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The half time work experiment

Posted: 2008-06-14 21:04:16, Categories: General, Work, 684 words (permalink)

A corner of the CSC building with the company logo in morning light. Eight months ago, I made a contract for working 80 hours per month at CSC. Back then, I signed up until April 2008, and it was extended by one month because the project I worked on had an important testing phase in May. Now I'm off again to enjoy the summer and it's time to review how everything worked out. In short, it has been a good experiment.

My working hours varied between 49 and 105 per month, the average being 82. There was occasionally an urgent task to finish or a problem to fix, but never too much pressure or stress. I was able to put a little bit of effort into a couple of side projects while focusing more than 80% of the hours on my main task, setting up the Finnish part of data storage for the CERN LHC particle accelerator. It has been exciting to have a tiny role in one of the largest projects ever undertaken by humans. The real test will come when the accelerator will start in August, but the data storage installation project reached its goals with positive feedback, so I'd call it a success. A big thanks for that goes of course to my colleagues who did their parts of the job competently and were great to work with.

I generally went to the workplace on Mondays and Thursdays and more randomly on other days, in particular skipping most Fridays. Whenever I had activities in the clubs I belong to or just didn't feel like working, I could cut those days short or stay out of the office. Compared to my previous full time employment, I'd say the hours I spent at work were more efficient. While working half time I probably got about 60% of the work done compared to being a full timer. On the other hand, further cutting down the number of hours per month would have probably lowered efficiency again, because there is always some overhead due to meetings, company events, emails and administrative work.

On the hobbies side, I had time for more or less what I planned to do in Finnish Linux User Group: no major new projects but at least helping to get the group back in life after a couple of problematic years. I also continued going to Chinese lessons, although I didn't progress too much. If I really want to learn to communicate in Chinese I'll have to go to China or at least put much more effort in studying it than I've done now.

In Japania ry, a Finnish-Japanese friendship society, I didn't get done nearly as much as I wanted, so most of the things which would need my computer skills are still hanging in the same state they were 8 months ago. A few more personal projects I had in mind also didn't progress at all which annoys me a bit. However, most importantly, I had time to go out with friends, enjoy concerts and parties, read a few books, relax and get enough sleep. April and May were a bit on the busy side, but overall it has certainly been more balanced than a few years ago when I tried to do all the same while being employed full time.

Compared to life before my one year on the road, surprisingly little changed. Same employer, mostly same hobbies, only taking a bit more time through a non-standard work contract. However, that was an important difference. It was like being inside the rat race but looking around and observing instead of rushing full speed to win the race. I could compare the situation before, during and after my year out. There were some interesting discussions with colleagues and friends which would have never taken place had I stayed away for good.

As I wrote in the beginning, I'm again without a job following my own decision not to extend the fixed term contract. This time the leave is less about desire to travel and see the world, although I plan to do a bit of that too. It's more like a step out of the routine leaving room for new ideas.

5 comments

Comment from: Päivi & Santeri [Visitor]  
Sounds great, looks like you are now free of any plans. Hope to see you soon!
2008-06-16 @ 00:23
Comment from: ANdrei [Visitor]  
good to hear that everything is ok with you! enjoy your summer, there’s enough time to work in this life :) hope to see you south ;)
2008-06-16 @ 09:08
Comment from: Reko [Visitor]  
EI muuta kuin mukavaa kesää! Piirit ovat pienet, eli ympäri mennään ja yhteen tullaan varmaan jatkossakin. -
2008-06-16 @ 09:36
Comment from: Teemu K [Visitor]  
Mitä nyt olen blogiasi seurannut ja kanssasi jutellut niin täytyy kyllä ihailla rohkeata ja innostunutta elämänasennettasi. Hyvää reissua ja tavataan taas!
2008-06-16 @ 19:48
Comment from: Martin-Éric [Visitor]  
Speaking of which, how about meeting up soon, before you hit the road again? :)
2008-06-18 @ 18:35

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