So, you’re thinking about going part-time at work. Maybe you’ve even talked to your manager about it, and you’re putting together a plan to hand off some of your projects so you can reduce your hours by a certain date.
Whatever your reason for going part-time and wherever you are in your process, here are a few things to think about before taking the leap:
Insurance and other benefits
Once you go part-time, will you still have your benefits available to you? Your benefits may change depending on the number of hours you plan to work. Are you working enough to qualify for health insurance? What about other benefits, like life insurance? Will you still be covered? Will you still be able to contribute to your employer-sponsored 401(k), and if your employer is matching contributions, will they continue to do so? If not, do you need to make alternate plans and contribute to a different type of retirement account? If you’re not sure, you can check with your human resources department to see what will happen to your benefits package if you go part-time.
Depending on your reason for going part-time, you may have to deal with the tradeoff of having more free time but less money. Can you still afford your current lifestyle? Will you need to make changes to your budget, or cut certain discretionary expenses? It can help to take a close look at your income, expenses, and debt, and consider any new expenses, like a home office.
Setting work-life boundaries
So, you said you’re going part-time, but is there a scenario where you end up continuing to work the same number of hours for a reduced salary? If you have a job where you must be on-site to work—such as a nurse or barista—it can be easier to limit hours. However, jobs you can do from home (or on the go) can often creep into your home life.
If you think work could creep into your off hours, it can be helpful to think about how you’ll create firm boundaries. It might be as simple as setting up an autoreply email saying that you’re out of the office on Fridays and will respond when you’re back or turning off email alerts on your phone.
What you’ll do with your free time
What will you do with the time you’re not working? For those going part-time for a specific reason, like to handle childcare or to go back to school, there’s an easy answer. For others, this may be an open question. Are you going to spend more time with hobbies or your family, or try to pick up some freelance work on the side? Think about what you want or need to do with your new non-work time and make a plan for how you’ll use it. This can help you feel less anxious about transitioning to part-time work. And, remember, just because you’re not working doesn’t mean you need to be productive all the time. Sometimes, it’s okay to just relax and do nothing.