Hank Stoever
part time nerd, part time gnar.

Transitioning to Part Time and Remote in Software

posted almost 3 years ago - 3 min read

For the past two months I've been working remotely for the first time in my life. I'm also only working part time, at 20 hours a week. I absolutely love my scenario so I wanted to share some insights about what it's like.

Why?

I've always wanted to spend a winter as a 'ski bum', skiing every day. I thought I might take a gap year during college, but it never happened. My career as a software engineer is rolling. I decided that now is as good a time as any to spend a winter skiing every day.

How?

I've been working at UP Global for over a year, and I've enjoyed it. We get to work on interesting programs that help build thriving startup communities. I didn't want to get out of that job if I didn't have to. We have other remote workers, so I was confident that being remote would fly. But I also wanted to transition from full time to part time, so I could have more free time. That isn't as common.

I made the proposal - working 20 hours a week on an hourly contract. They agreed to the deal, and I was gone a few weeks later.

Tips on the Proposal

If you want to do this sort of thing, it's important to be mindful about how you present your offer to your superiors. It might throw them off a bit as they realize they're losing resources and are treading into less charted waters. Here are a few things you can emphasize to make the situation more approachable:

  • 50% less hours isn't 50% less output. Most managers understand diminishing returns, and I argued that I could get 75% of the work done in half the time. They agreed.
  • I'd be overly communicative about how I work. When you're gone, it's harder for peers to keep track of what you work on. Be diligent and responsive on email, in your task tracker, and wherever you collaborate.
  • I'd be more explicit about what I got done, with general estimates about how much time each task took.
  • I'd come back to town for the week that our entire team is in town.
  • I read the book Remote by 37 Signals, which includes every benefit you need to know about remote work. This comes in handing when bringing up remote work to your employer.

The Remote Life

One common tip for remote work is to keep a schedule. This helps you keep a steady day-to-day ryhythm just like a normal 9-5. You also want to keep some overlap with the rest of your co-worker's hours. That way, you can chat in realtime and collaborate when needed. For me, my team works 9-5 in the same time zone as me, so my usual hours are 3pm-7pm every afternoon. This allows me to ski for a full day before starting work.

This way of life is so much more rewarding than the standard 9-5 with 40 hours of work a week. My days don't feel dominated by work with a commute. I'm lucky to be able to live off a 20 hour work week, but there are lots of people who can afford that. It forces you to spend your money more wisely, but that's easy to do with the extra free time.

Have you ever wanted to spend more time doing something then you can with a full time job? Think about living wherever you want, working remotely, and spending your time more wisely.

Feel free to contact me or comment below with any questions!

If you're interested in getting into software as a means of living this kind of life, I'm working on a guide that you might like.

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