Good Bye Full Time Work

Well I’ve finally out of my manager job and back to working in my old engineer job.  It feels good to be back, but even better yet I’ve negotiated to be reduced down to 90% time starting in July.  Ya! Less money but way more time off!  You might consider myself a bit nuts to want this, but in fact if I have my way I would never go back to full time work again.

Why?  Well have you ever noticed that your vacation after two weeks never seems long enough.  That somehow you feel you should be more rested by the end, but you are not.  Or the fact your typical weekend after errands and a few activities are gone before you know it.   You seem to blink and you are back in the office on Monday. Why?  Because our average work week is really too long.  So we end up in an odd situation where we end up valuing convenience over the money we just earned.  We are willing to pay dearly for an perceived time savings (at least that is my theory since I can’t understand why people spend so much money on eating out).

Since I’ve spent most of this year already with taking off every second Friday afternoon I’ve managed to notice a huge benefit to my life of being able to spend more time doing what I want (spending time with my family or friends, going for a walk or just simply reading a book).  How with just half an extra day?  Well because I can get so much done on those Friday afternoons that I can actually sit back and enjoy the rest of my weekend.  And taking those afternoons was equal to only 5% of my pay.  Now imagine what I could do by taking every single Friday afternoon or a full day every other week (which is actually what I’m planning on doing).

Life just get much easy with just a bit more time off, but even getting this approved was a little like pulling teeth (ironically not because of my boss, but rather my boss’s boss).  Why?  They oddly assume that you being gone is somehow critically  reduce the organization output when in fact, I typically only take off one minor item from my work plan in a year.  I even had to put in a six month trial period to put their minds at ease about the entire issue.

The policy I used to get this apparently is almost exclusively used by new mom’s who want extra time for their kids.  So when I wanted to use it they pointed out how unusual it was for me to get it.  My point back was ok, but how many of your employees are councilors on their Engineering Association?  The answer: one (out of approximately 3000).  Just me.  Heck even the last time I used this policy I was a school board trustee, which again was very unusual.  I don’t have the normal commitments so yes, I need the extra time off.  Yet the reality is the idea you need some highly unusual second job to get more time off is really sad.

I know a number of people who are getting near retirement who would love to reduce hours and stay around a little longer, but most companies seem unwilling to attempt this.  Despite depending on how much people cut back you could literally pay the full salary of a junior staff with the savings from the reduced hours of the senior staff member.  Also I’ve noticed people tend to grossly underestimate the impact of engagement on getting stuff done.  When I’m happy at work I get more done, I’m less tempted to surf the web or otherwise waste time.  God they have study that to death and it’s disturbing how little people get done in a day in the office anyway (hint just under three hours of actual work).

Besides I’ve worked out the impact of this change to my retirement plan and it comes out to a few months in total.  I don’t know about you, but I would much rather make the next five years a lot more enjoyable by working a few month extra at the end of my plan.

So would you ever work part time?  Or is your workplace likely to never approve it?

12 thoughts on “Good Bye Full Time Work”

  1. I’m having trouble dealing with the pay cut in my head. I can’t decide if it’s better to have more time now or invest the money, with compound interest, and have an earlier retirement date. It’s that awkward conflict between logic and emotions.

  2. You bring up a great point! I am looking toward possibly taking a board position in a National organization later this year. Working part time would be a great opportunity to help keep my sanity. My company offers this benefit down to 50%. However, at 80+% you keep your full pension level.

  3. I went from a FT admin position to a PT position when I returned to work from maternity leave. I took a cut in pay and seniority, but my medical benefits remained the same. Seven years later, my hours have increased just a little, and I’m happy to say that I don’t want to return to FT anytime soon. I enjoy leaving a little bit early every day to pick up my son from school.

  4. Back in 2001, after working full-time for 16 years, I was able to negotiate a part-time, mostly telecommuting part-time deal. It was a good arrangement for everyone. I did mostly computer programming and maintenance work so doing that work from home during the off-hours when staff was not around was a good fit. Also, programs which took a long time to run ran more quickly in the off hours. I did not mind doing some work from home at night or on weekends. But the best part was that I had rid myself of nearly the entire commute, the thing I despised the most. I still had to go to the office one day a week, working about 6 1/2 hours while working the remaining 13 1/2 hours from home.

    Having paid off my mortgage 3 years earlier, my monthly expenses had fallen a lot. So, working about 53% of the hours I had worked before, but having my take-home pay about 60% due to the income tax structure, was very affordable. I was still saving a good percent of my income just not as much as before. I still was in my company’s group health program and was already vested in the all-important company stock (ESOP) whose exploding value would be my ticket to ER 7 years later.

    My unique set of skills gave me the leverage to get this deal althuogh some of my other tasks had to be reassigned to other office supervisors, not that I minded it. My raises fell to “Average” although I eventually began receiving annual bonuses once they began a few years later, not that I cared a lot about that. Being rid of most of my commute, being in the group health, and retaining the company stock were the most important items.

    In 2003, 2 years into the telecommuting, the company took away the telecommuting but let me keep the part-time. This returned some of the horrors of the commute, now up to 3 days a week. I also knew at the time it would be my eventual undoing.

    In 2007, I asked for and got a reduction to working 2 6-hour days a week (12 hours total). But even that was too much as my ER planning kicked into high gear. The pieces were falling into place in 2007 and 2008 so when they all fell into place in 2008 working part-time was unacceptable. So I quit and ERed and never looked back. 🙂

  5. The nature of my job just doesn’t allow for the opportunity to work part time – if it had I may have opted for it years ago. I know all too well the rushed nature of weekends…

    But looking back, continuing to work full time, with maximized pay, was probably the right move. I plan to submit my notice of resignation in July, with the expectation of being retired at 42 years old as of October 1, 2014. Already have a month long Mexican vacation booked for November. 🙂

    So yeah, keeping my nose to the grindstone is about to pay off huge.

  6. I don’t do well with 40 hours a week . Whenever I could I’d only work 4 days. Now I’m down to 26 hours a week at my corporate but then do around 15 or so on side projects. I lucked out in that my company is flexible and I’m really good at my job so I mostly get what I want. They know I could quit anytime. I’ve decided I’d rather have less money and enjoy my life more.

  7. Good for you – both Jon and Tim! Is your wife going with you to Mexico Jon?

    In various contracts over the years, I’ve found that some companies are okay with part time and some are not. It seems like at the last one that about 80% was the limit and only a couple of women I know chose that option. Never in management, but it’s okay to do in a specialized area.

    True contract (ie project deliverable regardless of hours) means that I can usually “get in, get done, go home”. I know I could make more pissing around, checking my personal email at work etc. etc. – but it would drive me crazy to do that. Give me a higher rate based on what I produce, don’t make me suffer through your BS and we’re all happy.

    Tim – how does this move affect your bonus or annual salary increase?

  8. My company doesn’t allow part time, and for me, that is fine. I would rather work full time for the next 2-3 years and then quit entirely. Short and painful is how I want to get it done. 🙂

  9. Jacq, my wife will indeed be joining me – though she will probably only come for 20 days (she still wants to work!) while I will head down 10 days earlier… a month long tropical holiday, made even better by the fact that I won’t have to fret about returning to work post vacation…

  10. I would love to work part time but the corporate office wants “full commitment”. I’ll end up in two years leaving the company for part time work else where. I guess if you want to have a life outside work that means you are not fully committed……

  11. June 16 is my 42 birthday and I am going from full-time to RETIRED!
    I encourage you guys to keep working for your early retirement goals. i will be in touch as to how it really is like to be retired.

  12. @Fritz and Jon_snow – Yah! Way to go to both of you being so close to your goals! Enjoy the freedom and stop by once in a while to keep us updated on how things go.

    @Jacq – Sorry for the long wait to your question, last week was a LONG one. Yes bonus and salary increases are also cut back, but the good news is they calculate everything at my full pay first then give me 90% of that. 2014 might be a bit different for bonus since I spent half the year at full time. I’ll have to ask my boss about that.


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