Again and again, the topic of job sharing is associated with women; with the re-entry of mothers after parental leave; with the compatibility of work and family life. At the same time, the working model can do much more – and is particularly appealing to men.
In short, job sharing is essentially about two things: It’s about a) doing your desired job and b) making it flexible. It’s the combination of a fulfilling job (including the option for a career!) AND more time, made possible by clever teamwork with a sparring partner.
This desire for a fulfilling job within a balanced life is ancient and primevally human – yet still not satisfactorily resolved.
And it affects men as well as women.
However, since the benefits for women seem to be more obvious than those for men, here is some food for thought regarding situations and life stages in which men AND women should share their jobs …:
1. Time for further education and jobs!
For many people, after some time in their professional life, they want to continue developing their skills on the side. This is not always possible (in their desired area) at their own company – and usually this would be “utopian” anyway. In such phases of life, job sharing can be an attractive model to combine your own job with a further qualification without facing the dilemma of either staying full time in the “old” job and learning “on the side” (read: on weekends and evenings) or focusing on training and staying afloat with lower-skill part-time jobs.
“I play with the idea of gaining further qualifications on the side. But with three little kids at home I think that would be almost impossible with a high-responsibility full-time job.” (Markus Simoneit, Marketing Professional)
2. Variety instead of 40 hours full time!
The 40-hour full-time week as a traditional employee is an obsolete model for many, especially younger people. The desire for different projects and jobs, diversity in working life (which in turn creates motivation and inspiration) is getting louder. Job sharing is a sensible model, especially in life phases where you are looking for a change. It enables the combination of a main job (in the job share) with other projects of all kinds (freelance activities, social initiatives, etc.) and thus combines the advantages of employment, including sparring partners, with the appeal of self-employment.
“Job sharing excites me as a concept for a life with the time and space to do more than one project. The part-time connection to a team is especially valuable for entrepreneurial lone warriors.” (Christine Bär, Consultant at Ashoka Deutschland gGmbH)
3. Teach your own successor – knowledge management!
Towards the end of professional life or even towards the end of a project or career stage, there is often a desire to pass on your know-how to a successor. Here, job sharing offers opportunities to slowly transition out of a job (keywords: “partial retirement”) or project, and to pass on your knowledge to someone who may also have one foot in another project or study.
4. More time for family!
Why do we still talk mainly about mothers when it comes to reconciling work and family life? When children arrive, why don’t both parents share their jobs – thus staying in them – and have the same amount of time for their family?
“This is a great approach for young families, especially after parental leave.” (Daud Zulfacar, Product Manager at Raynet GmbH)
Of course, spending more time with family can also be required in other situations, such as when family members get sick. Even in these cases, job sharing can be a solution that allows you to do your own job in just a few hours with a strong partner on the side.
Through close teamwork, job sharing makes possible scenarios that are exciting for men as well. In many phases of life, a flexible working model offers solutions that men in traditional part-time positions do not often see because ‘part time’ often means compromise and a career slump. This is different in job sharing: job sharing sounds more like a self-determined life, a career that fits into life. In fact, in practice, there are more and more job-sharing tandems in leadership positions, and more job-sharing tandems receiving promotions together (including male–male and male–female).
Another attractive point: job-sharing models are often confined to a limited, pre-defined period. This underlines its quality as a life-phase model and increases the appeal for many freedom-loving people.