How to Ask for Part-Time Hours at Work

If you’re dreaming of having some undisturbed time to work on your side-hustle in the week, you’re not alone. Many of us side-hustlers look at going part-time as a stepping stone to one day going the whole hog and leaving our 9-5’s behind.

For me that was certainly the case. Going part time at work served me well in my journey to taking my side-hustle full-time. It gave me the opportunity to experience what working for myself full-time would be like and allowed me to experiment in my business without a huge financial risk.

How to ask for part-time hours at work, so you can make more time for your side-hustle

I hope these pointers give you the best possible chance of getting a ‘yes’ to your request for part-time hours at work. 

Talk about your side-hustle at work

If my colleagues weren’t already aware of my side-business, my request for part-time hours would have come as a bit of a surprise. Sharing my side-hustle at work came about quite organically, people would see me sharing my products and talking about my business on social media and a few of them would start to ask me what I was working on.

I was relieved and comforted to find that my colleagues were genuinely interested and supportive. Some would even let me in on their ideas for their own side-hustle they dreamed of starting. If the idea of talking about your side-hustle at work scares the living daylights out of you, you’re not the only one. In fact a lot of side-hustlers struggle with this. Break yourself in to it gently by speaking to the colleagues you’re closest to about it, mention that it’s what you’ll be doing at the weekend and slowly build up your confidence with sharing your side-hustle at work. 

Share the benefits of having a side-hustle

There are lots of benefits to your 9-5 from you having a side-hustle. Think about all of the experience and knowledge you’re picking up by managing your own website, marketing your business, managing your own projects as well as developing yourself through learning and business experience. This is something Supal talks about in episode 31 of my podcast, On The Make. She says having a side-hustle helps you stand out from the crowd, it gives you an edge. It shows you’re a hard-working, well-rounded person. So next time a topic comes up in a meeting that reminds you of something you learned in a business podcast or by building your own website from scratch share the knowledge. Show just how much value you’re adding to your company by having a side-hustle. 

Notebooks and a cup of tea on a blanket | Josephine Brooks

Ask for a meeting and follow up in writing

So, you’re ready to ask for those part-time hours at work you longingly daydream about. These kinds of requests are always better communicated in person. I know it might feel more uncomfortable than just firing off an email but the chances are it’s also harder to ignore you when it’s an in-person request. Plus, in a face to face conversation it’s far less likely that anything you say is going to get lost in communication and you can demonstrate how serious you are about your request by approaching it in a really professional way. Fire off an email to your boss asking for 30minutes of their time or put a catch up in their diary, let them know that you want to talk about flexible working hours.

Put your case together

When I approached work to ask if I could go part-time I went with a case to support my request. This document showed exactly what impact this change would have on my working hours and what I’d deliver in my next project. To give a little more context, I was finishing up on one project before picking up the next, this seemed a good time to ask for part-time hours. I made a case to show how we could make efficiencies in delivering the next project I was working on, I also shared the cost saving to the project from paying me for 4 days a week rather than 5. I focussed my case on the benefit to my company and showed how the project could still be delivered on four days a week by making a few efficiencies.

Look for an opportunity such as a change in work pattern or projects coming to an end that might lend itself as a good time to make your request. Put your case together and make it all about the company, rather than you wanting to spend more time on your business. Show the benefits to your company of reducing your hours and explain how your role and workload will be when you go down to part-time hours.  

Notebooks piled up on cosy blanket

Be really clear on what you’re asking for

Before you go into your meeting get really clear on what you’re asking for so that you can avoid any vagueness. Decide what hours and days you’d like to work, when you’d like to start this new working pattern. Get this all into writing so that once you’ve had your meeting you can ping it over in an email with an; as discussed, please see attached… (I’m not going to miss corporate email speak)! That will make you look super professional and serious about your request. 

Make it a statutory request

Under the law on flexible working you can make a statutory request for flexible working hours. This means that your employer needs to consider your request for flexible working seriously and complete the process (including any appeals) within three months. When you send over your email, make sure you add ‘this is a statutory request’ clearly in the email and any attachment you send over. This should encourage your employer to treat your request seriously and means they’re bound to the three month turnaround time. I would hope you’ll get an answer quicker than that but this helps to add some gravitas to your application. 

I’m cheering you on with this exciting step!

If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this. Position your request from your company’s point of view, not yours. Make it about them, share the benefits it might bring them and explain the effect it would have on your role and the company. Try not to go in there feeling like you’re asking a huge favour of them, instead, go in with your case to present and confident to support your request by reminding them what enormous value you bring your company.

Want to go part-time in your 9-5 - the tools you need to request part time hours and flexible working at work