Deciding to reduce your hours can be an anxiety-inducing decision. But could it also be the best decision that you ever make?
Once seen as the reserve of women juggling childcare, part-time work has had a revamp. Working fewer hours is on the rise, with working part-time, and many women reporting reducing their time in the office to retrain, study or focus on a side-hustle.
Of course, the picture isn’t completely rosy for part-time work. Research suggests that women do a staggering 60% more unpaid work than men, and that parents who are half as likely to be promoted compared to their full-time counterparts. For many women the decision to go part-time is not financially feasible, whilst for others part-time work is their only option as they are saddled with , and unpaid labour.
But for some women, part-time work has been a positive career move. These women are changing the narrative of part-time workers, proving that cutting back your hours can actually benefit your work. They’ve upskilled, built new networks and even launched their own businesses. They want to prove that going part-time could be the best career move you ever make.
Sophia Husbands, 41, Trainer, Consultant and Founder of The Go Getter
I decided that permanent work wasn’t for me after I was made redundant and lost my father due to Alzheimer’s back in 2007. Losing a parent puts into perspective how short life is, and how important it is to follow your dreams. I decided that I would focus on finding freelance or part-time jobs so that I could make sure that I was doing work that I enjoy, and have more autonomy in my career.
I initially took an interim job and did side-hustles in my free time, but after spending some time living and working in the Netherlands I found myself out of work. I started to help my friend on a part-time basis with her company, which gave me a confidence boost and showed me that I can work more flexibly and still sustain a living. Rather than running myself into the ground doing a full-time job that I didn’t like I ended up with the extra time that I needed to be able to retrain and study teaching.
I now run a consultancy practice and a start-up, but having a more flexible career has allowed me to do a range of work, from tuition to consulting and marketing. Going part-time is a great way to transition to a different career, invest in your physical and emotional wellbeing and upskill. You also have more time to build your network and make useful connections.
Sarah Parmenter, 51, Account Director, Limitless PR
I used to work as a full-time account manager heading up a number of big accounts. It was a very full-on job with long hours and lots of pressure, and my stress levels were through the roof as I struggled to juggle my role with the demands of single parenting. My eldest son is profoundly disabled and requires 24-hour care, which I share with his father.
"Going part-time is a difficult choice to make, but it is ultimately one which means more flexibility and time to work on other skills, which can only be positive for your career."
I was sinking into depression, tearful, forgetful and unable to concentrate. I knew that I had to change the way that I worked to feel myself again. I resigned with no job to go to and without a plan, other than needing to regroup and start again.
After that I found an opportunity to work for Limitless PR on a part-time basis and began to work for them from home. At the same time I decided to devote some spare time to upcycling vintage furniture as a hobby and creative outlet. It was like therapy, and now I even have selling some of my work.
Being part-time has made me happier and allowed me to enjoy a more balanced work/life dynamic. Without my mental health intact I wasn’t able to feel creative and enthusiastic, but now I’m able to approach my work with passion, confidence and total commitment.
Zara Saleem, 32, Founder, Delhicious Body Skincare
I used to love my full-time job as a primary school teacher, but after having my daughter in 2016 going back to work was a totally different ball game. I was rushing through getting my marking, displays and assessments done alongside lesson planning. I also felt guilty at leaving my 9-month-old daughter at home, so I decided to go part-time.
When I cut down my hours I realised that I had a bit of extra time to work on my passion for skin care. I was always making my own hair masks, and had a range of skincare remedies up my sleeve. I developed a body scrub which worked wonders for my skin, and I just knew that I had to launch it.
Teaching is a job where you can find yourself fully immersed, and being part-time gave me a better balancing act and some breathing space. I was able to spread myself in a way that enabled me to develop my business skills and manage my time without running myself into the ground.
I now work full-time on my brand, as it grew at such a pace that I wasn’t able to manage the workload alongside my teaching and parenting. Going part-time is a difficult choice to make, but it is ultimately one which means more flexibility and time to work on other skills, which can only be positive for your career.
Lindsay McGlone, 23, Care Assistant, Activist and Public Speaker
The decision to go part-time wasn’t a decision so much as a given. I’d been building up a social media following as an activist dismantling misconceptions about living in a larger body, and was working an average of 50-60 hours a week on top of campaigns and events. I reached a point where I couldn’t possibly do both without it having a detrimental effect on the work that I could do as an activist.
"I think that if you feel in your gut that your passion could take off if you had the time to devote to it then going part-time is 100% worth the risk."
After reducing my hours in the healthcare industry I was able to designate set days to my activism, put more time into strong campaigns and preserve my emotional energy. As an activist you have to put a lot of personal experience into your work, and I feel that I was able to give more when I had the time to plan in advance. I now feel a greater level of joy in both of my jobs, and feel that my work has become much stronger. I’ve landed more bookings and events, which have offered a greater level of financial stability.
I think that if you feel in your gut that your passion could take off if you had the time to devote to it then going part-time is 100% worth the risk.
Laura Cloke, 38, Charity Trading Manager and Fulfilment Coach, Unconventional Mentors
I have worked in retail for over 15 years, first in the commercial sector and then for charities. After about 6 years I discovered coaching and knew that this was something that I wanted to explore within my career, but I knew that I needed to take my time to gain experience and get a qualification.
Being made redundant was the catalyst for change. I got my coaching qualification but wasn’t in a financial position to launch my business full-time, so I took a part-time role so that I could pay my bills whilst still having the time and energy to build my business.
Being successful isn’t about the number of hours that you spend at your desk, but about the impact that you have. I’ve found that you can have an enormous impact on your organisation when part-time, as long as you are mindful about how you spend your time.
For me the definition of a successful career is getting fulfilment and satisfaction from the work that I do every day. When I worked full-time I felt like I was constantly commuting and exhausted. I didn’t have the energy or motivation to focus on personal development, and more importantly I didn’t feel fulfilled in my work. I might have been a full-time employee, but I wasn’t doing my best work. Now I feel more energised and engaged at work, and in spite of the challenges of this year I’ve achieved some great results. I can also build up my coaching business without the stress of making it my full-time job.
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