Job sharing, where one full-time role is shared by two part-time professionals, is becoming more and more popular as companies beef up their flexible working policies. But how do you turn it from a good idea on paper to a seamless arrangement in practice? We have some tips.
Job sharing enables the best of both worlds, opening up the possibility of having a fulfilling career, while leaving time in the week to spend with children, take care of a dependent or pursue a side hustle. It’s also helping to make senior roles more accessible for those who don’t want to work a five-day week.
Here’s five tips to help make the arrangement a success:
Choose the right partner
Job sharing is like a marriage, so you need to make sure your partner is a good fit for you – this means finding a partner with complementary skills, experience and perspectives.
Back in 2016, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley famously paved the way for job sharing in politics, becoming Co-Leaders of the Green Party of England and Wales.
Bartley, who now shares the job with Siân Berry, says one of the key factors in making a job share successful is being on the same page and sharing the same values as your partner.
Agree on who does what
The next step is to divvy up the work. Sit down and map out all the different components of the role and assign responsibilities based on one another’s strengths.
You’ll also need to agree on days. The most common job sharing split is for each person to work three days part-time, with a crossover day in the middle. This handover day is then spent communicating face-to-face, passing off work and discussing any issues that have arisen.
Communication – and a lot of it – is immensely important. Both job sharers need to openly share and seek information with one another. When you’re not in the office, the other person should be able to easily find the answer to questions and understand the work you completed.
Anushka Asthana and Heather Stewart, both mothers of young children, began job sharing the senior role of Political Editor at The Guardian in 2016 and attributes constant communication to the arrangement’s success.
‘‘We work very differently to traditional journalists – we share all our contacts and conversations and many of our stories have joint bylines. We’re a united front and we’re never competitive with each other. There are no sharp elbows in this relationship,” says Stewart.
It’s a similar story for finance professionals Allison and Karen, who always sets the other up for success.
“On Monday morning, if I need to walk into a 9am meeting after not being at work since Wednesday, I know Karen has documented everything I need to be mindful of,” says Allison.
The experience for your colleagues should also be seamless. It’s important those around you know how to reach each of you and who will respond to what and when.
“We need to be one person, deliver the same message and ensure our work is carried out in a seamless fashion. Your team and clients should be able to feel they have had one conversation and it filters through to the other partner.” says Karen.
Give it time
You can’t expect to be in sync and operating as one person from day one – be patient and give the arrangement time. Set regular check-ins to discuss what’s working and what’s not – and be honest.
It’s important you’re both openly discussing issues with the arrangement as they arise, and also asking your manager for regular feedback, so you can iron out any kinks before they become major obstacles and set yourselves up for long-term success.