Which work option is best for you?

by Pat Katepoo

Your home life, finances, and career goals will help you determine which work option is best for you at this phase of your life. Here is an overview of the most common full-time and part-time flexible work arrangements to consider.

Full-time flexible work arrangements

In general, proposing a full-time flexible arrangement is an easier "sell" than a part-time one, especially with unenlightened bosses or with employers who lack policies promoting flexibility.

Flexible work options which maintain your full-time income include flextime, telecommuting and compressed workweek.

Here's a quick overview of full-time work options:

Flextime is the most popular flexible work option available and usually the easiest to get approved. It would allow you a flexible starting and quitting time within management-set limits.

For example, if your normal work hours are from 8 - 5, a flextime schedule might allow you to work from 6:30 to 3:30, 9 to 6, or whatever start/stop time worked best for you, while still being workable for your employer.

Choose the flextime option if you want to preserve your visibility on the job by your daily presence, yet could use the restructured "extra" time provided in the morning or afternoon.

Telecommuting would allow you to work at home during part of your scheduled hours. Typically, telecommuters come into the office two or three days a week to attend meetings and stay visible and in touch.

If at least part of your job responsibilities are conducive to it, choose the telecommuting or work-from-home option if cutting the time, costs and stress of commuting will bring the greatest flexibility payoffs.

The compressed workweek has you working 40 hours in fewer than five days. The most widely used set-up is 10 hour days for four days a week.

Choose this option if you need that additional day off, have the stamina to consistently work 10-hour days, and if outside scheduling commitments and arrangements (e.g., child care) can fit into this non-traditional schedule.

Part-time flexible work arrangements

Would you say you have an over-scheduled lifestyle? Choosing a part-time work option can be just the ticket to a "downshifted" pace, while still remaining active and visible in your career.

Consider the following options.

Are you often tired with little time for yourself after you've taken care of everyone else's needs? If so, a shortened work day of five, six or seven hours can help make the difference between stress and sanity as you juggle your work and personal lives.

With fewer hours on the job, you may find yourself with more energy to get the job done.

If you'd like a full day off during the week to be with your young child(ren), a shortened workweek may be your best option. A four day workweek can be an affordable option that works well in most professional positions. Anything less than four days a week and you may be unable to meet your job duties--unless you job share.

A job sharing arrangement is a form of part-time work where two people share the responsibilities of one full-time position.

For professionals or managers and others in high level career paths, job sharing is an attractive work option for keeping on the career track while still allowing more time outside of work.

Redesigning your job to be less-than-full-time generally requires thoughtful and thorough planning. Your boss/employer will want assurance of how the work will get done with your new arrangement.

Careful consideration of your priorities in your personal, financial and professional life will help guide your choice of the best work option for you.

Also see:
Worksheet for deciding what work option is best for you
Discover your personal reasons for pursuing a flexible work arrangement

Pat Katepoo is founder of WorkOptions.com and the developer of the electronic workbook, Flex Success: A Proposal Blueprint & Planning Guide for Getting a Family-Friendly Work Schedule.