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Before you write a letter asking for part-time hours, think about how your request will impact others -- your boss, co-workers, team, department or business -- in both positive and negative ways. Create a letter that demonstrates you are committed to and care about your employer's goals despite requesting a reduced work schedule.
Plan Before You Write
Do some preliminary research before you draft your letter. Check with your human resources department about your employer's policy on the matter and find out if there is any precedent. Ask colleagues about any other examples of part-timers. Anticipate what concerns others in your office might have about you going part-time. For example, some people might be worried that the job has too much work for a part-timer -- and they will end up having to do it -- or that a part-timer is not committed enough to function fully as a team member. Whatever the concerns are, you must address them and provide potential solutions while effectively communicating your plan for making this work.
Be Specific and Provide Solutions
When you write your letter to your boss, avoid being vague -- give details about what you want and solutions to alleviate any concerns. Know exactly what hours and days you would like to work and the possible duration of the arrangement. Will this be long term or short term? Offer to take your part-time shifts during hard-to-fill or less desirable times of the workday, or during the peak hours. If you are responsible for tasks or business functions that cannot be easily handled in your absence, tell your boss you will be available to your colleagues by phone or email, and that you are willing to come in to handle something urgent occurring outside your part-time schedule whenever it is feasible.
Focus on the Benefits of Your Request
Your letter should be very persuasive -- sell your request and explain the benefits to everyone involved. Don't focus on how only you might benefit; think of ways others could. For example, a part-time schedule may save the company money or it could improve the company's image of supporting a positive work-life balance. The department or company could have coverage at a time it did not previously have. Make a good argument for your suggested part-time schedule and support it with as many positives as you can come up with. Examples where this arrangement has worked successfully for others in similar roles elsewhere or in other positions in your company can also be supportive.
Convince Your Boss
If there is no precedent in your office for part-timers or if your manager has never had a similar request, she may be hesitant to approve indefinite part-time hours. Offer a trial period of a few months, after which the two of you can meet again and discuss the feasibility of continuing the arrangement. Let your boss know that although you are will be going part-time you can still be fully committed to the goals of the organization. If your boss is less than definite about giving you part-time hours, provide alternatives such as a flex schedule or working at home on certain days. And, never threaten to quit unless you actually will if you do not get the part-time schedule you want.
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.