In a 2012 study by Pew Research Center, nearly half of the moms surveyed thought a part time job would be ideal, while a remarkable lower percentage said they’d prefer having to stay at home or working full time. But then, are part time jobs really that wholesome?
According to a research conducted by Laura Vanderkam, for her book I Know How She Does It, a lot of women who work part time actually work beyond the part-time hours. Some of them put in more than 35 hours per week. One consultant even logged 47 hours per week, and 53 hours during another, a full-time equivalent. In spite of pay-cuts, and being seen as less committed to the job, because, well, it’s part time, some of these were necessarily putting full-time hours to the job.
Growing evidence suggests that full-time comprises of a whole lot of lifestyle options. In a recent study by a major consulting firm it was found that, in spite of a few male employees putting in less hours at work at the consulting firm, many were able to manage keeping their workweeks within the 50-hour range by developing local clients, covering for each other and sorting out personal issues without calling attention to their absences. Some of these professionals were exaggerating their work hours, sometimes by 20 hours or more. There is a noteworthy difference in the hours logged by full-times in similar roles and professions. A ten-hour difference, i.e. two hours per day wasn’t odd.
On the other hand, part-time workers continue to work endless hours, ceaselessly, and even finish incomplete work outside office hours. Moreover, they feel comfortable taking social media breaks, running errands during work hours, taking too much time over work.
Both the above mentioned studies reflect how organizations expect workers to behave these days. There are plenty of ways to work full-time, without spending all of the hours in the office. A lot of parents today are choosing “split-shift”, i.e. spending morning and early afternoon in the office, leaving at a reasonable hour, and then going back to work after the kids are in bed. In the survey conducted by Laura, a majority of women worked on Sundays, while a good 40% logged in to work on Saturdays too. The compensation paid to these women was the ability to attend a weekday preschool function, or spending an afternoon supervising a field trip. The so-called “ideal workers” at the above mentioned consulting firm, earned the same ratings as their peers who toiled for longer hours at work.
Men and women, want to shift to part-time work, should first assess whether could really work a full-time schedule more flexibly.