’t afford to quit my job completely. The second income was desperately needed to help pay the bills. One thing was for sure—working full-time just wasn’t working. I knew I had to find a better option. We started crunching the numbers. My husband and I figured the best option was for me to stay home at least two days a week.

In order to convince my employer of a part-time schedule, I knew I would need to present a detailed plan. Right away I began searching the internet to figure out how to switch to part time. What I came across was a website called—a great resource for negotiating part-time, flextime, job sharing, or telecommuting. The website also offered a proposal template. I was wary at first, but then thought… what’s to lose? So I bought it.

After much preparation, I had a meeting with my two immediate supervisors, the head of my department, and the head of HR. I nervously went through my proposal, detailing:

  • My proposed new schedule—a work week totaling 30 hours (working in the office on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Thursday working from home, and off on Friday)
  • How my job responsibilities would be affected under the proposed schedule
  • How my salary would be adjusted—prorated to 75% of my full-time pay
  • A request to keep my benefits package—according to our employee handbook, an employee must work 30 hours a week to be eligible
  • Employer savings—an estimated number how much the cut of my salary and reduced 401K contributions would save them per year
  • A proposed three-month trial of this new schedule. After the trial period we would evaluate my schedule and determine whether to continue or modify my arrangement.
  • A list of positive feedback from managers and coworkers from past reviews
  • And lastly, two-pages of quotes from articles, reports, and studies detailing the benefits of offering flexible schedules for employers. (The WorkOptions proposal template was very helpful in this area—it comes with a wealth of resources.)

The first comment was the company had never offered part-time schedules before. HR would have to develop an official policy in case someone else came to them and said, “Hey, I want to go part-time, too.”

Another comment was concerning work-load. At the time work was slow, but they were forecasting a big jump in business. How would my part-time schedule affect the team? Because I was proposing a flexible schedule, I realized I would have to be flexible in return. If a week required more hours, or if I absolutely had to attend a meeting on one of my off days, I would do it. Full-time employees sometimes have to work overtime during those busy humps—and I would have to, too. Plus, with the three-month trial, we would be able to put my schedule to the test against busier times.

Eventually I was granted the three-month trial, which was extended to a six-month trial, and then was officially approved. An official policy was put in place. Now if an employee meets certain requirements, gets approval from immediate supervisors, and completes the application process they can be eligible for flexible schedules as well. I’m happy to say at least four other employees are now working part-time schedules and two are working remotely full-time.

I do realize I had two major factors in my favor.

First, I have a very supportive immediate supervisor—the very awesome WMAG pioneer, Susan. I felt very comfortable talking to her about my situation and she was a huge, HUGE ally in pushing for flexible schedules within our company.

Secondly, I work for an innovative, progressive ad agency who wants to retain talented, quality employees. They realize it’s the people who define the success of the agency. In order to attract top talent, they know they need to offer benefits like flexible scheduling. It was a goal to become “a best place to work.” Now our agency is recognized nationally as “One of the 25 Best Places to Work” by the Great Place to Work Institute®.

I hope my story inspires you to make your job work for you.

I encourage you to do your homework and check out as well as other resources on the web. I just discovered this U.S. Office of Personnel Management Part-Time Employment and Job Sharing Guide. Although this is targeted to federal government employees, the website has a lot of beneficial information you can pull from to help write a proposal, like why the use of part-time employment is beneficial to employers.

Lastly, remember it’s your career and your life. It’s up to you to make it work, whether it’s with your current employer or with a new opportunity. The working mom can achieve anything she puts her heart, soul, and mind to. I know it.

13 thoughts on “Making My Job Work For Me: How to Switch to Part Time

  1. Cara,

    I am so glad I was able to help you make your job work for you. We could have lost a very valuable contributor to the company if we hadn’t found a way to be more flexible and meet your needs. As I’ve said before, it has worked out so well thanks to your efforts. And even better, you paved the way for other working moms to make their jobs work for them. Congrats to you!

  2. Excellent post, Cara. You really are an inspiration!! And Susan rocks as well. I love that I can work with women who understand so well what it’s like to be an employee with kids, and I’m grateful to work for a company that is so family-friendly and flexible. I work hard to make it clear that this kind of schedule can work and to minimize the effects on my team, and I know you do, too. You’re a real trailblazer. Thanks to you, to Susan, and to all the others at our company who have made this arrangement possible.

  3. Thanks for the info! I want to go part-time when my oldest starts school so that I can be home when she gets home from school. This information will really help.

  4. I can’t thank Sue and Cara enough for paving the way to part-time employment at our work. You really did your homework, Cara. I had no idea all that you did!

  5. Cara,
    Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story with such a GREAT outcome. I worked for a well-known company that was all talk about being “family-friendly”. After having my first child, I went back part-time for a while and then was “forced” to take a contract position which then led to no employment at all when again, I felt I was forced to choose between my baby (second child) or my career. After being out of the workforce for a year, I’m looking into opportunities to work freelance. Thanks for showing that it is possible to have a family AND a career.

  6. Pat Katepoo says:

    Cara, The best Flex Success stories are the ones where the user is the first one to negotiate a flexible work arrangement, paving the way for others to follow. What you did ultimately benefited several families, and I’m thrilled to know it. Pat Katepoo, Founder,

  7. meauxjeaux says:

    great story and very inspirational. i’m not a mom yet, but in 6 months, i’ll be facing all these challenges. thanks for all the wonderful info and resources to help me figure out what will work for me and my family when the time comes. i’m proud of your initiative!

  8. I was just checking out the blog while I was party hopping. I wish that the ad agency I worked for when I had my first would have valued me — I wrote about it on my blog. Anyway, glad you were able to work it out and have enjoyed the blog.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Cara, you wrote an excellent post here! I unfortunately had problems with my previous employer because I requested to work part-time for 5 months after my baby was born; they accepted it but harassed me in parallel. I had to resign from my position because of that!
    Your article is an inspiration; I wish I read it when I was still employed…

  10. Thank you so much for this, it was super-helpful as I’m trying to write a part-time proposal myself.

  11. Thank you for sharing! I am not a mom… but I am looking for a more flexible schedule to build up my side business, Life Coaching. I appreciate you sharing your experience and knowledge! I’m hoping to make the proposal next week!!

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