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Is Finding Part Time Work In IT Unrealistic?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the easier-to-replace-with-hardware dept.

IT 396

I like my current job writes "Having worked full-time in IT for the past 12 years, I would really like to work less and focus on other goals and priorities in my life. I asked my current employer and was shot down. It seems like everyone I know in IT works full-time except for entry-level help desk staff. Striking out on my own seems to be the only way to control the ball and chain around my ankle. However, my experience with independent consulting is a 'feast or famine' situation, with work coming all at once, thus making part-time impossible, or the other extreme (which is even more likely). Is part-time work a pipe dream in IT? Maybe a career in toilet cleaning is calling me."

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396 comments

The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (5, Insightful)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184387)

One reason corporations don't like part-time is that as long as you are full-time, you actually tend to work way past 40 hours a week. You do whatever it takes to get the job done, under impossible deadlines.

Once you are part-time, you start saying no to crazy demands. Corporations just hate that.

My answer? Be your own boss. It comes with a caveat: starting your own business alone is a bad idea. Guess what? It takes more than one person to provide something of value. It doesn't take an army of hundreds, but a small dedicated group of friends can do amazing things. The sum really is larger than the parts.

Take a look at fairsoftware.net [fairsoftware.net] . It was designed for exactly that purpose: geeks starting a side business together.

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (5, Funny)

tukang (1209392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184569)

You do whatever it takes to get the job done, under impossible deadlines.

Luckily, that's not the case at all when you're your own boss ;)

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (3, Funny)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184779)

Luckily, that's not the case at all when you're your own boss ;)

Probably not, but resigning from the job is a bitch. I can't agree with myself whether I should quit or I should be fired.

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (3, Informative)

piojo (995934) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185125)

I can't agree with myself whether I should quit or I should be fired.

There is the obvious caveat that if you look for regular work again in 5 or 10 years, it will be slightly better to have quit your last regular job than to have been fired from it.

Get the definition right (4, Insightful)

heretic108 (454817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184951)

In the IT industry as I've known it, 'part time work' is anything less than 80 hours/week.

Re:Get the definition right (4, Insightful)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185219)

Not sure if you are joking, but if not...then you need a new job. Or you may just need to put your foot down. I have been in IT for years as a web developer for a few diff companies, and have never worked like that. Get your stuff done at work, make it clear you are willing to work a little extra where needed (which should be rare) but if there is bad planning, well, tough. IT shops need to be brought back to reality, namely, that poor planning cannot be overcome by stressing out your workers. And I've done pretty well, and thus far my family hasn't starved. The people who are often overworked are overworked because they let it happen. I have known way too many "heroes" who are all willing to work as long as needed for no good reason at all. Trouble is, today's hero is tomorrow's burnout.

Or become a consultant. You may work the hours, but they are no longer a free gift from you to the company. You bill every hour you work.

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26185245)

'the job' refers to trying to make the shareholders and execs rich. ;;)

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (5, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184595)

There's always a catch.

I have several friends who have tried this over the years, and know other people who have tried this. The bottom line is: friendships can fail under the strain of a business relationship, and when the friendship fails, the business is not far behind. My wife has worked for three of these ventures over the last 15 years, where two friends created a business, had a falling out, and the business collapsed as a result. All three times. In none of those cases were the owners able to remain friends. She is now with a family owned business who are having their own difficulties right now, but there's no risk of a partnership collapsing here to accelerate it.

Being in it with a friend at a stressful time, when you have one idea about how to save the company, and your friend has a different-and-incompatible idea, and there's just enough money left to try one of your ideas, that's a pressure cooker not many relationships can survive.

Now, you may have a "less permanent" idea about business. Maybe you just want to start a company for the purpose of working, but don't care if it stays together longer than three years or so. As long as you and your partners agree up front, that may work for you.

One other piece of advice -- hire an independent person to do the books, someone you both can trust. Not just an external accountant, but a bookkeeper who sees the day-to-day spending, and lets you both know that the other isn't spending money foolishly.

I will say that family owned businesses seem to be the exception to the rule, as long as Dad or Mom or Grandpa is the "boss" and everyone else understands that.

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184791)

Yeah, I worked at a business founded by a married couple and they divorced shortly after I left.

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (2, Funny)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184853)

Boy does your wife bring back luck...

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (1)

goatpunch (668594) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184889)

Yes, and these 'friends' might be less reluctant than you think to screw you over to save themselves if the shit hits the fan.

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26185025)

Good advice in the parent post. I've been through a friendship/business fallout. The absolute WORST thing you can do is trust your friend/anyone with respect to business. Keep business and friendship separate, because if they become too intermingled you'll likely loose both should either one fail.

Take the time to spell out terms and conditions of your business, and the responsibilities in detail, with an attorney. Try to cover all possible circumstances, in the same way you would going into business with a total stranger. What happens if one person: Wants "out"? Things turn ugly financially? Gets injured and can't fulfill their responsibility? Refuses to act responsibly? Gets sued by a third party any they go after his/her portion of the business? Divorces? Steals from the company?

As the parent poster said, get a good accountant. Make sure all accounts, both debt and asset are treated equally (both parties share responsibility for any company debt, and any company money). Never allow any one person control over the company bank account. Most business accounts require two signatures for a reason.

Think twice about going into business with a friend. As a consultant I've worked with a great deal of small business people, and I've heard heard a lot of horror stories.

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184613)

Isn't contracting on a per-hour basis exactly what this is supposed to balance? If a market can hire FT employees at their rates, then the supply of developers might not be low enough to raise prices (or, in this case, reduce workweek hours).

    Contractors typically supply a varying percentage of an IT workforce in any large company - it just makes more sense to the company to bring in hired hands during project "pushes" than to keep them on staff permanently. However, we all know these can last a long time, and some companies never stop rolling out projects...

    If an employer doesn't want to let someone work PT, and the employee isn't willing to jump into the contractor-for-hire, market, there's that stability of a regular employer he might be relying upon, even if the salary/work pressures are not fulfilling. In this case, it simply may be the relationship that employer wants to have: "We ask you to work, a lot, and you have a regular place to work". Now, when the employer has layoffs, all bets change...

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (2, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184901)

Being part-time is no safeguard against your employer making unfair demands on your time. I used to have a part-time job (their decision, not mine) doing tech support, but routinely found myself working 40-50 (sometimes 60) hours a week. After all, it was so much easier to give me more work (and more hours) than adding staff. They seemed to think that they were doing me a favor, but it also meant that my other priorities (i.e. my personal life and the freelance work that I did to make up for the lack of benefits) had to be neglected.

I had a previous tech support job that was genuinely part-time, and paid just enough (including pro-rated benefits) to survive while I went back to school. The problem there was that being part-time meant that I wasn't a "regular" employee who needed input on technology strategy, etc. Because I wasn't in the office every day, I often didn't hear about things. And when the budget got tight, instead of laying off one of the full-timers with less seniority, they laid off the part-timer, because that was "less disruptive".

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185039)

Employees vs. contractors is always an interesting factor in economic uncertainty times. When rumours of job cuts start circulating the permies are first in line to shout about seniority and loyalty regardless of their skills and relative worth to the organization.

"But I filled out the timesheets correctly for 15 years and kissed the appropriate asses! Why should I be let go?!

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (3, Interesting)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185061)

I started my company by myself. It doesn't have to pan out the way you described -- it depends very much on what your product is and what the margin on that product in the responsive markets is, and how that margin changes over time.

Pretty much business 201 there. If you're doing hardware repair then no, you probably can't start a company on your own that does just that. The margin is too small in most markets. However, if you choose a thing like security consulting the current margin is ridiculously huge enough to really get something viable going with one single person.

That doesn't mean that the breaking point (where you have to hire someone else or risk either ending up on nitro glycerin or thorazine) is any easier with a very high margin product. In fact I think it makes it even harder; the tendency is to wait much longer than you need to when you see the kind of profit you're bringing in by yourself. It's death to a number of one person operations every day, having bad timing in that moment.

Re:The Boss Decides... so be the Boss (1)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185267)

I used to work for a large telco corporation (think big!) On my team, there were two women who worked three days a week. They, AFAIK, had benefits and all, but made a lot less salary. It can happen, it's all in how you ask for it.

You have to make a case for it, and you have to have a reasonable boss. Reasonable bosses are usually what happens to people who get their work done and provide value (unless your boss is hopelessly inept and doesn't esteem people who are good employees.) If you are valuable, then they'll want to keep you. If that means keeping you at half time or three days a week or whatever, then that's better than losing you totally.

Good course of action: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184391)

This is how to handle the situation:

Schedule an appointment with your boss, then walk into his office(shutting the door behind you) and grab his tie. Yank it down so hard that it chokes him and his head slams into his desk and say with your other fist clenched,

"You punk motherfucker - I'm going to come in at 7am and leave at 11am and you're going to pay me my regular fucking salary as if we didn't have this little discussion, capiche?"

If he says anything other than "yes" then grab his stapler and pistol-whip him with it. Go back to work while keeping a loaded pistol in your desk so that you can point it at your boss whenever he walks by your cubicle. Leave early so that you can break into his home and hang his pets from his ceiling fan, but take one of the pets, behead it, and place its head on your boss' bed. Then write, "I see you" above his bed using his favorite pet's blood.

If the plan outlined above dosen't work, you just might have to play hardball.

Re:Good course of action: (2, Funny)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184553)

Subtle, very subtle.

Re:Good course of action: (-1, Flamebait)

tfiedler (732589) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184631)

Only a bunch of dickhead part-time workers would moderate something like this parent as funny.

Pipe Dream? (1)

Walzmyn (913748) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184733)

The term "Pipe dream" comes from Freud's interpretation of objects in dreams. He believed that pipes signified unfulfilled sexual fantasies*. So... if you wanna think of a job in IT as an sexual fantasy... you go right ahead with that.

*Then again, being a raving pervert, Freud thought of everything as sexual related.

Re:Pipe Dream? (4, Informative)

plantman-the-womb-st (776722) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184863)

Um, no. The common usage of the phrase "pipe dream" most often was a reference to the crazy whims and idea a person would talk about after smoking opium. Freud doesn't matter to enough people to become vernacular.

Re:Good course of action: (1)

eosp (885380) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184767)

behead it, and place its head on your boss' bed.

Someone watch Godfather recently?

Re:Good course of action: (1)

yerktoader (413167) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185041)

I am Jack's Smirking Revenge...For some reason, I thought of my first fight, with Tyler.

Re:Good course of action: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26185093)

reminds me of Fight Club for some reason :)

Sorry to be OT but (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184419)

Is it just me or the Slashdot pages are messed up today? On my Firefox 3.05, the error console shows errors in "core-tidied.css" and all the tags don't collapse. The site looks okay on IE though.

Re:Sorry to be OT but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184665)

I see the IE team finally caught up with Rob. 'We see you'

On the right track (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184421)

If you are involved in the development of software then you will be on the treadmill. The only way out is to either strike out on your own or to give up on the industry altogether.

Personally, I wouldn't do it. But I can see how leaving the industry completely is attractive for some. Just be prepared for the paycut.

But then again, money isn't everything, and if you can improve your quality of life, even with a paycut, then more power to you.

Microsoft (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184445)

Get a job at Microsoft, there is a reason why they have been rated 'best employer' serveral times in a number of countries.

Re:Microsoft (1)

lloydchristmas759 (1105487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184503)

I met several Microsoft employees and they all told me that they worked 60+ hours a week (40 at work and 20 more at home) so part time does not seem so attractive in these conditions...

Re:Microsoft (-1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184517)

[citation needed]

Re:Microsoft (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184869)

[new joke needed]

Re:Microsoft (1)

hobbit (5915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184995)

[apparently not]

Re:Microsoft (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184941)

Apparently not if he's in Arkansas, cuz then the haxxors will track his IP address and pwn his system...

Re:Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184895)

And did you ask them what their benefits were? Yeah, I didn't think so.

One of the main reasons Microsoft appeals to many people is the benefits package, specifically their medical coverage. They cover 100% of medical expenses in most cases (and by most I do mean the majority of, including some surgeries).

Contracting companies often offer no form of benefits/coverage, or if they do, you're better off paying for coverage out-of-pocket.

Good benefits is not a reason to work somewhere, but a lot of people -- especially those with families -- consider the coverage Microsoft offers unmatched. I don't even think Google provides something as vast.

Re:Microsoft (1)

MeanMF (631837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184911)

If you're part-time and putting on 60+ hours per week, then at least you're getting PAID for those hours.

Re:Microsoft (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184787)

I can recommend Big Blue for this as well. IBM are pretty good at flexible working arangements, I know a couple fo software Engineers working for IBM on a part time basis.

Would someone explain to me why I''m not doing this? I'm not sure I understand working full time, now that I've thought about it.

Re:Microsoft (2, Informative)

raburton (1281780) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184913)

I can recommend IBM (UK). Didn't do it myself, but I knew several people who did. Of course they switched to part time, they didn't join as part timers.

Not only part time (1)

sgtron (35704) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184447)

Full time work is also impossible.. at least for me.

Re:Not only part time (0)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184833)

Heck, I thought everyone here was part time.

I'm surprised how so many people manage "full time" while being on slashdot/digg/wikipedia/youtube all the time :).

of course (1, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184473)

Depending on your definition of IT, I've worked with a handful of people who worked part time. Of course, when it came time to rightsize, they were on the top of the list. And without a strong reason (like young children), that put a big question mark on your company loyalty.

Re:of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26185067)

I just became a team lead / line supervisor in IT (I was an employee in the same group for many years). I have one part time person working for me who has been part time for 10 years. I have a friend in another division who does coding and is part time.

It really depends on the company. There are some out there that are willing to work with their employees. For example, I am on 9/80 with every other Monday off. I also work from home on my Monday "on". Others do 4/10 schedules or part time. It is certainly possible with the right company and supervisor.

Maybe it depends on where you are (5, Informative)

Anonymous MadCoe (613739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184481)

Depending on your definition of part-time, but many companies in The Netherlands will allow for a 32 hours week (4 days).
As far as I know is hat not uncommon in Sweden either.

Re:Maybe it depends on where you are (1)

lloydchristmas759 (1105487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184561)

At my previous job I had a collegue that worked 80 percents (4 days), but he was regularly pressured by the boss to work 100 percents. The only way he could stay at 80 was to threaten to resign. His unique knowledge of certain projects prevented him to get fired...

Re:Maybe it depends on where you are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184885)

We're not f*ing socialists in America! Lazy bastards!

not unrealistic at all (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184483)

... but if your boss needs a particular amount of work done, it may be a lot more expensive for him to achieve that with 2 (or 3) part-time workers. Also, part-time sometimes means "partly committed" as well (or busy working on something else). Being your own boss may be a good solution, but it could also be the road to the 70-100 hour week hell. ;-)

Re:not unrealistic at all (1)

plantman-the-womb-st (776722) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185229)

Indeed, as an employee one always must consider what the needs of the boss are. Company first. Self second. After all... it's not like there is anything else to do, and if you don't do it, someone else will.

On the other hand...

It's in most cases actually cheaper to pay two part-time employees than one full-time. For one, you are paying the same hourly rate regardless of how many checks you write. You pay for 60 hours of work, it's the same amount if you pay one person or if you pay three. Also, part-time gets no overtime, so no wage increase. Part-time also gets no benefits or stock options and such-like.

I work parr time - or used to (4, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184489)

As a contractor I have the option to work less. I can voluntarily choose to cut my hours to 6 hours a day (or alternatively 4 days a week) if work is slow & I have nothing to do. That saves the company's money and gives me more time to enjoy life.

The drawback is that when crunch time comes, then you're expected to put in the overtime.

Re:I work parr time - or used to (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185193)

This is a bad idea.

Showing that the company can live without you is showing that you're being paid for nothing, according to those zany accountants. Now, I like the idea myself..that you can scale back hours voluntarily as necessary, as opposed to doing that soul crushing busy work.

Accountants ruin it. Whether it be by making the assumption that you're lazy/slacking/unnecessary/etc, or by saying "well since half the department is part time anyway, lets fire everyone and hire a consultant for a third of the total price."

Believe me. It happens all the time. I've known people who were responsible for these types of decisions. They tell me their co-workers get off on having ultimate power over hiring/firing/company policy/etc. The CEO's and higher ups generally go along with it. If your accountant calls you and lets you know that they can cut 30% off your expenses without affecting anything, wouldn't you listen?

Are there many high level PT jobs anywhere? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184493)

Outside of IT, how often do you find people working higher level jobs part-time? It seems to me that part-time jobs are almost ways lower level, lower responsibility positions. You'd probably have better luck finding something with some sort of flex time or telecommuting. By altering your schedule that way, you can save quite a few hours.

Re:Are there many high level PT jobs anywhere? (4, Interesting)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185065)

We actually had an interesting situation where I work (spacecraft operations). We had a senior aerospace engineer depart after 15 years to become an airline pilot, of all things (decided to turn a hobby into a job).

About a year later, he came back part time because the routes he flew left him with large blocks of free time at irregular periods during the month, and he was getting bored (because before his "hobby" was flying....and he stopped doing that on his days off!).

It was a win-win situation. He'd give us 40-60 hours a month of hourly work when it was convenient for him. We kept his hopper full of things like documentation, training, and other stuff that most senior guys consider dreg work. Even though he now has enough seniority to avoid pilot furloughs, he'll volunteer to drop his flight hours if the airline needs him to. He just increases his hours with us (and he's so good, we'll take whatever he gives us up to full time).

Since he's not interested in advancing up the ladder, he really does a great job on this low-visibility stuff that really helps an organization run well if it's done right.

Yes it's possible (2, Informative)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184507)

My department has two or three part time workers. One of them is a part-time, remote worker.

They don't play in-depth technical roles. One is a project manager. She manages a single project that would, with full time people, be one of two or three projects that full time person was managing.

Another does do support, both helping with features and interacting with users about future features they would like to see on the reporting system in question.

I can't remember what the third one does but I'm pretty sure they exist.

I'm a development team lead, and wouldn't have a problem with a part-time developer, so long as they were largely self-managed - if I can give them a vague description of something and get a design and time estimate and then get the work done when they estimated, that would be fine.

I did it (4, Informative)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184515)

I did it for about 6 months. I went from 40 hour weeks to 20 hour weeks comprised of 2 10-hour days. After a few months the situation became untenable and I chose to quit and move on.

The problem was the manager couldn't sequence the work where I could perform it on the days I was there. I wasn't just asking myself to rise to the challenge, I was asking him to do so too. He couldn't. So he placed another employee to deal with issues that came up while I was out of the office. The other guy was what I like to refer to as a brilliant idiot. That's not just sour grapes; a few months after I left he escaped just ahead of the axe. In the months I was there he took it upon himself to unilaterally reconfigure systems on the days I wasn't scheduled to work.

Faced with the conflict, the boss made the decision to go with the guy who was in the office. Not the wisest of choices as it turned out, but completely understandable.

Re:I did it (5, Insightful)

murdocj (543661) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184615)

So you were only available 2 days a week, and you're upset that your boss couldn't somehow schedule all of the work to occur those 2 days? You say "he placed another employee to deal with issues that came up while I was out of the office"... what was he supposed to do? Put the problem on hold 4-5 days till you were available?

It's one thing to say "this is my code, my system, no one else touches it without talking to me first" if you are available normal working hours. If you aren't available, guess what, someone else is going to have to deal with the "issues" that come up while you are out of the office. Where I work, people are nervous if there's only one full time employee who understands how to do something, having a part-timer be the only one would be utterly unacceptable, unless the function is pretty marginal to being with.

Re:I did it (4, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184881)

You misunderstand. I'm suggesting that someone who isn't entry level, someone with real responsibility who tries to drop to part time sets himself up for failure. He's asking the manager he works for to greatly exceed normal and reasonable expectations. Few can.

I will, however, defend my choices this far: I carried a cell phone and left standing instructions to call me when faced with something that genuinely couldn't wait. Knucklehead didn't call. He did wait though: he postponed tasks until I *wasn't* there.

Re:I did it (1)

dexmachina (1341273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184937)

... what was he supposed to do? Put the problem on hold 4-5 days till you were available?

The grandparent specifically said "I wasn't just asking myself to rise to the challenge, I was asking him to do so too." He was admitting it was an untenable situation because he was putting his boss in an impossible position. The very last thing he said was that it was completely understandable that his boss went with the guy in the office. There's nothing suggesting he was upset or even slightly annoyed. So...um...no.

why unrealistic? (1)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184523)

both my boss and one of my colleagues are working part time (80%). but I'm from Germany and I work for a small family business - maybe this explains the differences.

Re:why unrealistic? (3, Informative)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184663)

Especially in small businesses, part time work can be deadly for productivity.

When you only have a handful of people, there is usually less enforcement of proper procedures and documentation, leading to situations where only a single person can help with certain issues fast - of course, other people would be able to figure it out too, but need more time to immerse them into the situation.

For example, i have a few customers with which i work every week. I keep the documentation up-to-date, but it doesn't change the fact that i know their infrastructure by heart and don't have to look up most of the stuff.

So when i take a day off, people have either to choice of investing 30-60-90 minutes of reading docs and familiarizing themselves with something, or calling me and getting an answer in 5 minutes.

Of course my coworkers respect my time off, but customers don't. This can lead to nasty situations, which is why i think part timing is a big problem.

Of course in big, faceless corporations, it matters less, as employee morale is basically nonexistant.

Re:why unrealistic? (1)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184713)

good point - and when I think about it: all of our IT staff with customer contact works full time.

so my "small"-argument is broken....

Re:why unrealistic? (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184829)

Something we are doing, and is working rather well IMHO, is working from home.

It doesn't make you unavailable for the company, so you can pick up the phone when needed, but you can also plan your day a lot more relaxed.

As a small business, we build on the trust principle here, and expect thing to work okay without any control measures in place - i think this is completely acceptable, especially if you have a motivated workforce.

Our developers and sales personnel like working this way (one or two day per week from home, with flexible scheduling). However, for customer facing personnel and/or system engineers, this wouldn't work so well as physical presence is required in many cases.

Re:why unrealistic? (1)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185081)

home office is nearly impossible in our shop as e work with sensitive medical data - but as I'm the sys admin ssh is my friend and I try to avoid user and customer contact :)

the work has to be done - but the way to achieve this target is fortunately not restricted

Find a small company... (5, Interesting)

mooreBS (796555) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184545)

...that doesn't need full-time IT. The company I work for only has forty employees and we have a part-time admin who comes in two days a week. The only drawback is that he's on call 24/7. Just remember that remote access is your friend.

I've got the same thing going on. (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184893)

... But it's in addition to my full time job.

Strap some SNMP on top of multiple remote options (networkable power switches help in disaster scenarios).

They call me once or twice a week, and I see them once a month. I collect about $100 a week for maybe 4 hours of work.

It works out well.

Re:Find a small company... (3, Insightful)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185047)

Exactly what I was going to suggest. Or a company that has a particular job that only needs to be part-time -- my organization has one full-time IT person (me), but we also have a part-time sysadmin who takes care of various stuff and is an extra person on-call (useful with a very small staff), and a part-time developer (who is part-time because we can't afford to hire him full-time).

Personal motivation (4, Informative)

Exp315 (851386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184571)

If your reasons for wanting to work part time are that you're lazy and you don't like being told what to do, good luck! You'll need it. I successfully ran my own independent software business for a couple of years, with a combination of internet sales of my own product, and part-time contracting for a couple of companies. I could set my own hours of work, but that didn't mean that I worked any less - just that I had to rely on personal motivation and sense of responsibility to get the work done. And if you think "being your own boss" means that you can do things your way, think again. It means that you have to learn to put ego aside and do what your customers want.

It's called contracting? (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184575)

Contract and telecommute. As long as you get your work done, you work the hours you want. Of course you may get underbid by foreign workers but often companies want someone who works THEIR hours, whom they can call if they need and who may be available beyond the contract for support. I have worked with many companies which have been burned by foreign contractors and will not work with them unless they have a presence their.

Of course, I have also seen employers get burned by domestic contractors but that doesn't stop them from trying to shop around.

possible ways to do part-time (2, Insightful)

misterjava66 (1265146) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184579)

You could go into consulting, and only spend 1/3 of the money you earn and put the rest into reserve for between gigs, and then work parttime by doing 55hr/week some of the time and 0hr/week most of the time.

Logically conceviable, but would require trememdous dicipline financially and some luck in finding gigs.

or

You could develop your own software as part of an independent entity, and then set a schedule and stick to it.

I've seen a few donationware projects outthere that seem to run that way, but you would have to have the tremendous luck of being able to make something useful with parttime work.

Logically conceviable, heck people do this, but the odds of looking for it and getting it? More people win the lottery.

or

If you live in a city, really all you need to do is find a job 5 minutes from your home and take a couple hours out of your day that way. It will feel like parttime compared to what you are doing now, and still probably have benifits.

OR

Find a job you love, and you won't mind working fulltime. Even if you think you don't have a social consciousness, try working for a company that does (like a B-corp or a charity). You won't feel like you are wasting your limited and precious time on earth so much if you spend your days making this place better.

Limit hours to 40 - or Make them Pay (2, Informative)

carpenter_bee (882328) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184585)

Okay, follow me here - FLSA (Federal Labor Standards Act) exempts computer professionals from getting time for working more than 40 hours per week. However, this federal law does not trump any state law. For example, Pennsylvania law specifically requires employers to pay time and a half for hourly paid computer professionals working over 40 hours per week. Now, this can at least keep your hours reasonable in an IT worker friendly state like Pennsylvania. More important, if your employer refuses to pay that overtime, the state will come after them, since the state gets taxes on that overtime.

My advice... (2, Interesting)

writermike (57327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184587)

It's not completely unrealistic.

(( tl;dr - Find a one-man show who needs help with current workload and is willing to contract out. ))

Let me tell you my quick story: I've been in IT most of my professional life, having made a lateral move from printing (prepress) into working for a hard/software developer in the field. A few years later, after running my own show for about five years, I worked for a helpdesk.

I didn't like working at this helpdesk, but I kept chalking up my displeasure to personal concerns. In the end, I was trying to fit into a management role and I hated management. My anxiety and depression (as I am inclined to) kept building to a point where I literally walked out one day with a serious bent toward harming myself.

Despite my situation, I needed work. I set out to find work in which I could set my own schedule. Now, I _hoped_ for part-time work, but was willing to do full-time if that's all that was available.

The first thing I did is leverage _all_ my contacts. I interviewed with companies with which I already had worked with or employed people I knew. When they asked me about availability, I told them "I would prefer part time, but we can talk about full time."

One contact was a guy who was in the same situation I was during my business' run. I had loads of work, but didn't know how hire or manage people. I never really solved that issue, but he was committed to trying. I started working for him part-time. Today, I work 4 days a week at about 4-6 billable hours a day. The rate is generous.

Now, initially, the hours available were pretty low. (Considering my mental state, I was happy to have a lot of time out.) What's key, however, is that as I learned his customer base and their needs, the customers realized that my colleague's business was simply more available. So, the customers started making more requests and, now, the company has the ability to serve the requests. My hours increased and I can do more if I want.

So, like any other search, you have to network. You have to state what you want, but be willing to compromise. Be nice. Be humble. Be enthusiastic.

Re:My advice... (1)

drspliff (652992) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184805)

I'd love to do something similar, but most companies I've left have been on not so good terms due to personal illness (high stress & chronic depression etc.).

Sucks to be me I suppose.

Independent Contractor (1)

foo fighter (151863) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184621)

This is a text book case of time to become an independent contractor.

You choose your work. You choose your hours. It's can be a little scary, but too, it's the foundation of the American dream.

Get a lawyer, get an accountant, and get a mentor.

Then live the dream!

Re:Independent Contractor (1)

noldrin (635339) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184695)

This is very true. Especially if you can specialize in a high paid skill that might not have constant demand. Some network guys work 8 months a year while taking home 80K. As for regular employment, my company used to have a part time guy, but he got paid at far less per hour on top of that.

Re:Independent Contractor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184927)

Or go with Solo W-2, Inc. for your back office support and benefits. http://SoloW2.com/

I've been with them for a while now. For the 6% they charge for their services, I found I couldn't put together the same comprehensive benefits, insurance, accounting, and support infrastructure in a small business for the fee they charge. They provide some economies of scale by providing those services for many otherwise independent consultants.

Tell them Doug S. referred you and I get a 1% referral benefit. They have no maximum limit on referrals, so you can reduce the overhead to 0% or less with enough referrals.

Take a full time job and don't show up. (4, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184627)

Well, if you are really bold, you could take a full time job and just not show up sometimes. Sooner or later, you will get fired, but, if you can keep the balls up in the air you might be able to make it work for a year or two, and, you'll make a lot more money. Let's face it, there's plenty of people that simply do not do anything except show up, so, it might not be too hard to give output comparable them..

Don't (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184641)

Honestly, I wouldn't go independent to work part time. I guarantee you'll have the same struggle you see now with yourself all the time. Most consultants bring in good money on being more flexible, more "do what it takes" than your salaried employees, unless you work for huge consulting companies which is different but not better for part-time either. If you don't run into it yourself as in "taking both those will be good money" it'll come to you as "well, if you can't come in now we won't renew your contract". If you want to work part-time, find a company or even better educational or private sector who has a decent staff where you'll be one of a group. At least for the operations part of IT having somenoe who might not be there when you really need them is a big no-no. If you can negotiate your way into a position that handles planning, upgrades, policies, routines, scripting and all sorts of regular work that fits a schedule you can make it as long as they feel safe that there's someone else to pick up the phone when all went to hell at 3AM. Or at least you're not the first in line to be called.

skillset maintenance (2, Insightful)

chappel (1069900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184681)

I suspect only working part time in IT would make it difficult to maintain a current skillset. I seem to learn something from just about every project I do - and I'd hate my job if I didn't. Only working part time gives you fewer opportunities to learn new things, stay current with what you already know, and keep up with the constant changes compared to a full-time co-worker. Unless you really focused on keeping up - which I find tougher to do without a specific (job related) task associated with it, you are going to fall behind over time, and you'll be lucky to get any job in IT.

Why not do temp work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184683)

If you're at a point where you don't want to work as many hours and don't mind the reduction in pay and benefits, then hire on with one or more temp agencies. Work the jobs you want, when you want. If you don't like the work at one assignment, request another. Of course if you become too choosy, the temp agency will stop calling about available jobs, but that's the risk you take in this economy.

Part time IT == Intern (1)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184689)

The only part time tech work I had was as an intern or working at a University doing tech support for one of the colleges. Working at the University required being a student.

Otherwise there's probably very little chance of getting part time work.

Find one in non-IT firm. (1)

jozmala (101511) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184693)

I'm part time IT worker. The company is small non-IT firm. No-ONE except me knows any programming, everyone does something else. There is really little work there, but it MUST be done, and you cannot really swap that guy all the time since it takes lots of time to learn the things required to do the work, so it needs to be in-house job.
How I got it? A friend was before me there and his last task was to find someone for his job, when he switched to full time position elsewhere.

Try smaller businesses (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184701)

Try smaller businesses. They may not be able to afford multiple full time staff but still have need for programmers. Personally I would love to have a part time programmer helping me out, but it is very hard to find any.

Work at a unionized non-profit (2, Interesting)

e-scetic (1003976) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184715)

The benefits are twofold.

Unionized workplaces usually have a lot of flexibility in terms of hours, part-time, mat/pat leave, benefits, leave of absence, etc. The only way to lose your job is to do something really stupid and indefensible, your employer can't just sack you, they have to prove their case.

Working at a non-profit means profit isn't the be all and end all, the focus is on service instead. There's a different mentality and work philosophy, people work at non-profits mostly because they're either useless at any other job or they really do believe in the cause.

Of course, this combo is guaranteed to keep your wages down...

Nobody wants to work in IT.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184723)

If you like computers and your hobby... If you're a good programmer who knows howto write C code that uses OpenGL, SDL and all that creative stuff that makes coding fun...

Stay the hell away from IT... all those incompetent buzzwords and people will give you cancer..

I'm looking for a part-time sysadmin. (1)

earache (110979) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184735)

If your a systems admin and live in or around NYC, message me. I have plenty of part time work.

Re:I'm looking for a part-time sysadmin. (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185271)

What platform?

Work more to work less (1)

fleebait (1432569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184737)

If you're asking the question, then likely you don't have what it takes. The secret is to find that part time work -- in addition to the current job, and then when it pays off, quit the regular job. To control you own hours, you have to TAKE control. My last boss encouraged extra work. It didn't matter if it was in-house, or outhouse.

Re:Work more to work less (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26185059)

It didn't matter if it was in-house, or outhouse.

Please .. . don't elaborate.

tough but not impossible (1)

onegear (802747) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184761)

Well, I don't know if it's unrealistic but I'm sure it's going to be tough. I worked in the IT department and Info Security department for a large company for more than 10 years. About 2 years ago, I resigned to go out on my own. At first, I was so busy I couldn't keep up. This past year, however, has been tough. I still have work here and there but I've put the resume back out there looking for a "real" job. I told myself that I would never work "for the man" again but I have a family to support. I'm still going to do consulting. It's just going to be in the evenings, weekends, and free time.

It works in non-IT companies (1)

Saishu_Heiki (969303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184819)

I worked for several years as part-time IT. The key is that the company was an nanoengineering R&D company. Everyone there was brilliant, but could do little with computers besides email and filling forms. I was the only IT employee for the company, but it worked because the entire company was roughly 50 people. I maintained the servers, installed the PCs, fixed the printers, and did break-fix on everything. Even with all that, 25-30 hours a week left me time to continue my education. It can be done, but from my experience it only really works at smaller companies that do not employee tech-savvy people for other roles.

Doesn't work (3, Informative)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184849)

As someone who did exactly what you are trying to do I can tell you that while the arrangement was ok for me, it wasn't that great for my employer. What happened was that I decided to quit my job as a developer because I was starting a business (not IT related) and wanted to devote more time to it. Since we were in the middle of a pretty major project, my boss tried to persuade me to stay and after a bit of wrangling we settled on a 3 day week, Mon to Wed.

The problem is, on most IT projects you don't work by yourself. And other people on the team are still there when you are not and face a choice of either calling you on your days off (in which case you might as well work full-time) or assigning your tasks to other people and working around the fact that you're not there (in which case your role will be increasingly marginalized to the point where you might as well not be there at all). It's not just a matter of scheduling. Unexpected things pop out all the time and since we were working on a deadline it was a major annoyance for people to postpone say a conference call where I was needed by 5 days (say Thursday to Monday) etc.

I guess it depends on the circumstances, but generally I would ask a question what's in it for the employer? If you are absolutely essential to them and there is no other way they can keep you then great, but in most cases they might as well hire a full time person instead.

Home repairs are booming (1)

spywhere (824072) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184933)

Four years ago, I hung my shingle (in the local Yellow Pages) and "retired" from corporate IT. I fix home computers for ninety bucks an hour. I have about 700 customers so far, and almost all of them would call me exclusively for future repairs. I pick up at least two or three -- sometimes a dozen or more -- new customers per week through the ad in the phone book.
It's truly a part-time job: some days I'm swamped, and other days I'm dead in the water... but I set my own schedule, and I have a very low overhead (the phone book ad is the biggest line item).

If you have a reliable car, are very skilled at desktop support, and don't mind dealing with people, it's a great way to go.

Re:Home repairs are booming (1)

Saishu_Heiki (969303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184955)

I contemplated doing this a few years back, but did not have the courage to go through with it. Mostly because of the unknown.

What types of repairs do you do mostly? Is it mostly dead NICs, or setting up new PCs, or something else entirely?

Re:Home repairs are booming (1)

Genocaust (1031046) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185019)

I'd also love to hear more about the specifics of this. It's something I've dreamed of, but never given a real hard look at.
Though, with changing jobs and moving coming up in about 9 months, this may be a good venue for me :)

Part time programmer (1)

Leolo (568145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184943)

This is something I've been saying for years : 40 hours a week is "part time" for a programmer.

I do it now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184963)

I work part time right now as a sysadmin - but it's dangerous. I'm considered a "temp" even though I have no set end date. When the shit hits the fan, guess who's first to go? In today's market - I'd say it's better to stick it out full time, otherwise you'll constantly get the feeling you are on the chopping block.

Successful part-timer (1)

mhrivnak (752549) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184981)

I am fortunate to be working part-time on a small development team. I target 20 hours per week, but that fluctuates with other things in my life. We have three full-time developers and two part-time. For me, the key is staying engaged on our project's email list. Even when I'm doing other things, I check that list many times a day and respond to issues as they come up. I get to do a lot of the design work, and that comes with the responsibility of making myself available and communicating well, even when off-site.

IT vs ST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184991)

"Maybe a career in toilet cleaning is calling me."

Information Technology/Sanitation Technology.

What's the difference? Either way you usually end up dealing with the end users crap in one way or another.

why am i replying to my own question??? (4, Interesting)

capsteve (4595) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185007)

i starting reading your question and was wondering when i penned this question to slashdot... but i realize that there are many of us out there with similar stories.

i too have worked in IT fulltime for 12 years, and i've always been in positions which required working above and beyond the standard 40 hour work week. in the beginning i used to envy my 40 hour co-workers, but then i started putting things into perspective:

+ i don't punch a timeclock.
+ although i am consistent in my arrival and departure time, my time is flexible enough that i can come and go as i please.
+ my lunch hour can be as short as 30 minutes, or as long as a couple of hours.
+ i'm often taken out to lunch by various vendors(existing and potential) to discuss new products, services, etc.
+ the company pays for my cell phone(i know it's a leash, but i'm also not limited in my usage).
+ i get equipment refreshes with a higher frequency then most users(save owners and other bigwigs).
+ i have more technology in my cube/office than several co-workers combined.
+ i can wear what i want.
+ i usually set my own agenda for my work week.
+ i'm often involved in interesting projects, many of the involving exploratory research regarding cost, deployment, etc, stuff that actually is challenging.
+ i'm a techno-god in the eyes of my co-workers.
+ i get a regular paycheck.
+ i have ability to authorize up to $5000 purchases per P.O.(no limit on number of P.O.s... how did that happen?...)
+ i get reimbursed on work related expenses.
+ i get paid vacations and official holidays.
+ i get to go home to my family and leave work behind from time-to-time.

of course on the downside:
- i get stuck holding the bag when technology misbehave.
- i have to work long hours from time to time.
- sometimes there just isn't someone to hand things off to, so i have to see things thru to the end.
- there often isn't anyone else to blame.
- i don't always get compensated for my time appropriately.
etc...
etc...
i can go on and on with the plusses and minusses, but the bottomline for me, i'm better off workin' for the man, and not for myself. you need to run a +/- list for yourself and see how it shakes out. work less? and you're thinking of going into business for yourself? pull your head out of your ass!
your gonna work harder and longer when you work for yourself, for a while(months, maybe even years)...
and you bring your work home with you...
and you can't take a day off 'cause your sick...
and you can't just up and quit cause your boss is an asshole...

why don't you ask for a different compensation schedule? or maybe a flex schedule? track how many hours you work(regular and overtime) and see if you qualify for overtime pay in your state/country. ask your employer to pay for your cell and home internet connection(so it's less money out of your pocket). start becoming creative about how you are compensated for your work, and maybe not just money...

sometimes i wish i was a bricklayer: only responsible for making sure that my shit is level, straight and plumb, and be able to leave all my work behind at the end of the day, but alas, that's not my lot. oh well, maybe the next reincarnation.

Be a Contractor (1)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185079)

For my first job out of College, I was a contractor.

Many of the contractors I worked with loved it because they would take long vacations in between gigs. They also were able to control their hours and avoid death marches.

Contractors are also easily fired, which means that when working with contractors; those who write bad code are given the boot very quickly!

Could almost be ideal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26185165)

I had a part-timer helper once. I sub-contracted some work to him to create a PHP page that queries a mysql database to update some stats on a web page. For the job spec I wrote a simple page that gave an idea of what I wanted with the relevant data and my hacked together SQL. Turned it over to him as a guideline. It took him a week to reformat the columns and then he tried to charge me for 40hours of work at $80/hr.

Then next part timer decided that he wanted to work part-time but still pull down the $2K bi-weekly he was making before. $150/hr seemed perfectly reasonable to him. His Java was not much better than mine (which is alarming because I can barely get "Hello, World!" to work). His perl was worse.

I did eventually find one college student looking for some beer money. He produced a whole bunch for about 6 months then went on to better things. (Beer money worked out to around $75/hr).

Yes, there are small consulting agencies willing to hire part-timers. From a benefits standpoint it's a good deal, but many agencies contract on a project basis. Any particular employee tends to give about 75% of the day working and the rest browsing the web and doing relatively non-productive stuff (**). An agency can take this into account. If they are loaded with part-timers then they could jeopardize deadlines even if they have the equivalent hours. I.e., if it takes half an hour each day to prep for work, then that's 1/16 of an 8-hour person's day, but 1/8th of a part-timer's.

(**) Coding is stressful and 25% non-prod time is not too bad.

Many Costs Don't Scale (4, Interesting)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185277)

If you work three days a week - 60% of the time...

Your computer doesn't cost 60%.

Your software licenses aren't 60% either.

That desk you use didn't cost 60% as much.

The office space to put your desk in doesn't cost 60% as much.

The HR department doesn't only do 60% of the work for you.

Your health insurance doesn't only cover 60% of you - you either insure or don't insure a person.

And so on.

As a rule of thumb, most employees cost their companies 2-4 times the cost of their full time salary. Take a hypothetical $50,000/year salary. Cost to the company may well be around $200,000 a year. You take a pay cut to $30,000 in exchange for working 40% less, that $200,000 cost has just dropped to $180,000 or only 10% less. They're paying 10% less to get 40% less value out of you. Hardly a good deal. Admittedly, many costs do scale - 401k matching only matches what you pay, taxes are relative to salary, etc. Still, those that don't ensure the argument's not in your favor.

Worked in reverse, it makes it painfully obvious why companies like EA so famously loved forcing overtime, especially when they could get it unpaid, out of workers. Health insurance doesn't cost them any more for a 100 hour week than it does for a 40 hour week. Office space costs no more. Hardware and software costs no more. On purely mercenary terms, efficiencies come in with more hours, not less. You're asking them to do the opposite.

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