Job sharing is typically achieved in three ways
A pure job share is where one job is done by two (or more) individuals. Business objectives, job descriptions and responsibilities are shared, although one person may take the lead on a specific account or management relationship.
A split job share is where two individuals share common business objectives but the roles and responsibilities are different.
Most people will job share using a hybrid model, where some responsibilities are split and others shared. This plays to the strengths of each individual.
If you want to job share, employers usually employ each person on a part-time basis with the same job description. There is often a proviso that should one of you leave, the other will be offered the position in a full-time capacity until, with the agreement of the remaining job-share partner, a new job-share partner can be recruited.
Tips to make it work
Choose the right person
Alongside being highly motivated to make the job share work and a strong commitment to the role is choosing the right person. You need to trust, respect and communicate with one another.
Many sucessful job sharers have reported that this is a bit like dating
- you have to feel there is some chemistry between you
- the practical side has to work (e.g. which days you want to work etc) and
- the personal side has to feel right (e.g. your values and work ethic, what motivates you both, and understanding how your styles could mesh).
Together decide how you’re going to make it work
- Be clear about each of your responsibilities, duties, work practises (e.g. workstyle and organisation), coverage (at peak times and relief arrangements), communication, handover and preferred fall back position if one partner leaves.
- When dividing up responsibilities, be fair in splitting up the interesting work, as well as the ‘boring but necessary’ tasks. Try to match the responsibilities with your individual talents and skills.
- Decide how you will communicate – between yourselves, managers, co-workers and customers. We recommend establishing some rules and protocols from the start (e.g. How will emails and phone calls be answered? How will you hand over to each other? Who needs to be copied into what? Are you willing to be called to clarify your position outside your designated work hours?)
Have open, honest communication and be willing to compromise and share the spotlight with your partner
- Trust one another.
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
This is an arrangement where communication between job-share partners (and with other stakeholders) is critical. Regularly updating and engaging with one another on relevant topics is critical. Often this activity is done pro-bono.
- Handle disagreements in private.
Strategic / Philosophical
- Move from “I” to “We”.
- Invest time in developing the professional relationship with your partner
- Be bold and be visible in the workplace.
- Make decisions with one mind.
- Be equal, encourage others to treat you equally.
- Ensure that you have seamless communication with others (and fail-safe communication with each other… you depend on one another to make the role a success!). Deciding on the handover process and how information will be shared between you is critical.
- e.g. Hold team meetings on days that you are both in the office (preferably when you are both in the office together)
- Consciously build and nurture co-worker relationships.
- Manage as one
- Whenever possible cover for each other so that you offer 100% coverage (no gap): skew vacations, trade days when needed and step in to cover if your partner is sick.
- Decide how you will treat days off - how contactible are you willing to be?
- Be leaders - by talking things through with one another you are likely to find that you'll have greater confidence in your decisions and the courage to see things through. This needs to be tempered by an awareness that a quorum of two is not a full picture, so be aware of being open to hearing a wider range of views beyond your shared perspective.
- Importantly, deliver the goods!
Tips for applying for roles
Gather as much information as you can about the employer and its attitude to job sharing. Get copies of all relevant policies (e.g. flexible working, part-time working, working from home, parental leave and any other company literature relating to job sharing) that might support your proposition.
Ask around the workplace to find other examples of job sharing arrangements on either a formal or informal basis. Find out how these arrangements were reached and how they work in practice. Also ask other job sharers for any advice they can provide.
Review the job description and any other relevant information on the role. Think carefully about the job and how you will share the role and responsibilities.
Apply for roles as one unit. Include one cover letter (written and signed by both parties), both CVs and a proposed work arrangement.
For those already in a role and wanting to job share - work out who is best to approach with your proposal – is your manager, or your manager’s superior more likely to be receptive to job sharing?
When writing your job share proposal make sure you cover
- How you plan to share and divide responsibilities
- Hours of work for each partner (including possible overlap)
- How you will to communicate with one another, your supervisor/manager, co-workers, and clients
- How you anticipate being evaluated
- If one of you leaves, what you would like to happen to the role
- If the job-share arrangement doesn’t work, what do you think should happen
- Implications for pay and benefits
For more advice - take a look at
Job Sharing Toolkit (Equal Employment Opportunities Trust)
How to Manage Job Sharers (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)
The Job Share Project (a British resource)
Job Sharing - A practical guide (Pam Walton, 1990)
Job Sharing - Two heads are better than one (Mary O'Hanlon & Angela Morella, 2003).