Wisdom//

Achieving More Work-Life Balance: Tips On How to Transition From Full-Time to Freelance With Your Current Employer

How to negotiate working less hours while remaining at your company.

Nazar Abbas Photography/Getty Images
Nazar Abbas Photography/Getty Images

To be successful in New York, we’re told, you have to work harder and longer than you ever imagined, sacrificing personal relationships, sleep and sometimes even health for your career. If you don’t, the fear of a younger and more ambitious replacement pushes you to sacrifice everything for your job. Is this just a myth? Can you find success in New York without working 60 plus hours a week?

In the land of abundant opportunity, we believe career comes first and a personal life comes second. Thus, many New Yorkers shuffle to and from work completely exhausted and burnt out from their jobs. Victoria T. and Elizabeth T. are two New York women who previously worked full time in senior positions for top multinational organizations. They found a way to continue to work for these corporations, but as contractors who set their own hours and schedules, because that worked well for them. Here are tips on how they successfully approached their employers with the idea of transitioning from full-time to freelance.

Know Your Value

It’s very intimidating to walk into your employer’s office and ask for a change in your workload. First, position yourself as an asset to the company, one they don’t want to lose.

“From your boss’s point of view, it’s more difficult to find and train someone new. You are established in the company and don’t have to relearn your role. This saves your employer time which will help the company and team in the end,” Victoria says.

Also, if you have been with the organization for a while, your skill set and work ethic are proven through experience. Your boss already knows you can perform your job function and doesn’t want to spend the time or resources necessary to find a replacement for your position when you have already demonstrated your worth. Remind your boss of all you are capable of and have confidence that you bring a significant amount of value to the table when you are negotiating your hours.

Be Very Clear In What You Want

Like any conversation in life, it is vital to be very transparent about what you need. The last thing you want is to come across as ungrateful for your current opportunity. If you are simply too overwhelmed to be working 15-hour days, explain to your boss that you are willing to give up your full-time role in exchange for working as a contractor from home for five hours (or whatever amount feels reasonable for you) a day. Offer to take a pay cut in exchange for decreased hours and a better quality of life.

Communicate that you still want to be a part of the company and that you value the organization’s purpose. Emphasize how much you enjoy working for your employer and wish to continue doing so but on a freelance basis. Lay out a specific plan for how you can still contribute to the team with your skill set, but as a contractor. Find out how you can be beneficial to your corporation by working as a freelancer, and offer a clear and simple outline of how you can help the organization in that capacity.

Elizabeth says, “In general, I think it’s extremely important, especially for women, to be confident, transparent, and make no apologies for what they want or what works for them. Being able to define your own parameters and limitations in the office, while also voicing how important the company and its mission is to you and your professional growth, is empowering.

If you’re unable to commit your full self, staying as productive and efficient as the company demands, I think it’s important to recognize that and take a step back—you’ll ultimately be happier and more productive, and in return, the company will be happier with your performance and the resources saved.”

Be Ready To Hear No

When you sit down with your employer and explain that you want a change in your current role, be ready to hear no. By putting all your chips on the table, be prepared financially and emotionally for your boss not to be on board. There is always the possibility that you may have to walk away from the company and your position entirely. If this is financially feasible, it may be worth the risk. However, by laying out a plan of how you can benefit your employer by working as a freelancer and proving your value, negotiating your office hours is definitely achievable.

It is possible to work for an amazing company in New York City while putting in less hours, and in return, creating a balance for your personal needs. It takes confidence to ask for what you really want but in the end, your quality of life is worth it.

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