Q: I have to figure out a way to negotiate a part-time gig because the demands of this job make it impossible for me to have a life. I know it needs to make sense for their business and I will heavily leverage all the hard work I have provided (they love me). How do I ask for part-time work in a culture where everyone thinks 60-hour work weeks are OK?
A. First, of course they love you — you are probably doing the work of 2 or 3 people, which is pretty darn cost-efficient for them. This is your leverage because it means they can't replace you easily, especially if the rest of the staff is maxed out too (which is highly likely given your description of the culture). A few tips:
- You are in the driver's seat — your expertise is priceless.
- You know your job better than anyone, so make them an offer they can't refuse — for example, figure out how you take over one aspect of the work completely, bring value no one else can, and solve a management headache.
- Ask for a job share, and do your homework on who could be your other half (probably another beleaguered colleague who will thank you). Or offer to train a new person.
- Make peace with losing some of your power — knowledge IS power, and if you are not spending every waking minute on the company's agenda somebody else may get to do more work on a project than you do. Lucky them! That is the trade you are making for getting your life back, and it is well worth it.
You can create the life YOU want and deserve (and maybe help your colleagues get some perspective). Either way, don't lose your resolve. Set a deadline for when you will stop full-time work — then see how much better you feel once you detox from workaholism in your life.