From Mon Jul 16 22:32:39 2001
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001 17:34:02 -0500 (CDT)
From: Michael Givel <>
Subject: [toeslist] Working part time no bed of roses: study
Article: 122839
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Working part time no bed of roses: study B.C. researchers discover downside

By Virginia Galt, Globe & Mail, Monday 9 July 2001

Part-time work is not as idyllic as it may appear to envious full-timers, according to new Canadian research published this week in the Harvard Business Review.

Professionals who work part-time must go to extreme lengths to make the arrangements acceptable to their employers and colleagues, wrote British Columbia academics Vivien Corwin, Thomas Lawrence and Peter Frost.

A common pitfall is the tendency to compress a full-time workload into part-time hours—for part-time pay, they found. Even with the compressed schedule, however, work still encroaches on what is supposed to be family time.

It is not necessarily a panacea for striking a balance between work and life, the researchers wrote.

The researchers interviewed a mother who confessed to sending an ill child to school in order to attend business meetings and prove her commitment. They also interviewed a co-worker irked by a part-time colleague who would swan out of the office at noon on Wednesdays, wishing everyone else a good weekend.

She didn't win many friends, observed Ms. Corwin, a consultant in leadership development and human resource management and an associate faculty member at Royal Roads University in Victoria.

Many part-timers are forced to work longer hours than they contracted for, and many suffer under the second-class status of part-time work, the researchers found as part of a wide-ranging study on how employees in Canada and the United States balance the competing demands of work and home life.

At the same time, part-time work makes organizations uncomfortable. It raises obvious questions about who will pick up the slack, they wrote in their Harvard Business Review article.

Nonetheless, an estimated 10 per cent of professionals work part-time—primarily for family reasons—and those interviewed by the B.C. research team reported that the tradeoffs are worth it.

Ms. Corwin, who is expecting her first baby next month, said in an interview that her research was inspired by personal interest as well as an academic interest in what makes part-time arrangements work for both employers and employees.

Every successful part-timer in our study had some trick for staying visible in the organization despite the many hours spent away from work, the researchers wrote. They stay in touch by e-mail or voice mail and do not discourage calls at home if a work issue comes up, Ms. Corwin said.

Ms. Corwin, Mr. Lawrence, an associate professor at the University of Victoria's faculty of business, and Mr. Frost, a professor of organizational behaviour at the University of British Columbia's faculty of commerce, interviewed 30 professionals who work part-time, including engineers, financial analysts, information technology specialists and consultants. They also sought the views of 28 of their managers and co-workers.

It takes time, energy and creativity to make a part-time arrangement work, and the onus is usually on the employee. The most successful part-timers are upfront about their priorities and are clear about when they are available for work and when they are not.

Successful part-timers also demonstrate to their employers that the work is still getting done, well and on time, they wrote, and they often have a champion in senior management.

Lesya Balych-Cooper of Bank of Montreal is one such champion of flexible work arrangements, including permanent part-time.

It takes a lot of hard work between the manager and the employee to find something that fits, said Ms. Balych-Cooper, BMO's vice-president of employee programs and workplace equality. However, there is a business case to be made for helping employees balance their work and family lives, she said an in interview.

It increases motivation and it improves job performance.

The B.C. researchers report that many managers are not as receptive as Ms. Balych-Cooper.

Adding part-time professionals to the staff definitely complicates a manager's life, they wrote. Suddenly, you are called upon to determine what constitutes a fair schedule and workload.

Most part-time arrangements are still ad hoc, many professionals working part-time report that they are overlooked when bonuses are handed out, and many feel out of the loop professionally.

Most part-timers told us they accepted the consequences of their status as part of the deal. But they also said that sometimes their confidence was eroded, and they questioned whether the arrangement was worth the effort.