- Going (slightly) part time – any experiences?
I’m 39 and very close to requesting a four day week. In reality, because of the job I do (national travel), it will probably amount to me asking for a change to 0.9 whole time equivalent over 4 days.
Ok – that’s really no big deal compared to some people who work fewer hours, but it would be a big step for me as I’ve always been career-focused.
So… I’m finding it very hard to actually take the step. The main downside I perceive for me would be colleagues thinking that I’d “given up” on career aspirations. I certainly wouldn’t be… but unfortunately the catalyst / coincidence is a senior job that I am being encouraged to apply for that wouldn’t be doable on anything less than full time, involving more time away from home.
To help me decide, I did a “wheel of life”. This seems to be a fairly common coaching tool found quite easily on Google. Mine helped me lay out quite clearly what my inner thoughts had been telling me for some time: which is that I want to spend more time on things outside work.
Put another way, a 4-day week / 3-day weekend would give me a 50% increase in free time. As a family man of 39 years old, that’s hugely attractive.
More leisure / biking
Time to develop personally (e.g. taking up charitable roles)
Strengthened relationships; my parents are quite vulnerable as I noted in an older thread
Slightly lower pay, pension – possibly working longer than planned
Slower / no progression, depending on my / employer’s outlook
May end up doing same work in fewer hours (a common part-time curse)
Colleagues’ / senior perceptions
As always, these are all personal situations and decisions and I know only I can decide what works for me… but do you have any experiences to share?Posted 8 months ago
Work sucks and is almost never worth it. Other than to pay the bills that make life possible, that is.
I have been brought up through the ranks, and now find myself among senior management. Would I do it again? No. Do I think I made some wrong decisions, and should have stayed doing the stuff that actually means something? Yes.
As of this past week, I am officially .8, and by the end of the academic year, plan on being 0. “Career” be damned. As long as I can pay my mortgage, I would rather work at a bookshop.
EDIT: I should add that I am not being callous. All the possible downsides you mention, I could mention as well. My pension will be seriously affected, I will drop from a high salary to a lower one (and eventually none at all), and colleagues think I’m crazy.
Oh well.Posted 8 months ago
My perception is that in some way there has to be a group of folk exactly like yourself that aren’t interested in climbing the greasy pole, but content to doing your assigned role very competently. I seem to recall that my cousin, an anaesthetist, elected at some point in his career to go down the staff role (not sure of the terms here) rather than full consultant career. He’s pretty happy with his job, and given the number of folk promoted beyond their capability, surely has some merit.
I ended up being a team leader / project manager role and it damn near broke me. Luckily I got made redundant before I departed of my own volition.Posted 8 months ago
Do it Ben! I’m thinking of the same sort of thing, as I’m spending more and more time in hospital and am frankly unlikely to make it to retirement. Just working out if I can afford it. The problem with only dropping one day is that I’m not sure my role would actually change much…Posted 8 months ago
I went four days a week 4 or so years ago. Within the company where I work this hasn’t presented any issues.
What it has meant is that any opportunities that have come up from other employers have been unworkable, as they won’t take someone on part time for a role at the same level I am at. I have made a conscious decision to put life before career so this is a minor issue, but if I was set on moving on up the ladder I would be struggling.
3 day weekends are awesome. I’m thinking about requesting a drop to 3 1/2 days next year for a more balanced week 😀Posted 8 months ago
Thanks all – and hope you are getting better, Ian!
I became fairly senior (one-down from Board in large organisations) in my late 20s / early 30s and have been at the same level, albeit rotating around since. The next level involves staying away from home more, which I don’t want.
I’ve been crunching the numbers and we can “afford” it… it’s just the list of downsides including doing the same work in 4 days!Posted 8 months ago
Slightly lower pay, pension – possibly working longer than planned
Around this “negative”, what I’d say is get the time now and enjoy it. Don’t wait until your 70 to enjoy life. Work a few extra years and enjoy the time while your family is young.Posted 8 months ago
I guess it all hinges on your boss and company. Do your current job “fit” inside a normal 40 hour week, or do you have to put in more time outside that? Do you have enough autonomy to decide which things can wait a few days rather than needing doing now? If you take a random day off (maybe to get something done in the house) do you end up fielding calls or answering emails anyway?
If you can’t do that now then going 4 days just means getting 4/5 salary for almost as much work. I’d stay put on 5 days but aim to shrink others’ expectations so you achieve some of what you’re after way before any 4 day week conversation.
No real way to avoid the perception that you’ve given up striving for ever more senior jobs, although IME there’s not a lot wrong with that. I gave up years ago, no real progression anyway unless I really want to change the kind of work I do. Nothing wrong with being a steady, reliable, knowledgeable worker within the limits you set. I also switched roles to avoid travel entirely, so while going 4 or fewer days was an ambition for a while, WFH 5 days a week actually gives more quality at home and with the kids, easy to get house bits done or go for a run at lunch, etc.Posted 8 months ago
it’s just the list of downsides including doing the same work in 4 days!
So long as you don’t end up doing unpaid overtime I don’t see the issue with this one. My productivity is much much higher in my first four hours at work and would probably be even higher if I knew I was going home at 13:00.
Is it just because it will feel like you are giving away something for free?Posted 8 months ago
Are you, or are you likely to be a global expert in your field?
If the answer is no, you know what to do.
Do you really care what others at work think?Posted 8 months ago
Do you spend time with them outside of work?
If the answer is no, you know what to do.
Even with marvellous advances in medicine, your pension/retirement is far from guaranteed – live for nowPosted 8 months ago
Last Jan I went to an alternate 4/5 day week, to give me more time to do what I want to do rather than what I’m paid to do. I’ve loved it so next year I’m intending to drop that to 4 days every week. I’m 54, so at a different life stage to you but I’m now on a glide path to retirement -I can see it dropping to 3 days a week within a couple of years as long as my employers will wear it.Posted 8 months ago
Ive been 75% Part Time for 8 years and will be going 50% in a few years. I love my job (airline captain) but full time is just too much. Ive never regretted it for a second.
It sounds like you are a Higher Tax Rate earner, so a 20% reduction will only see a @13% take home pay reduction.Posted 8 months ago
As I look around my office, I doubt even 50% of people are actual FTE’s. I’ve no idea what each individuals contract is, nor their core working hours. It doesn’t matter one iota to me or any of my colleagues. I’ve no experience of this having a detrimental affect on anyone’s career.
Fortunately, the work environment is evolving rapidly and giving good staff the right work:life balance is increasingly important to employers.Posted 8 months ago
Not quite the same, but I am 55 and am lucky enough to have retired 4 years ago. I did do some part time work for a while, but this has pretty much petered out through choice. My wife still works so I am a house husband, and so do all the cooking, cleaning etc. which I’m fine with. The biggest difficulty for me was feeling guilty about not working and worrying too much about other people’s perceptions that I had given up on life and spent my time watching daytime TV. I got fed up with the puzzled question “but what do you do all day”? Usually asked by one dimensional characters with no imagination, zero hobbies and interests for whom work was their whole existence. Instead of explaining, my go to answer is “whatever the **** I want”. The truth is, apart from the aforementioned housework, I go to the gym, ride my mountain bike and motorbike, potter in my workshop, make beer, go shooting, visit my friends and family a lot more often and generally enjoy a happy and stress free life. I have got over my guilt and now don’t give a toss if people think working until you keel over is daft. I know I am incredibly lucky and realise a huge number of people would love do what I am but can’t.Posted 8 months ago
I did it back in February. I chose to do it because I’d just been promoted and as such it only represented a very slight drop in take home pay. I’m 36.
I’ve just got back from a nice 4 hour ride with a cafe stop. I have a good friend who also has mondays off (GP).
The future promotion thing wasn’t an issue. My next jump would be to departmental mananager. There is more than enough scope to develop in my role and the next promotion moves you out of the frontline science which is what I enjoy. There are plenty of other people in the company who do it, 3 of us out of a team of 6 at my level work reduced hours so it is seen as relatively normal. Also as we are not always in the office, either meetings, lab work, off site, holiday etc. it isn’t actually that noticeable as to who is in and who isn’t. My core job can easily be done in 4 days. I’ve had to lengthen a few project timelines but what I managed to do was drop all the extra stuff. No bad thing if I’m honest – personally it was the tedious stuff I got rid of. There were plenty of junior staff happy to take on managerial tasks to show willing and competence so not too hard to back fill.
In all honesty, it is brilliant. Absolutely the best thing I’ve done work wise. I’m happier, healthier more relaxed. If you can afford it, do it.Posted 8 months ago
i’e been on 4 days since 2008. Its great. I’m 43.
no one is bothered – clients eventually cotton on that you are not in and the world keeps turning.
I do occasionally come in for a thursday if necessary or i need to go to a meeting but i either get paid or have time in lieu. I dont mind – i try and coincide these extra work days with when its raining and going out biking would be crap or i cant work on the van.
that said the biggest and best change for me was moving jobs 3yrs ago – so much less stress its silly.Posted 8 months ago
In many companies the senior management and executives are working 3 or 4 days a week – because they have other group company responsibilities. It doesn’t seem to indicate any lack of commitment on their part.Posted 8 months ago
In a heartbeat. Do it. You’ll probably find you get as much work done anyway. I wouldn’t worry about the retirement fund. Working less will probably make you appreciate living on less anywayPosted 8 months ago
Our whole firm is on 4 day working due to lack of orders. About 6 weeks in and it is absolutely great for me, and most colleagues. Our family has 2 decent wages coming in so financially the drop in income is not putting us in any trouble. A 3 day weekend gives me time to get on with jobs and projects at home that I just can’t find time for in a normal weekend.I can do this stuff on Fridays and have a clear 2 day weekend without having to fit the rubbish jobs in. So many things are easier and quicker on a Friday than Saturday think haircuts and shopping in general, getting the car serviced, bank stuff.Posted 8 months ago
It feels like I have my life back.
I dropped to 4 days per week at the start of this year, coinciding with wife going back part time after maternity leave. I’m early 30s.
Hugely recommend it. I actually got a very positive reaction from others in the office (nobody else works part time). Comments along the lines of “what an excellent example to set for everyone”.
Helps to have an employer looking to set a positive image – I was ready for an argument with work when requesting it but never met any resistance at all. Assuming you are male, there is a big gender pay gap argument for doing it, in order to normalise the idea that it isn’t the woman’s job to stay home with kids. I might expect to only progress my career at 4/5ths of the speed but no less.
You are giving up 20% of gross pay (less than that net pay) for 50% more weekend. Do it.Posted 8 months ago
I just increased to 3 days a week, bit stressfulPosted 8 months ago
Went down to 4 days 3 years ago now, best thing I ever did!
It does depend upon your job but as mine is as a specialist courier (NOT multi-drop parcels) then as long as someone shows up to do the job it’s all fine. It helped that my contract specifies 4-5 days with a minimum of 39 hours, seeing as most days are 10+ then working 4 means I actually get full basic pay plus a bit of overtime. I can pick up the odd extra day a month too if I want it. If I was working 5 days all the time I could add an extra 4-5k on my basic salary but the extra day is worth more than that to me. Having a guaranteed day off midweek is so good, you get so much more done than on a weekend. As my job is 24/7 I usually get a few weeks where I get 2 days off midweek in a row meaning I can have a cheeky 2 day bike trip away from all the crowds if I want and the weather plays ball. Haven’t done that for a while as I’m currently having to help look after my elderly and sick parents but it’s still massively beneficial as I can cover the days my sister can’t do (she works standard office hours and has a young family) and still get a day’s biking in. I have no idea how I would have coped these last few months without that extra day to utilise every week.
If you can afford the drop in wages and work are amenable to the change then do it. Life is far too short to spend it working all the time.Posted 8 months ago
I applied for 70% the verbal counter offer was 80% and having my pick off day. Can’t wait for the paperwork to sign quickly. 6 months trial though but can’t wait for feb 1st. Life’s to short to stay at work If you rather be somewhere else and can afford it.
I don’t hate my job I actually enjoy what I do its just I enjoy other stuff even more.Posted 8 months ago
“Career” be damned. As long as I can pay my mortgage, I would rather work at a bookshop.
So very much this. Too much is placed on ‘career’ and ‘doing well’. Life is short and you’re here once- do you really want to spend the active years of your life working instead of playing?Posted 8 months ago
The old mantra of work to live not live to work applies here – if you can live comfortably on a reduced salary and get some you/family time back then it seems a no brainer. Unless further career advancement gets you to a role you actually enjoy doing then once you advance to a role with a salary that supports how you want to live then personally I wouldn’t care less about going higher up the chain. Seniority usually comes with more bullshit and employer expectations anyway.Posted 8 months ago
Gone part time.
To spend time with children.
They are only children once.
Lived with my old man growing up. He worked away a lot. Left us with stepmother. She’s ok but it’s not the same. I have neither a close relationship with either my mother or father.
Investing time in my kids will hopefully mean we can be close when they do grow up, have pint, go ride some trails etc. If not, at least I’ve tried and been there for them.
As for career. Meh. Don’t care at the moment. I go to work to simply earn money to pay bills and afford days out/holidays.
I could work full time and more but I’m only here once, why do I want to do that?
Also demoted myself out of choice in my job to give me chance to relax.
Currently average 30 hours a week and making reasonable money. Wife works 28 hours. Not sure I ever want to go full time ever again.Posted 8 months ago
All the money in the world can’t buy you an extra day with your loved ones when your time is up.Posted 8 months ago
I’ve been 4 days since going back after 3 months shared parental leave. It was supposed to be temporary until she was 2, now it’s until she goes to school next year. Even then, massively tempted to continue 4 days. I am also concerned about pension and lack of money for big stuff like holidays, but I also do t feel the need and it satisfies/ forces my environmental concerns of not flying or buying loads of crap.Posted 8 months ago
All that said, I have a job interview coming up and I’m not sure they’ll go for it as part time. I have about 6 months left of Mondays with my girl and not sure a pay rise justifies losing out on that. It’s going to be hard when she goes to school 🥺
I inadvertently did what you’re consciously considering when I moved my family from SE commuter-land to the Quantocks
I think there was a perception that I wasn’t as committed as I once was – which was probably true, in as much as I didn’t want to go above and beyond to the extent that I had. Unfortunately, the leadership where I was working was a bit of an all or nothing culture and this very shortly afterwards led to a fairly amicable parting of the ways.
I now work in a much smaller, socially minded business. I have more control of my own schedule and more family time. I miss financial security and the peace of mind it brings and I hadn’t appreciated what that was worth to me until I lost it.
I wish I had been able to negotiate a reduced hours package with my previous employer when we parted ways (I tried but they weren’t interested) as I think it would have been the best of both worlds – provided the workplace culture is right
In summary, for it to work – they need to be happy for it to work tooPosted 8 months ago
Thanks to all the contributors above for your inspirational stories – you have convinced me to really push for a reduction in hours when I land with my new employer in February.Posted 8 months ago
Also important to note that a one day cut in days =/ a 20% drop in money in your hand.
The tax free allowance makes up a bigger part of your salary, so it’s only a 12% cut or so (Depends on your wage of course).
You also save a lot by having time. Time to cook meals to take to work or fix things yourself – so you don’t pay extra for services that you previously needed because you didn’t have time to do things yourself.Posted 8 months ago
Seriously considering this for the future – 0.9 or even full time over 4 days. I’m actually getting an assistant soon, which would for the first time in 14 years make this an option. Even though we have flexible working, my role requires me to be there all the time – days off are an email catch up nightmare though.
Only recently has one of the comparable roles got someone in that’s 4 days, so that’s set the president as previously, the group of 6 of us were all required 100%. We’ve gt folk with no commitments doing 5 days compressed into 4. 4 days of 0.9 would be good though.
My kids are older now, so it would be ‘me time’.Posted 8 months ago
or even full time over 4 days
This is what I’ve moved to, I do a full week of hours Monday – Thursday, 7am-6pm each day. I work from home at least 3 of those 4 days, if I had to go in every day then I’m sure I’d be doing it. The day I do in the office feels like a looong day. I really like the 3 day weekend though, it means I can lounge around and have a day of not doing much whilst feeling that I haven’t wasted half of my weekend. On the flipside if you have a bit of an off day whilst working then you really notice it as it’s 1/4 of the week gone rather than a 1/5.
I’d have probably just asked for a straight up 4 day week (rather than the 5 in 4) but I’m not keen on taking a pay cut just yet, once my mortgage is gone then I’ll probably cut back.Posted 8 months ago
I’ve gone to a 4 day week. By adding an hour to each day I am working, it’s only cost me 10%.
Like many others have already posted the extra full day to do as you please each week makes a big difference to how you feel about life.
I will probably consider dropping that extra hour too sometime in the future, but for now it works for me and the company.Posted 8 months ago
From late 2004 to mid 2009, I worked 35 hours Mon-Fri plus unpaid lunch break, it left me absolutely drained to do anything outside work most of the time.
Since late 2009, I’ve been a part time postie, initially 4.5 hours a day plus overtime five days a week. Typically ended up doing 35 hour, which again left me exhausted outside of work.
But since 2012, I’ve had my 22.5/ now 23 hours a week over three days, starting at 0630/0700 depending upon the day. For almost two years I’ve had a rota where I get Thurs-Mon inclusive off every four weeks. I’m not a morning person, especially in the winter months (SAD), but having more full days off really helps me make more of my life outside work, especially over the last few years when I’ve taken up recreational/training road cycling.
Money is tight and thankfully my better half works too these days, but mentally the changes have improved my quality of life immensely compared to 2004-2012.Posted 8 months ago
 just paid attention and saw you’re heading to a new employer. Great! Negotiate for as much as you can and always ask if they can do more. [/edit]
See if rather than going part time your employer will support extra, unpaid, leave. Consider the tax, benefit, and earnings implications with your part time proposal against the relative benefits of unpaid leave of 1 day a week for, say, a six month period.
employers often try and take with as many hands as they can muster with part time changes: salary, holidays, benefits. And they often expect disproportionate overtime/free work commitments from part timers.
Good luck. And enjoy filling those extra daysPosted 8 months ago
Only you can answer this question… it’s totally speculative but imagine looking back at this not forwards.
When you are on your death bed and look back which choice do you think you should have made?
When you do retire is what you achieved at work going to be a big part of your identity/self esteem?
Would this be different if you slide off a greasy pole now rather than later? Sounds like you already achieved a lot… would the potential rest make it different?
What financial differences will it make now and to your pension and how will those affect your quality of life?
A bit morbid but what if for whatever reason you don’t get to pension age or it’s shorter than you plan OR more optimistically you get to pension age and have found something different you don’t want to retire from even if you don’t technically need the income ?Posted 8 months ago
I’ve done the same as the OP. Standard working week at my place is 35 hrs. I do 32, initially compressed over 4 days but now over 5 (3 full days/2 half days). Primarily for childcare (school run twice a week) and also because I didn’t want to become a weekend dad.
It generally works ok from a work perspective. My work load hasn’t decreased at all despite being ‘part time’ (surprise surprise), my holiday entitlement is reduce pro-rata, but I’m actually better off because I tend to take more half days off (but get a full day off if you see what I mean). Salary is obviously less, but I’m higher tax so it’s not as big an impact as it could be. Pension wise, I’m not concerned – I’ll make it up later.
It’s a bit of a hurdle to promotion, but I’m middle management now and have no desire to move up to senior management. Not in the the next 5-10 years anyway.
I’d recommend it. No one ever said on their death bed they’d wish they’d worked more….Posted 8 months ago
I’m slightly fortunate with my employer in that they ‘front load’ the week so we only have to do a 4 hour Friday. On top of that they reward us as employees if you don’t have a sick day they give us an extra 4 hours holiday a month (which you can use on the Friday to take the day off). It’s kind of the best of both in that there isn’t a salary drop & I’m gone by 12 on a Friday every week, and have the whole day off once a month if I want to. Or I bank them & work a 4 day week through December.
It works really well, it’s essentially an extra 12 days holiday a year, and with a bit of careful/clever planning you can have some great extended breaks.
If I ever leave, going back to a set Monday to Friday and being in an office until 5pm on the Friday is going to require serious consideration. Employers should do more like this to value their staff IMO – happy people work harder on the whole & are less likely to leave.Posted 8 months ago
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