A job share is where a full-time post is shared by two people working part time. People work part time or flexibly for many reasons, such as caring responsibilities or to allow for study. For some roles, a single person working part time can be accommodated, but where this isn’t possible job shares are becoming more common.
What is a job share and how does it work?
Job shares come in very different shapes and sizes. They may work the equivalent of one full-time employee between them, or the total time may be more or less than one post. Some divide the role and have individual responsibilities, some share the role completely, and others find somewhere in the middle where they share most responsibilities but may have individual areas where their particular expertise or preferences are aligned.
Often the joint post holders will divide the week between ‘shared’ days where both employees are working and days where one person works. This allows for hand over and shared thinking time as well as time working solo. The actual arrangements in individual circumstances will vary according to demand and preferences, and the key to any job share is communication
Our jobshare worked through good communication and honesty, and also by having an organised shared email account. We used coloured categories so we could both see quickly what needed actioning, reading or had been completed”
What are the benefits of job shares?
For an individual who works part time, job sharing can open up opportunities to work in fulfilling roles which may not be suitable for part time working. For the employer they are able to recruit and retain high calibre staff, and offer flexible working without compromising their operational needs.
An employer may also benefit from a wider range of experience, knowledge and expertise than you may expect in one person. For example, a job share may be made up of one person with deep technical expertise, and another with strong programme and project management skills. . By bringing two complementary people together for one role the employer gets a greater range of skills applied to the work.
Making it happen
If your employer already is open to job shares then you should follow the arrangements set out by your employer. For example, in the civil service it is recommended that you find a job sharing partner before you apply for a role as a job share.
If job sharing is new in your organisation then you may need to be ready to explain the options and present a clear plan of how job sharing could work and why you feel it would benefit both the employer and you. Explore resources online, speak to existing job sharers and be prepared to have an open discussion about flexible working.
Civil Service Guide to Jobsharing (Civil Service)
How to Make a Job Sharing Situation Work (hbr.org)
Think about how you will manage and share mailboxes, how you will do handovers and where you will store meeting notes. Consider having identical email footers which outline your working pattern and contact details.
Seeing yourself as a pair allows you to share the highs and the lows, to talk through problems and have a sounding board. You may need to put your ego aside - and sometimes get called the wrong name - but you will be stronger and more effective when working together.
If you manage a team, being open, transparent and consistent in how you will manage people is important.
It is important to be able to explain to people how your job share works; who will be attending certain meetings or taking responsibility for certain aspects of the role; and how you want people to communicate with you.
Talk to managers about appraisal and development. Decide whether you will have joint work objectives and individual development objectives. Be honest with yourself and your job share partner about how this makes you feel.