There are a few prejudices that are seemingly inseparable from the term “job sharing.” For one, many people still think that job sharing is simply part time with a new, nicer name. Additionally, this model is consistently assumed to be much more expensive and, above all, more time-consuming than “normal” jobs. It’s high time to show that these prejudices are just that, and demonstrate the added value that job sharers bring to business.
Job sharing = part time?
In particular, the flexibility of work-time scheduling differentiates the job-sharing model from rigid 50/50 part-time work. Tandem partners can divide the working hours themselves and adapt them to their personal needs (always in coordination with the partner and the manager, of course). This results in many different constellations that often go beyond the typical 100% position. Many job-sharing tandems share more than a 40-hour job.
Another serious difference: job sharing does not usually imply the career gap that part-time jobs unfortunately still often bring with them. Especially for parents, job sharing creates a real opportunity to reconcile family and career. And not only parents, but all job sharers have more time available – for independence, care of relatives, leisure or further education. No matter what reasons lead to job sharing, a fulfilling life can be arranged with an exciting job thanks to this model.
These points should make clear that job sharing is not just a new term for part-time work. It’s so much more than that: job sharing means a completely different, new understanding of work.
More time for the company? Self-organization in job sharing
Two colleagues who share a job need to be well organized and reach an agreement, that’s true; however, the distribution of tasks, arrangements, work schedules, and days off are what tandems are all about. This relieves the superiors and at the same time contributes to better cooperation in the tandem. Without intervention in these processes from the outside, tandem partners have the opportunity to divide up the tasks according to their own preferences, strengths, and weaknesses.
Communication with each other, as well as with management and colleagues, must be open and transparent. That’s why good chemistry, mutual trust, and respect play a big role in job sharing. Incidentally, this open communication is also an advantage for companies, as it leads to a better prioritization of tasks, to more reflection, and to overall better decisions.
Does this self-organization work? Oh yes, very well actually. Several studies have shown that the majority of job sharers are very self-sufficient people who can think and act independently and are willing to engage more than the average person. Job sharers, of course, are very interested in their working model, so it makes perfect sense to let them manage the collaboration themselves.
In the early stages, a somewhat higher organizational effort is required, which amounts to no more than about 1–2 hours per week for a well-rehearsed tandem. However, this effort does not affect (as is often assumed) management and/or HR, only the tandem itself.
Job sharers share more than one job!
Job sharing enables self-determined work, with more personal responsibility and a high degree of self-organization. However, the type of collaboration is also crucial: close communication and cooperation, common goals, and responsibility. The tandem partners decide together and independently how a goal is achieved and how it is worked on. All participants are given a high degree of freedom, but good time management, high commitment, and autonomous actions are necessary. This automatically leads to open communication and clear focus – and more engagement overall. Self-management is the key to a good collaboration and an important step towards cultural change and a new organization of work.
When it comes to job sharing, two people make their knowledge, experience and know-how available. Thus, within the tandem, the drive, ideas, and solutions are created all by themselves. The capacity for innovation, creativity and commitment are doubled. Job sharers are exactly the changemakers who innovatively initiate change – and who companies urgently need today.