Part time versus flexibility. What’s the difference?
Do you work part time hours or do you have a flexible work arrangement and what is the difference anyway?
Understanding these different ways of working is definitely worth your while when negotiating your hours with your employer and in creating a clear understanding of expectations between you and your boss.
In my opinion the most significant difference between someone who works part time and someone who works with flexibility (regardless of the hours that are actually worked) is in the priorities and attitude toward work that the individual has adopted.
If you are seeking an arrangement that allows you to work very clearly defined start and finish times and to have an understanding with your boss that when you leave the office you are done for the day, then a part time position is probably what you are looking for. This type of arrangement is ideal if you are looking to have clear boundaries between your time at work and your time at home.
If however you are looking to take on accountability for the outcomes of your role and you are prepared to put in the necessary hours to achieve results then perhaps a flexible arrangement would best suit you. Typically someone who works flexibly will work more hours than they are physically in the office and therefore being connected with mobile technology is a must.
Regardless of the type of arrangement you are looking to create, it pays to set up very clear expectations so that both employee and employer have a shared view of how things are going to work.
Here is my take on key differences that you need to be aware of
Set start and finish times
Clear boundaries around blocks of time – work and home is compartmentalised
No expectation that you will work from home or work extra hours unpaid
No expectation that you will take calls or check email after you have left the office
Little or no dependency on mobile technology
You are paid for the hours you work
May limit opportunities for progression or leadership responsibilities
If you want to attend a special event at your child’s school during your work hours then you may need to take the time off as annual leave.
You work flexible or irregular hours that you manage
Boundaries between time at work and home are blurred which may require techniques to manage effectively.
You are paid a salary for fulfilling the responsibilities of your job not for the hours you work
There is an expectation that you will be available during normal office hours regardless of where you are.
You are expected to achieve outcomes which may require you to work additional hours than those you work in the office
High dependency on mobile technology
Opportunities to take on more responsibility or progression should not be limited
If you can manage your workload then flexibility may mean that you are able to attend school events or kids sports activities.
It goes without saying that there is no one size fits all part time or flexible working arrangement and in my corporate career I have seen and experienced many different and creative ways that employers and employees have compromised so that each gets what works for them. I have also seen and experienced arrangements that have ended in disaster and almost always it was due to poor communication and poor expectation setting at the outset.
I mentioned earlier that it is worth your while in really understanding these differences and how they may suit you. In my Maternity Leave Return Mentoring, I work with my clients so that they are clear on their priorities and goals, personal and professional, before entering negotiations to create their ideal work arrangement. It is important to be honest with yourself during this process and consider what is right and achievable for you, your career, your family and the company you work for.