Part-Time Professionals: A Growing Trend

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Part TimeWhen you think of part-time work does the phrase “can I take your order?” come to mind?  If you wanted to work part-time 25 years ago an hourly, minimum wage job was probably your most likely option.  But it’s a whole new world out there.  More than thirty-two million U.S. employees work part-time and a growing number of them are mangers and professionals according to Lynn Berger, MA, EdM in her book The Savvy Part-Time Professional:  How to Land, Create, or Negotiate the Part-Time Job of Your Dreams.

A solution for working parents

Edith Murad, a veteran marketing manager, is one such professional.  After relocating from New Jersey to Georgia three years ago, Murad was able to turn her full-time job into a job share so that she was working just 22.5 hours a week.  Murad works from her home office in Georgia while her job share partner works from the company’s New Jersey location.  As a busy mother of two sons who are heavily involved in sports and other activities, this arrangement suits Murad perfectly. 

“I work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday full days,” Murad told TNJ.com in an interview. “And then my partner works Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We work on the same projects. Monday is the day I catch up on everything and get things rolling.  On Wednesday our overlap day is when I bring her up to date and we’ll handle something together and she takes over for the end of the week.”

Multiple streams of income

Working part-time is also an option if you already have a job, but would either like to make more money or just have a back up plan.  Should you lose your main job in this volatile economy, it’s comforting to know that you are still generating an income.  In addition working part-time can help you to explore a new field if you are considering a career change.

The beauty of part-time work is that it’s flexible with numerous options available that can fulfill unique lifestyle needs. “There’s no single definition of part-time work,” writes Berger. “It could mean working one hour a week or thirty hours a week.  It could mean working a flexible schedule, working part of the year, working as an independent contractor, or job sharing.”    

Employers are looking at results not hours clocked

Many people who want or need to work part-time will not pursue this option because they believe that their current positions are set in stone.  While it may not be easy to negotiate a non-traditional work arrangement, examples are everywhere.  According to the PBS documentary 9 to 5 No Longer there is a “workplace revolution” taking shape around the country.  While not all companies are offering more flexible schedules the documentary says that “the number of companies trying to stay on top of the trend toward workplace flexibility is growing every day.” 

An article by Michelle Conlin called Smashing the Clock which appeared in Business Week sited the electronics retailer, Best Buy, as a company on the forefront of transforming the culture of work as we know it.   Instead of judging employee’s effectiveness based on physical presence, Best Buy has a adopted a “results only work environment” where employees at the corporate level set their own schedules.

“Work is no longer a place where you go,” writes Conlin “but something you do.”

Berger writing in The Savvy Part-time Professional offers the following resources for more information:

The Project on Global Working Families:
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/globalworkingfamilies/
Take Back Your Time: www.timeday.org
Work Options: http://workoptions.com/jobshare.htm

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Part-Time work series on TNJ.com. In the next installment Murad talks about how to manage a part-time, work-at-home arrangement and more.