Part-time is not on

3 July, 2010

I’m looking for feedback from employers here, people with staff, managers … because clearly I’m missing something.

Why is there such opposition to employees working less than 38-40 hours per week, 9-5, five days a week?

I know how much productivity and efficiency varies from employee to employee – even factors like typing speed can have a big impact, yet that appears to be irrelevant. I know how disorganised many organisations are; they don’t really know how much effort they need from an employee. As I said to Jimi yesterday one of the big gripes I have with the contractor industry particularly in government is that you’re never brought on for seven weeks or five months but either 3, 6 or 12 months.

Completely arbitrary.

Yet apparently you still need to put in your 5 days a week. Not 4, not 6, but 5.

I’d like to see the terms full-time and part-time abolished and have organisations open to negotiation without prejudice against people who don’t want to or need to put in standard hours. What is the intent of standard hours? To make it easier for HR? Surely with our computerised payroll systems that’s less of an issue now.

How do other people feel about this? I’m not just talking about people who want less hours – some people might feel the need to work more.

We all know the reality is that some people do put in crazy hours … but they’re never employed to work 60 hours a week. It just happens – because they’re crazy or feel pressured. Yet it’s not negotiated, never presented up-front as being the case.

Do you feel you and your co-workers absolutely need to be in the office at your desk 38 hours a week? Would you prefer if it were easier to negotiate different hours so you wasted less time padding out your week to meet those 38 hours even if it meant less money? Perhaps standard hours perfectly suit you – if so, please share why.


  1. I totally support everything in this post. I definitely don’t think I need to be at the office all the time. Although, if I work less I get paid less which is an issue and ties back to your earlier posts about pay.

    • Thanks for the response; The time-based remuneration of employees is a big issue for me too but hopefully this post is more of a bite-size issue that we can actually seriously talk about.

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading a couple of your posts about work, productivity, remuneration etc. This stuff drives me nuts! Until we start rewarding and remunerating people for the value that they produce (rather than the number of hours they are physically in a workspace) I don’t think we’ll be able to really make significant progress in terms of flexible working arrangements. Counting hours and remunerating people on this basis is easy. Clearly articulating expected outputs/deliverables/outcomes and assigning them a value or budget (whether $$ or time) is hard. And I think we need to get better at it.

    I’ve been thinking about writing a number of blog posts on related topics myself… and rather than using your blog comments as a forum for my ranting, I should probably go and write those posts 🙂

    But, have you heard about ROWE (results only work environment)? I first read about it in this post on Tim Ferriss’ blog. I have their book ‘Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It’ sitting on my ‘to read’ shelf…

    • Nope, hadn’t heard about ROWE – looking into it now!

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