Monday, December 05, 2005

Is part time harder to manage?

Both Susoz and Elsewhere commented on my previous part-time post that they didn't understand my comment about administrative burden - that having someone working less than full time did create an administrative burden for the management/company. Their surprise did make me wonder whether I'm too much on the side of management these days, but I thought it was worth my explaining a bit more what I meant.

Having thought about my previous comment, I think the main administrative burden revolves around your interaction with other people, and how much of your job revolves around that. Elizabeth at Half Changed World wrote about this a while ago that the best part-time jobs are those where there is only a part-time job to be done. Now except in the smallest organisations, I'm sceptical about this, as most organisations have some larger amount of work to be cut down into bite sized chunks. And the bite sized chunks are currently assumed to be full time. So why is the chunk only one size? It all comes down to other people.

If you manage other people, it's hard to be less than four days a week. If you are interacting on projects with other people, it depends on how frequently. If you have the kind of interaction which is doing tasks by yourself that take a week or so, I would have thought that would be pretty flexible (just make sure you get the deadlines right in the first place). But if (which happens a lot at our place) you are reviewing someone else's work, or if you are the main expert on the particular topic that gets questions from people, then it's harder to manage. And if you are trying to market to clients, then it's harder to get the meeting organised if you're only there three days a week.

It really does depend on the job. But someone who is overqualified for their job can probably do it more easily without as much interaction with the rest of the team (and probably plan that interaction better), so that's why we end up with overqualified people in part-time roles.

As I said at the beginning, I don't know what the answer is. But I think part of answering it is figuring out why (apart from being old-fashioned fuddy-duddys) employers are reluctant to hire part-timers.

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