Negotiating Hours at Work

You’ve found a dream job, but maybe not a dream schedule. How do you negotiate the hours you want?

As one working parent shares:

“For the last decade I have worked part time from home, running a consulting company. My kids are both school-aged-ish (my youngest just turned 4) and I have the luxury of being home with them most afternoons. Sometimes that means I do work after the kids go to sleep, but I've felt very lucky to be able to work at something I enjoy and get to spend afternoons with my kids. However, my business has really slowed over the last year (though I do still have clients, which is why I am posting anonymously). As a result I've taken on some additional work that honestly is boring and not particularly passion-inducing but still allows me to work part time from home.

I recently interviewed at a company for a position that would allow me to return to the work I was doing with my consulting company, at a place that feels like a good fit, and they've asked me back for a second interview. I came out of the interview feeling excited about being intellectually stimulated again and working on exciting projects, but then was immediately overwhelmed with thinking about what it will be like to only see my kids for an hour or so every night when I get home. This is a fairly senior position and I feel like if I handle it right I might be able to negotiate a shorter workday - maybe something where I would be able to leave the office at 4 every day, or maybe where I work from home 2 days a week. I was wondering if anyone has successfully negotiated a part-time position or flexible schedule, and if so if you have any tips about when to raise the issue (as of yet I have said nothing, and wasn't planning to until I'm actually offered the position), if there are some schedules that employers might be more amenable to (i.e. you know lots of people who work 8-3 or something), or any other suggestions.

I'm really struggling with this decision - I really want to move ahead in my career, but I also don't want the kids to feel I've suddenly vanished from their lives.

Thanks for your wisdom.”




A couple of thoughts. First of all, would you be willing to work full-time for X number of months, and then negotiate to go part-time? In my experience, employers may not be wild about hiring someone part-time from the beginning. BUT once you've been there for a while and proved yourself, they may be more willing to consider it. I was able to talk my boss into accepting a part-time schedule after 6 months, when he had come to like my work and he didn't want to lose me completely.

Also, is there any chance that your husband/partner could try to get home earlier? If so, that might help balance things, so the burden is not all on you to feel bad about getting home later. If both parents work, the moms shouldn't feel all the guilt!

Good luck with your decision, either way!”


Related Reading on PSP

The Debate: Working Long Hours and Parenting

Would You Keep The Job You Have Now If You Didn’t Have Kids