Life at Cleo

How to make a part-time Engineering job work for you

I was Cleo’s first part-time Frontend Engineer at Cleo. I’m also a mom of twin babies (hence the part-time part). In this blog, you’ll find some tips and thoughts that I’ve gathered while working 30/hr per week, remotely. 

Image of Sara, a frontend engineer at Cleo

I was Cleo’s first part-time Frontend Engineer at Cleo. I’m also a mom of twin babies (hence the part-time part). In this blog, you’ll find some tips and thoughts that I’ve gathered while working 30/hr per week, remotely. 

Visibility is key 👀 

You don’t want to remind your team every couple of weeks that you’re off at 4pm.

There are easy ways to make your working hours transparent to everyone in the company.

  • Set your working hours in your  calendar. Colleagues will automatically see a prompt when they try to schedule a meeting with you that’s outside your working hours.
  • Use a Slack extension, e.g. Pulse. It automatically updates your Slack status with your availability and lets your colleagues know if you’re gonna be online or offline soon.

Ask your team to respect your working hours ⌛

People are more understanding than you might think. 

If you’re a new joiner and your team has regular meetings outside of your working hours, don’t hesitate to ask them to move them. My colleagues at Cleo are kind, respectful and do their best to make things work. If the meeting does have to go ahead without you, ask your team mates to:

  • Record the meetings. On Zoom, only the host can record. Later, watch through the recorded meeting with 2x speed 三三ᕕ( ⌓̈ )ᕗ
  • Schedule Slack messages. If you don’t want to turn off Slack notifications (just in case…), did you know that you can schedule Slack messages? Ask your teammates to schedule non-urgent messages to be sent within your working hours. This way, they can tick stuff off their to-do list without disturbing you.

Ask yourself to respect your working hours 💙

Don’t work full-time for a part-time salary.

This can be a challenge for all of us. But when you’re working part-time, you need to watch this even more. As a busy Mum, I’m not really at risk of working too much, I’m just too busy. Although this sometimes stresses me, when e.g. I see Slack messages on my phone and I’m not able to check or reply. This is what helps me:

  • Lock away your laptop. I read this article once about a Chief Something Officer of some big firm. Every evening, she symbolically locks away her laptop in a drawer, as a kind of ritual. It helps to disconnect and leave work behind until the next day. I tried it, it works.
  • Turn off Slack notifications. Better yet: don’t install Slack on your personal phone.

More tips 💡

  • Start your day before your standup. I usually finish my day a few hours before my colleagues. I used to start my day with our daily standup but found that because I was finishing the day earlier than my colleagues, I didn;t know what the team was talking about. Give yourself some time to catch up on the previous afternoon before your standup.
  • Choose your meetings wisely and don’t be afraid to skip. People will understand. Again, ask for recordings and speed-watch them later. By choosing wisely, I mean: try to find the meetings, where your presence really matters. I found e.g. our “fun times” important to stay in touch with the team (no point in watching recordings here), while e.g. don’t see a problem skipping and later watching the bi-weekly product demo.
  • Can’t attend a meeting but have something to say? Record a video. We had a product demo the other day and I wasn’t able to present in person, though the feature was “my baby” and I would have liked to be the one showing it off. The solution? I recorded a video which another team member played. It worked out perfectly.

We’re hiring! Check out opportunities at Cleo. 

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