How To Reduce Work Hours: A Guide With Practical Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are many reasons why you might want to reduce your working hours. Making this decision can be a challenging process, and it is essential to consider several vital factors. If you are considering changing your work hours, knowing how to navigate this decision can help you make an informed choice. In this article, we discuss why employees request to reduce work hours, describe how to make this request, explain some things to consider before making this decision and share a sample letter to request a reduction in working hours.

Related: How To Work From Home Online

Reasons why an employee might want to reduce work hours

Here are some prominent reasons why a working professional may want to reduce work hours:

Loss of productivity

Long work hours may not always result in high levels of productivity. You may experience exhaustion or fatigue by consistently working long hours. This can also influence your sleep cycle and impair your focus. If your current role or project has strict deadlines or requires you to stay in the office for an extended time, you may benefit from reducing your working hours.

Related: How To Practise Self-Discipline In The Workplace

High levels of stress

When you work for long hours, you may spend less time with your family, loved ones and friends. Sometimes, professionals working long hours may neglect to prioritise their physical health and fitness. This can result in high levels of stress and impact your overall wellness, making it important to pay close attention to the amount of hours you work each week and adjust when needed.

Workplace hazards

Some workplaces, like production facilities or processing plants, may expose employees to hazards like high levels of noise or extreme temperatures. Others may pose other kinds of potential hazards, such as exposure to chemicals or radiation. To prevent an adverse impact of such risks to your health, you may request a reduction in the time spent inside the workplace.

Changes in personal life

A new parent may want to reduce their working hours to spend more time with their child. In such situations and other important life events, people may want to stay at home or focus on family. Depending on the case, this change can be temporary or permanent.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition And Examples

Physical or mental health issues

Accidents that reduce physical mobility or strength may cause a working professional to reduce their working hours. Similarly, due to events in personal life or any other factor, people may experience mental health challenges that require attention. This may cause them to reduce their working hours.

Related: What Is A Sabbatical Leave From Work?

How to request for a reduction in working hours

Follow these steps to request a reduction in your working hours:

1. Prepare well

Be confident in your approach and have clarity as to why you want to reduce your working hours. Objectively assess the value you bring to the team and focus on the same during your discussion and meetings. Talk to a few colleagues before you initiate the conversation with your manager and find out if they would be comfortable taking over some of your responsibilities.

2. Suggest a few distinct alternatives

Consider a few alternate arrangements for your schedule that might work for you. Perhaps your manager can reassign some of your duties, or you can continue doing them remotely. Alternatively, you could work from home for a few days a week and spend the rest of your time at the office. Prepare these alternatives and have a clear explanation for why you prefer them. Make sure you clearly communicate that lesser time in the office would not impact the quality of your work.

3. Propose to conduct the arrangement trial

Many supervisors and managers may be hesitant to grant a request to alter a working agreement dramatically. It may be even more challenging if the organisation is new to remote work arrangements. You could propose implementing a new work schedule for some time, say two months, and then assess its feasibility.

4. Prepare for a pay reduction

If you can no longer work in a full-time role, prepare for a pay reduction and relinquish some benefits that come with working as a full-time employee. List some responsibilities that others can take up and discuss the same with your team. If you are working on a crucial project, you may have to wait before the company implements a new work schedule.

Things to consider while making the decision to reduce working hours

It can be helpful to consider the following things when deciding to reduce work hours:

Assess your financial situation

Reducing your work hours can impact your salary significantly. Depending on the scope of your reduced role and responsibilities, you may also get paid hourly or daily. So, ensure that you analyse the impact of your income on your life before finalising any decision. Calculate your household budget and other expenses while proposing a new working arrangement.

Be flexible

While it is important to be firm with your proposal, also show flexibility. For example, if your manager says that you can leave earlier instead of working for fewer days every week, consider if it helps solve your issue. Similarly, if your team is willing to accommodate most of your requests and work as per your schedule, show flexibility in accepting the days they require you to come to the office.

Demonstrate your dedication

It can be easier to negotiate lesser working hours if you have proven to be a trustworthy, loyal and dedicated professional. Spending lesser time in the office can result in communication challenges, and it is essential to prepare for them in advance. So, suggest new ways to interact and collaborate with your team and discuss how you intend to appraise your manager of updates and developments when working remotely.

Related: How To Stay Focused When You Work From Home

Set boundaries to avoid being overwhelmed

To ensure that you truly benefit from the reduction in working hours, set boundaries. Make sure you effectively utilise the extra time you get. You can plan your personal and professional routine in a manner that allows you to be available to the team when required and disengage from work as necessary.

Consider alternative employment opportunities

If your manager or organisation is unwilling to offer any flexibility, you can consider looking for other employment opportunities that meet your expectations. Many employers offer flexible and remote working options to their full-time employees and prioritise employee well-being. You can transition to a new job with lesser working hours and responsibilities if your situation allows.

Work hour reduction request sample letter

Here is an example that you can refer to while writing an application to your manager requesting a reduction in your working hours. In this example, the employee is requesting a reduction in the work hours due to a physical injury:

Ms. Malini Chaturvedi,
Project manager
Wavewood Limited, New Delhi

Subject: Request for changing the weekly work schedule

Dear Ms. Chaturvedi,

I am highly appreciative of all the support you have offered me in the past few months owing to my injury. I am very grateful to have you as a manager and work at Wavewood and hope to continue my employment and professional development here.

I am writing to request a reduction in my weekly working hours as it has become increasingly difficult for me to fulfil my responsibilities due to my recurring health issues. Due to the severity of the accident, I continue to struggle with intense back pain, which makes travelling and sitting for long hours very challenging.

Currently, I am working full-time 48 hours per week in the office, Monday to Saturday. I would like to reduce them to 30-32 hours per week in the office and work remotely on the remaining days. Due to the nature of my duties, I can manage most of my responsibilities remotely without physical exertion. If working remotely for a few days is not possible, I have attached a document explaining which of my duties can be delegated to other members of the team.

I expect this to be a temporary arrangement for the next few months and hope to be back working full-time in the office once I have recovered completely. However, due to the unpredictable nature of the recovery, I cannot provide a fixed date for the same.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please let me know if you require any additional information from me. I look forward to meeting you and discussing this with you in person.

Vikas Sharma

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