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Perhaps this is a good thread to pose this question.

I am a front-end engineer in my early twenties. Right now, 40+ hours a week is doable and I am paid well, but I don't need all of the money I'm earning. I would gladly take a 50% salary cut and work ~20 hours a week.

The only problem with this is that I feel like this is a risky thing to bring up with an employer. Has anyone ever had any success getting a good part-time job or downsizing your position at a company? Every listing for part-time I see seems to be for someone with a lesser skillset.

Even if your company offers it, you should be careful about taking it. There are a few downsides:

- Your advancement and promotion chances are basically zero in such a position. Not due to some conspiracy, but just because you're not around for half of the conversations people are having about the direction of the product/team.

- If it isn't standard practice for the whole team, they all start to slightly hate you, no matter the pay difference. Need drewb's input? Oh, it's Tuesday; that will have to wait until Thursday when special-boy is back in the office. I've seen this over and over (including on my own teams) with people who had been granted special work accommodations, and there's nothing you can really do about it, even as a manager.

If you want more time to yourself, I would much more highly recommend attempting to negotiate regular unpaid leaves of absence for a couple of months. Travel the world; really unplug from work; etc. It's both easier to fit into your career and your company's plans.

Or just go into consulting and only take n-month contracts that fit your lifestyle needs.

This is one of those annoying problems of working remotely.

Unfortunately if you are working from home, you might be building mountains. But no one is seeing you do it, what that generally means is unless you announce explicitly what you are doing people think you are doing nothing.

Contrary to whatever one thinks and the truth is. Perceptions matter a lot more than the reality.

> Unfortunately if you are working from home, you might be building mountains. But no one is seeing you do it, what that generally means is unless you announce explicitly what you are doing people think you are doing nothing.

I don't announce anything unless you count commits and issue tracker updates. I am being paid for my work. Those who pay me give me the requirements and know it very well what is being done. Well, since they are paying for it and want it done, how can they not know what is being done?

>>how can they not know what is being done?

If only the world worked on facts, and not perceptions...

Again, I have to disagree with you 100%. :)

I posit that "this" is one of those annoying problems of working. If you don't make sure you communicate your success, you won't be successful. People who don't celebrate, share and broadcast their success usually aren't successful. Even when they are in the office 100% of the time.

Software is generally a winner-take-all market. Software has zero marginal cost, so the company with the most revenue can invest the most upfront into making a better product, giving it even more revenue. Furthermore, in most cases there is little incentive for customers to ever use the second best product in a segment. So when building software, you not only have to meet the customers needs, you have to meet the customer needs better than any competitor. If you produce a product that is half as good or improve the product half as quickly, you do not lose just half your revenue, you could lose all of it.

The second aspect of software development is that a developer working 40 hours a week is more productive than two developers working 20 hours a week. With the sole developer, there less communication overhead, less management overhead, and the ratio of productive time to time learning the system and understanding the interlocking parts is higher. This is the classic mythical man month problem.

The third aspect of software development is that directly measuring output and effort of an engineer is very difficult. So as a proxy, managers look for signs of passion and engagement. If you are passionate and smart, but are slow to implement some feature, management will believe the feature was simply more difficult than anticipated. If you generally are not passionate about your work, and are slow to implement some feature, management will think you are slacking and fire you. Creating an effective company requires creating a culture of passion and hardwork, and having one person only work part-time can decrease the morale of those putting in 40+ hours. Asking to only work half-time betrays a lack of passion, and could be a bad career move.

So the net result of these factors is that a company must work at maximum efficiency, and maximum efficiency comes when all developers are working 40+ hours a week. It is not in the company's interest to let you work only 20 hours a week, and it could indeed be risky if you bring the idea up with management.

I should also note that the above dynamic is not just the case in software, but in virtually all high paying jobs, from professional athlete to corporate lawyer to corporate executive. Virtually all high paying jobs have some sort of competitive, winner take all dynamic in the market at large (the winners being the ones who get paid well), and within the company, the high paid people are the ones with specialized, hard to replace skills, that have a large ramp up time to learn effectively (learning a large code base, learning a set of legal traditions, learning how to hit a curveball, etc, etc). Thus in order to earn the high pay you must work long hours, and you must work many productive hours on top of a base of ramping-up hours.

One way around this, if you want work/life balance, is to timeslice on much longer increments, like a couple of years instead of a couple of days. Put in the long hours at the demanding job for a few years until you have a shippable product and demonstrable, tangible successes. Then take a year off to travel, found a startup, work on an open-source project, volunteer, or otherwise decompress, using the savings you got from the high-paying job before.

For some reason, taking a year off to travel, volunteer, or experience the world isn't looked at in the same negative career light that wanting to only work part-time is, particularly if you have demonstrable successes at your last employer. It shows passion, engagement, and the ability to take responsibility for your own life, and many employers assume that will transfer over to your job performance at your next job. You're at a slight disadvantage in salary negotiations because they don't have to lure you away from your existing job, but you can make up for this by applying to many jobs (ideally through connections) at once.

I've heard it's also better on the "life" side of things as well, as you can throw your whole being into whatever you experience in your free time, and not just settle for the scraps you can fit around your job.

I've know a couple of people who did this, at even smaller increments that this... Worked 6-9 months, then took a similar amount of time off (to travel, pursue acting or some other endeavor, etc). If I had my twenties back, I'd give this a shot.. though I suspect I'd end up spending the 'off' time accidentally building a software company. Whoops.

I can vouch for this.

I took about a year off to explore alternative careers and personal pursuits after working at a tech firm for 3 years. I returned to the industry and was recruited within a few months back into a spinoff from my original firm.

Of course, this presupposes that you maintain your skills, and that you don't burn any bridges when you leave.

This is exactly what a lot of companies and managers will try to tell you.. But it is a bunch of nonsense.

An actual 40 hour a week programmer is an awful asset, if we do more than ~20 hours of work a week the rest is bad code and the shit we are to tired of thinking about to fix/automate. The ones who work 50+ hours have forgotten that things can be automated or even pondered before diving in, or that are powerless to fix the accumulating breakage of their group/project/company.

That being said, a 20 hour a week engineer who is partying the remainder probably isn't great either.

I currently work 3 days a week, but I spend about half of the remainder studying things that interest me, mostly in CS or physical sciences. A few years back, I worked 2.5 days in tech support, while finishing up my BS.

I would say live and breathe it while you are there, you should be senior/mature enough that you don't require mentoring/sponsoring to do your job, be a bit humble about your immediate "importance" and handle those longer term pains, and have a nice (but unapologetic) explanation for how you spend your other time.

If overall I spend less than 25-30 hours a week thinking about the field then expect to gradually feel rusty. But then CS is not a good field to mentally slow down in.

Its true that if you make it rain by working 20 hours, you get to be the superstar of the team. But that's not possible, at least not in 90% of the scenarios.

Office as we know it, is more than a workplace for an individual. Its a place where people meet together to collaborate with each other. Its also a social network where people eat lunch, drink coffee and talk about life, and such stuff together. If you are not there 50% of the time, unfortunately I don't see how you will fit in with everybody else. Nobody likes calling and discussing things over phone/chat/email what could easily be discussed by meeting at ones cubicle and talking over it for 5 minutes.

Coding might be your 20 hour job, but the other 20 hours is many other things apart from coding. And trust me that is equally important for your career progression.

I respectfully submit that you are 100% wrong.

At least, you're wrong in stating your opinion so forcefully in the second two paragraphs after a (to me) flippant caveat in the first.

The important question isn't whether there're 10% scenarios where company cultures are actually meritocratic, but how much the proportion changes over time.

I'll submit my anecdotal evidence that it is growing. And my career continues to grow. In fact, I would say that the work culture at my company is why my career progression has grown. I'm invested and happy with my situation and therefore work smarter by not overextending myself in the ambition of being there at least 50% of the time just to be there so I can fit in.

In fact, I work remote most of the time and so do I good portion of my colleagues.

>>I work remote most of the time and so do I good portion of my colleagues.

That is the reason why working remote is helping you. Since most of your colleagues are working remotely too.

In Rome, behave like a Roman.

When I say a good proportion, I should clarify that I mean anyone can work remote any time that they feel like but most people still show up at the office because they enjoy being at the office working with their coworkers. 99% of the time our clients are remote too.

I'd submit that remote work is neither helping me nor hurting me. Because the company culture recognizes the value of intrinsically motivated employees, we ensure that employees are happy. Working remote is one of the manifestations of that focus.

Specifically, working remote is orthogonal to my success in my career specifically but fundamental to my happiness and willingness to work towards a successful career in the first place. Does that clarify where I'm coming from?

> If you are not there 50% of the time, unfortunately I don't see how you will fit in with everybody else.

I am not there 100% of the time and I fit just fine.

> Nobody likes calling and discussing things over phone/chat/email what could easily be discussed by meeting at ones cubicle and talking over it for 5 minutes.

I like email, wiki, IM and issue trackers. Gather your damn thoughts and put then in writing. Dropping by in-person or skype calls are for stage setting. And what makes you think I like being interrupted by someone for something that can be said in the IM?

Oh, and it wasn't any different when I was holding a day job.

I checked your profile and you are the founder of a start up :)

Of course since you are a hacker yourself so you are likely to be open to such a environment which you yourself like working in. But I'm talking of a general corporate job kind of a scenario where a lot of people work together in collaboration. Things go a lot smoothly when every one works together, of course they can go smooth either way too. Provided everyone co operates, especially the managers.

The second aspect of software development is that a developer working 40 hours a week is more productive than two developers working 20 hours a week.

I am unsure that this is true in all circumstances.

So the net result of these factors is that a company must work at maximum efficiency, and maximum efficiency comes when all developers are working 40+ hours a week.

I know for a fact that this isn't always true - since I've repeatedly seen teams of developers doing 45+ hour weeks become more productive by every metric we had to hand by dropping their working week to 40 hours (with only about 6 hours a day of that being coding).

I talk about this in a little bit more over here before (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3883362)... copy/paste below.


There is something deeply broken about equating hours to productivity.

It's been my experience that folk are very good at deceiving themselves about their productivity (myself included :-)

One team I worked with had a serious problem with overtime. They were putting in stupid hours and it was showing in the quality of work going out. So I ran an experiment where we all agreed to work "normal" hours for six weeks.

I was "only" working about 45 hours a week at this point, when other people on the team were regularly working 50-60. I was relatively young, didn't have any family pressure, enjoyed my work and felt very productive doing those hours. I wasn't one of the people with a "problem" as I saw it. We were running the experiment for the other folk on the team.

In the experiment we dropped to a 40 hours week (6 hours coding per day, 2 hours for breaks, meetings & lunch). After a couple of weeks adjustment my productivity went way up. I also felt a lot better in myself - generally sharper and more on the ball.

People seem to have quite a wide bad of "this feels okay" that subsumes the much narrower "I'm performing at my best".

Also people don't jump from a 35 hour week to 60 hours a week. It creeps up a few minutes at a time as pressure increases on the team. People have enough time to adjust to it being "normal" and don't notice the drop in productivity that goes with it.

Currently I work roughly 25-30 hours a week and am just as productive by all metrics that I have available to me as when I worked 40-50.

I would strongly urge people to experiment. Pick some metrics, try working shorter hours for a month, see what happens.

(The only caveat I would add is that with folks doing silly hours - anything over 50 I would say - there is often a couple of weeks where things go to hell as the body adjusts. On the team from the story practically everybody caught a bug and felt crap for the first week or so before productivity rose again).

Agreed - when I started doing contracts solo, I found that I had around six hours of code in me, pretty much all in the morning and early afternoon. The last 2 or 3 hours I spent on "business" issues or writing scripts to help the business stuff or studying. In the middle of work, I'd take a 90 minute talk break or lunch break. My day was basically around 8:30 to 6:00. It was a long day, but not tiring or stressful, and things got done really quickly.

The real productivity killer, for me, is driving a lot. That really sucks it out of me. Face-time too. I could do a few meetings a day, but that's it.

I'm from India , wanted to ask how this logic applies to companies supplying IT Services instead developing original products.

This is a very well thought out and reasoned response. Thank you.

I did at a previous job. It was a small web development shop owned by a husband and wife, and around 7 employees. I was the lead developer there and getting bored with the work. I proposed that I work 3 days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and be paid 60% of my salary. I spent Tuesday and Thursday working on my side projects.

Eventually the company went out of business, but I had great success with working part time.

Were you actually only 60 % as productive? Otherwise it seems like a bad deal.

there is actually e-book with similar topic: Bring Back the 40-Hour Work Week http://jailfreebook.com/

I'm an engineering student right now but I know exactly how you feel. I like the content but the thought of working full time terrifies me. I spent a couple of months as an intern/observer in a company and I can't imagine devoting my life to work. It would almost certainly make me burn out in a year or two.

I've been looking into jobs that work few hours but are highly qualified and they're usually outside consultants that get called in a couple of days a week. Apart from them there was one person who worked in a refinery that only had to be at work 20ish hours a week. She spent most of the rest at home on call or simply working from home. I recall that she enjoyed it.

To me, making a 40 hour work week is not the same as "devoting my life to work". Obviously there is a relationship there, but even if you have two hours of travel time each workday, and you work 8 hours a day (add a half hour break), there is time to do other things than work on a workday.

Well I'd argue that it's definitely devoting your life to work. It's an activity that you spent a massive amount of daytime doing for most of your life. It may not be the only thing you devote your life to but it is definitely one of them and probably the largest one.

I've never been able to get up after a day of work and do something. I'm just done after working for 8 hours. I'd just sit and do nothing wait to recover "energy" and as soon as I recover back to normal work starts again.

That sense of exhaustion eventually goes away after a few months working full-time. That said, even now I feel the amount of interesting stuff I can do on a week day after work is pretty limited -- not just because of time, but because of brainpower. And you can't really use every weekend either, or you'll burn out fast. So a) make peace with getting a lot less done, or b) find a way not to work full time.

The break is part of your working hours. And if you live an hour from work, research shows you will be much happier if you move to within 20 minutes (even if this means you get "less" for your money.)

6 hours without reddit, hacker news, meetings, and other distractions, beats 9 hours with those things (as long as you're working on the right thing and not throwing away ALL your time :-)

IMO you should take a step back and evaluate what you're doing. If you're not passionate enough about engineering that you'd hate to do it 40 hours a week then you should reconsider your field.

Why not become a contractor and you are in control of how much you work because you really work for yourself? You might not control when you are on a project, but work hard for 3-4 months build up income, then when its done take some time off an live off what you built up. No need to leave money on the table because you don't think you need it now. Go travel, tour with your band, sit on your couch and eat cheesy poofs and pot pie, whatever. You can work as much or as little as you like.

Before you brush this off what you're talking about is a very tenuous relationship with your employer that isn't providing you any stability, AND more than likely you'll loose your benefits. Those are the same things you'd be giving up if you went freelance so there is little downside to freelance vs part time.

It depends on the company. The company I work for right now had a software architect that worked 3 days a week only for a couple of months or so before going full-time (I think he was building a multi-monitor helicopter flight sim setup if I remember it right). From my talks with our CEO it seemed like he was open to that idea.

I'm definitely going to do something like this in the future though, but I'm still contemplating whether the 20-hour, 50% salary cut idea is better than working full time and taking a sabbatical afterwards.

Seems like a good time to build a hefty savings and begin investing. I think if you were to go part-time, you'd lose some of your benefits. And if your employer is used to you working 40-hours, you might end up working more than 20-hours due to a higher workload.

Depends on your situation, and it can't hurt to bring it up. Maybe try winding down your hours progressively.

I think he _does_ want to invest, but in experiences during his early 20s, rather than by building his finances.

I have to agree with this. There's time and there's money. After graduating from college, I've taken a lot of time to re-learn math slowly. I've also studied a lot of neuroscience and machine learning on my own time. I also quit computers and taught English for two years and moved to a foreign country and spent some time working on my people skills. (Sadly, I'm back to computers now, with a "normal" job...)

For me, I'm happy that I invested my time into myself, rather than investing money into some mutual funds or something. Very happy.


I think many of the HN crowd has a slightly different mindset, since a lot of us are entrepreneurs. I'm in my early 20s, and am about to start working 40+ hour weeks for an early-stage startup. To me, this work _is_ a great experience. There's also the very small chance that we'll make it big and I'll be able to 'retire' and focus on my other passions. Even if we crash and burn, I won't consider that time wasted. The lessons learned will be invaluable, but I also hope to save enough to travel the world for a while, no matter what happens.

20 hour work weeks don't usually lead to more life experiences, in my experience. You just have more time to focus on side-projects or hobbies. You'll still be 'working' 40+ hour weeks, but dividing your time between different projects.

As someone commented before, if he wanted experiences, then he should take a few months of unpaid leave of absence, and go exploring the world.

> 20 hour work weeks don't usually lead to more life experiences, in my experience. You just have more time to focus on side-projects or hobbies.

Um, right, by focusing on side-projects and hobbies, you get more life experiences is the idea. Certainly you get more diverse life experiences.

I've seen a couple companies looking for exactly that recently (I'll see if I can find them), but I think you might have to adjust your numbers a bit... 50% cut in salary != hours/2 as it won't cover their fixed costs (like healthcare and G&A costs).

Or you can bank the excess cash and "retire" as soon as 4% of your savings equals your annual expenses. (Work hard to maximize your salary and minimize your expenses)

Between now and achieving that 4%, focus on excelling at the things you find the most interesting and building relationships in your industry so that once you cross the freedom line you can take on the occasional consulting gig to keep things interesting.

(I'm pushing 40 now and sincerely wish I had done the above when starting out in my twenties)

If I knew where to get a risk free, consistent 4% return these days ...

You won't get risk-free 4% return after inflation, but you can (probably) expect a 4% annual return on average if you put your money in the stock market. At least this is the assumption that the Norwegian Pension Fund, the world's largest stock market fund, operates with. Although it has been discussed to reduce this number to 3%.

The Norwegian fund also has a investment horizon better measured in centuries, not years, so it can afford to to wait out the huge stock market fluctuations in the expectation of that average return. A mere human, on the other hand...

Indeed. Tell me again why people say it's better to save for retirement as an individual...

Wow... I didn't know anything about the Norwegian Pension Fund. That's really cool. At a 2012 net worth of $654 Billion, it's greater than the country's debt ($548 Billion) and represents >$130k for each of Norway's 4.9 million people...

The "external debt" number quoted on Wikipedia is the total debt of all Norwegian companies to external debtors. And note that this is the gross number; I have no idea what the net number is but it is a lot smaller and might be negative.

The national debt is only 100 billion dollars, and is there primarily to ensure smooth trading with our trading partners. (It was roughly doubled due to liquidity measures in 2008, but supposedly some smart bond trading ensures that this won't have any dramatic effect with regards to making or losing money).

Thx for the pointer. I have to look into them. The issue I have is that history prior to 2000 is not valid going forward. You can say that I'm a disciple of Nasib Taleb's Fooled by Randomness.

Why isn't any history prior to 2000 still valid? We've had 10+ year secular bear markets before. I'm not arguing by authority here, but by Taleb's own arguments, it's just as likely that the pre-2000 history is still valid - there is just no way of knowing yet.

My personal thesis is that financial market history prior to 2K isn't valid. The world prior to widespread adoption of the the Internet was a different place. The Y2K cut off is a useful demarkation point ... that's when the tech euphoria went away :) I think this has something to do with the speed of information flow in a post-PC, connected world. That's the short of it anyways.

Half high yield bond funds, half blue chip stock funds, bank all earnings, re-balance once a year, and take out 4% a year from total. On average you will do just fine! (Check against history if you want to verify)

>"On average you will do just fine! (Check against history if you want to verify)"

Famous last words...

Besides the fact that the past does not predict the future, especially with something to do with human nature and economics, if everyone did the same thing, then there would be no return left (after inflation).

Also, some historical data from the S&P 500:


The 4% figure you hear about (usually in the "early retirement" circles) includes drawing down your principal gradually over time. Don't remember the numbers exactly, but drawing 4% of your initial nest-egg each year is supposed to give a 95% chance that your savings will last 40 years. Add in Social Security benefits kicking in at age 67 and that percentage goes up to 100% in most cases (unless you have an insanely large nest egg).

More like 7%, because that should be 4% after inflation...

Shouldn't the percentage of savings go down if you adjust for inflation (i.e., larger savings)?

Inflation is always bad for capital and good for debt.

Australian Government bonds will give you that. But you have to adopt the currency risk, so you'd have to forgo some return in order to hedge that away.

On the opposite side you wouldn't say that your job is risk free either.

Tax-wise it would be better to work less hours (20hr weeks for 2 years puts you in a lower bracket than 40hr weeks for one year).

Focus-wise maybe not.

> Has anyone ever had any success getting a good part-time job or downsizing your position at a company?

Once, at a contract gig, I was offered to work "flexible hours" which meant 16-32 hours a week. That was after putting in 12 months of 40-45 hours a week, essentially proving that I was good, reliable, etc. So it could happen, by switching to hourly pay, and/or becoming a contractor, working for people who already know you. And as theabraham notes, this may result in losing benefits.

As part of my negotiations for my current job, I negotiated a 4-day (32 hour) work week. I take Fridays off and do my own projects and volunteer work.

I've had a couple jobs where I've done 32 or 36 hour weeks in the past as well.

But I also have a strong reputation in my field so I'm able to leverage a bit of personal branding ("I'll get more done in 32 hours than anyone else you can hire for 40.")

That may be a tough sell for you at this point. But as others have pointed out, contracting may be a good fit for you if you want to work less. My advice if you go this route is to come up with the highest hourly rate you think you can ask for, then ask for at least 25% more (in the US I'd suggest asking for at least $75 per hour even if you don't have much experience).

I agree with your advice re: consulting 100%.

My case is not exactly as yours, but no one's really is so...

I made a project for an eCommerce company a few years ago and then left but always kept in touch with people there. I changed jobs and took a remote position working for a US based company here from Brazil so my working hours were 12-9PM due to the timezone difference so I had free mornings.

After a couple of months the first company (eCommerce) made me a proposal for a full time job that I didn't take because it was good working from home at the time. However I said that I could work part time 2-3 hours everyday for them. They took it and it was very good for both of us since I had an extra paycheck (I was earning as much as a full time employee) and they had me working on important stuff with no interruptions since I was there just a little bit everyday and could not be held accountable to day to day things.

I stayed like that for the past 3 years when I went working for them full time because I got tired of working remotely for a company that wasn't really in a remote-work-culture.

Developers are easy to find. Good developers are not. Bottom line is, if your value proposition to the company is good I cannot see why they wouldn't accept you working part time there. If it's good from the business perspective and you can demonstrate that to them it's pretty much a cost-benefit decision and not an emotionally one.

If you are really into it and wanna give it a try (obviously with some risks) you could say: "Shall we try for a month and see what happens?". After the first month there is not going back ;)

I was working 20 hours, 16 hours at home + 4 in office in the last two jobs.

Imho a coder is more productive if he focus 4 hours a day, then if he procrastinates 10 hours.

We lost an engineer recently because of a desire to change careers. I still see him once a week - as he still works one full day a week for us as a contractor. It has worked out very well in that the knowledge has not been lost and provided continuity in that area. I wish I could work him more time - but he likes things they way they are.

This is probably a fringe case - and I do not recommend you pursue it unless you are in excellent standing with your manager and are not currently overloaded with responsibility. This type of transition doesn't work if many people are solely dependent on you - which may give you something to work towards - others cross trained directly in your task - so you can have time away without impact to the company.

It depends on the company. I have done this, and quite successfully. I don't think I'll be going back to the 40-hour week any time soon.

I think you'll have better luck with tiny companies that can be more flexible, and also tend to be more starved for engineering skill. But YMMV.

Make it happen! You'll be buying back your time, which is the most valuable thing you have. I wish that I'd done this when I was young and single. Now I have a family, and am the only income earner, so I have to work 40 hours (for now). A friend of mine works part time, and spends the rest of the time in discovering and finding himself. I've been having to do this while raising my family, so that I don't screw them up. Full-time work can easily become an obsessive-compulsive escape from finding oneself. But work isn't what makes us happy in life (it is part of it, but not all of it).

I'm middle aged and just median income, because I did things like retire a while in my 20s to just live and learn. I have some regrets, but not many.

I did the sub-40 hour thing for a while at an old job. I was starting to go to grad school full time, so I asked my company if I could could move from being on salary to being an hourly employee and work about 20+ hours a week. Because it was better for them to keep me on in a limited capacity rather than spend the money hiring and training someone new they were really cooperative. The extra time flexibility was great, I got to keep my insurance with them, and got out of grad school debt free!

If you can find yourself a good non-standard situation that works well for you (and your future) take it!

I've done it, though not to such a big extent. I work four days a week instead of five, due to a combination of less technical work available and wanting to explore other opportunities. Having a day off mid-week is also incredibly useful if you want to get things done like visiting the bank, which is always packed at the weekend.

Even on five days a week though, I was working less than 40 hours. Most people I know work 37.5 hours (if you exclude lunch), and the Working Time Directive places restrictions on the number of hours you can be asked to work if you're in the EU.

The trick is not to seek 'part time' but rather seek a contract and let them know you can only do three days a week. It's working very well for me. Despite what everyone is saying its a marketplace and the demand for good devs/designers is big.

Few employers are open to ideas like this. At the end of the day, they might make a concession to keep you happy if you're valuable, but few businesses want to structure themselves to operate in this fashion.

However, you can accomplish something similar. If you only want half your salary, work full time for a year while saving half your salary, then fund a year long sabbatical for yourself. If at the end of that sabbatical you've done something interesting (created a new open source project, bootstrapped a business), then applying for a job at the end of that year will be easy. Rinse/repeat as desired.

Better to do six months/six months (stupid income tax).

I have ("Hey, how about you pay me 80% of my salary for 80% time?"), but I work at a university. And 80% is the lowest one can go in HR rules here and still get health insurance.

(If the US acted like EVERY other non-poor country and had nationalized health insurance, this would be a LOT easier).

And they actually probably end up getting quite a bit more out of me than actual 80% time, I end up working longer hours on the days I do work than I used to, but not so long that I'm working as much as I used to, and it's worth it to me to get a 3 day weekend every week.

I had success doing something similar at a previous company. I was able to switch to part-time at an equivalent hourly rate. My reason was that I was finish to go to graduate school simultaneously. I wasn't able to keep most benefits, but it wasn't a huge concern since I was young and still in grad school. The company got a good deal (without benefits, they got more work per dollar), and I got a good deal (in finding a part-time job at a higher rate than I would have anywhere else.)

I currently work 4 days a week on a barebones salary in Tokyo of all places .. If your priorities are aligned with the lifestyle I recommended it! Good luck.

I have same question, but about management position.

I did. I've been working 36 hours a week for design agency for the past few years. Having a good planning and team is key. The law here in the Netherlands was changed so a boss couldn't say 'no' when you asked to work (a bit) less. Now it's my afternoon to arrange all sorts of stuff and to go out and play with my kid.

I did this before when I went back to school to focus on CS classes. I already had a degree, but made it clear to my employer that these CS classes would benefit him later on. Irony is that the classes weren't applicable but the friendships made paid off dividends.

Easy fix: Become a freelancer :-)

You should consider bringing your talents to a mission based non-profit. In many non-profits, half time employees are more common, and the pay will absolutely be less. You might also just find the work that much more meaningful.

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