The new normal affords workers more flexibility in where they work and how many hours of their day they dedicate toward their jobs. The pandemic made changes to the way we work. To maintain social distancing protocols, people were asked not to come to the office and, instead, work from the comforts of their home. Many people also transitioned from full-time work to freelancing or part-time jobs.
For some, it was a temporary arrangement. Millions of Americans lost their jobs due to lockdowns and, therefore, have to find new ways to earn a living. To others, it was a conscious choice. It was a decision that allowed them to have better control of their time. It gives them an opportunity to pursue other passions or spend time with family.
More than 20 million individuals in the US work less than 35 hours weekly, and they do so for non-economic reasons, which means that they chose not to work full-time. About two-thirds of them are part-time workers because they have obligations at home, go to school, or are semi-retired. The remaining one-third did not want to be tied to just one employer.
Ideal for Parents
Parents, perhaps, are the ones who will benefit the most from the arrangement. Many working parents will likely choose to go part-time if they can earn sufficiently to live comfortably and if they can continue to have a worthwhile career.
A study by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development found that mothers who work part-time are less depressed and maintain better physical health compared to those who stay at home. It was because they can enjoy the best of both worlds. They can continue to have a career and still have enough time to raise their children.
Moreover, working part-time does not mean having a less fruitful career.
Executives Going Part-Time
More companies are hiring what is called the fractional executive, professionals who offer their expertise on a for-hire basis. By 2017, one in six people who earn over £40,000 ($55,000) works for fewer than five days a week in the United Kingdom.
It is not just happening in the UK. Businesses across the United States are also choosing to work with a part-time executive rather than hire a full-time senior staff.
The concept of a part-time executive is not new. In 2013, before officially stepping down from his position as CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates announced that he would be working at the tech company he founded part-time. He wanted to focus more on his charitable foundation, which he established with now ex-wife Melinda.
Businesses are starting to see the benefits of hiring a fractional executive. For example, a business is losing revenue. A fractional CMO can come in to identify the problem, develop an efficient course of action, and improve marketing strategies and, therefore, revenue. Because they are working part-time, they go after the business has gotten back to its feet.
This is proof that working part-time is very different from what many perceive. It is not just low-level jobs. It is for people who want better control of their work and their life.
The Better Normal
Reducing the time a person spends working will benefit everyone. In fact, in one recent study conducted in Iceland, workers who worked four days a week without a pay cut had a significant boost in their well-being. They were less stressed and experienced less burnout. Moreover, they improved their health. They achieved the coveted work-life balance that so many people want and cannot have.
In addition, the study also found that the shorter workweek did not affect productivity at all. While people worked 35 to 36 hours per week, they could submit the same quality output or even exceed their prior performance.
Participants reported that the newly-found free time was used to exercise and socialize, which positively impacted their performance at work.
In Iceland, most workers spend 40 hours a week at work. As of June 2021, many people in Iceland have already expressed interest in moving to a shorter workweek. While the U.S. does not seem to be moving toward a shorter workweek, it should be seriously considered now that the benefits are clear. It will give people the opportunity to have more time for family and themselves.
Working part-time benefits most people, especially parents who want to spend more time with their children. The arrangement allows them to raise their children and still pursue a career. However, going part-time does not just benefit working parents. Most people will be healthier and happier if they spend less time at work.