By Veronica Freeman
With school heading back this week, I’m sure work is front of mind for many of you. More specifically, how you’re going to get great work done (and advance your career) while also negotiating the world’s shortest day: the school day.
Some people may think part-time professionals are clock in clock out workers but nothing is further from the truth. We want meaningful work and we want our strategic ideas to be heard.
But, when you’ve got to leave work mid-afternoon and the business rhythm is skewed towards delivering outcomes by COB how can you manage it and still make impact?
Having worked part-time for over eight years, and with two school-aged boys — and now working at Beam where we’re helping employers create part-time roles — I thought I’d share some of my strategies for getting it done. (And by the way, these suggestions aren’t just for parents but for anyone wanting to work reduced or non-traditional hours.)
1. Be clear with your teammates on your work hours, and stick to them
Being transparent about what’s been agreed with your manager and when your work day starts and ends is so important. You are getting paid for the time you are working so please don’t feel guilty. I have no doubt you’re a powerhouse of productivity!
2. Set your work priorities early in the day
If, like me, you need to dash at 2:30pm for the school run, it’s important that you focus on the tasks where your skills and experience can help the team deliver on its goals. If it makes things easier, have a daily check-in with your boss to prioritise against larger business goals.
3. Communicate effectively about where tasks are at and provide a solid handover
If you require a task to be progressed when you’re not in, be sure to communicate with the team. It’s also great if you have someone responsible for following it through or being the point of contact to help with business continuity. I used to send an email to my team and give them all a rundown at the end of the day. That way, everyone was privy to the info.
If it’s not critical, come back to it when you’re in the office again. Everything doesn’t need to be done now.
4. Think about creative ways to manage handover and information sharing
We live in 2019 right? I used to leave work at 2:30pm and have a telecon with members of the team I needed to brief via Bluetooth while driving. This meant I didn’t run late for school pick-up — but team members still felt looped in. See if your team can use collaboration tools like Slack or Trello so it’s not just emails!
At Beam where we’re all working part-time (and in different cities!) we use Slack to communicate everything from what we’re working on that day to input we need from other team members. Then that conversation is saved for us to come back to later so we can pick things up without missing a beat.
5. Build a tribe you trust
Lastly, connect with your community. When my son started kindergarten, there were many times that I got caught up or hit traffic for pick-up. So have someone you trust who can help you out as needed with the pick-up. And be this person for someone else. This makes a world of difference. Even if it’s to watch your kids on the playground for 10 mins while you find a park!
Rushing and running late can make you feel anxious and stressed. You don’t need this after you’ve had your head in work for many hours!
Last thing I will say is to be kind to yourself. Easier said than done huh? But, you are smashing out-dated perceptions of what a part-time worker looks like. Fractional work is the future and you’re living it — and paving the way for others. Some days are harder than others. You have a lot to offer and your workplace will see that.
Now, go get them
Veronica Freeman is Marketplace Manager at Beam Australia, home of great part-time roles (many of them school hours). Previously, Veron worked in social policy at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet — and prepared advice for five different Prime Ministers.