Smilebox Cultivating A Part Time Culture

9 years ago

In 2007 the Pew Research Center did a study on working mom's job preferences. What they study found is that 60% of today's working mothers say part-time work would be their ideal. This is in direct contrast to working dads. In the study, only 38% of fathers prefer part time work.

Part-time work is also the preferred option of about half (49%) of mothers who work full-time and a third (33%) of mothers who don't work outside the home.

The reasons more women don't work part-time are complex. Some women need the fulltime work for health care benefits and for the salary.

Other women resist going part time because they can't find asenior levelpart time job.

That's why I was particularly fascinated when I learned that the entire marketing team--with the exception of the marketing director -- plus the head of finance and partner development at Smilebox all hold part-time jobs.

 Chances are if you walk into their headquarters on a Wednesdsay you're not going to find many marketing folks in the office. Same goes for late afternoons, many of the marketing team like to leave the office by 3:00 so they can pick up their kids from school.

I met the folks at Smilebox during BlogHer 08.  Smilebox is a photo and video sharing service that allows you to combine photos, videos and audios in one interactive design.
They had a booth  at Blogher 08 and were giving away premium memberships to everyone who attended the conference. Here's our conversation. You'll here all the Bloghers in the background!

During our conversation I learned they were located in the Seattle area and as it happened I had a business trip to Seattle a few weeks after the conference and scheduled a visit to their headquarters to continue the conversation of their part time culture.

 Of the 35 or so employees at Smilebox, 1/3 work part time. That includes, Noemi Flor, who heads up Finance, " I would have never imagined that a part time job would exist at my level. People notice it and think it's pretty cool."

Noemi's attitude about her job  is echoed by other part timers. When asked how difficult it is to find a senior level part time job they marketing team says this kind of opportunity just doesn't exist.  They say friends are jealous and  amazed that they found the opportunity they have.

In exchange for this flexibility the team says they often work more than their assigned hours --just as they would in a fulltime job --the difference--they don't mind putting in the time because they love their jobs and its flexibility.

Several of the members of the marketing team are former Microsoft employees and said that it's very difficult to get a great part time job there because the company doesn't do  a "half head counts."

Saying they are an untapped resource, they are walking advocates for a new part time working model. It is a model that more and more companies may have to start studying not because of working moms but becaues of baby boomers.

Although workers age 50+ want to work, many don't want full-time employment. Some corporate trendsetters are experimenting with phased retirement -- continuing to work for the same employer but with reduced hours, cites Mrs. Strewler-Carter.

According to Mrs. Strewler-Carter there are several companies that have already developed cutting edge programs. For example, Procter & Gamble developed their own job site,, as a way to attract their retired employees. General Electric allows retired employees to work up to 1,000 hours per year.

IBM has designed several programs to leverage the knowledge and expertise of retiring baby boomers. The company maintains a pool of retirees who mentor and transfer knowledge to younger workers.

San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare has its older employees determine their preferred work schedule.

Home Depot allows employees to set their work hours. In addition, it has trained managers in how to deal effectively with older workers.


Do you work part time?  Does your company support and encourage part time work and would you work part time if the right opportunity came up?


Elana blogs about business culture at FunnyBusiness


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