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What is job sharing? The most important facts.

What is job sharing? The most important facts.

Job sharing is a flexible work-time model in which two or more employees share at least one full-time position. They work very closely together as a team and together determine their working hours and tasks for themselves. But how exactly is this different from part time? What variations are available and for which industries is the model suitable? We have summarized the key job sharing facts, how you can apply as a tandem, and which first steps are important.

The most important job sharing facts at a glance


What is the difference between job sharing and part time?

There are considerable differences between job sharing and conventional part-time work. The only commonality is the reduced number of working hours. Due to the time sovereignty and close collaboration as a team, job sharing allows for a completely different way of working. Thus, the job sharing work model is also suitable for completely different jobs or, more precisely, for many more jobs. Even very demanding tasks that are difficult to implement as part time can become part time through job sharing. “Part time” is also often used very negatively: “It’s not very sexy, especially not for men. It’s a career trap for everyone, really.” The job sharing work model, on the other hand, has the potential to tidy up the awkward reputation of flexible work. Here we present 5 prejudices against part time and 5 solutions through job sharing.

What forms of job sharing are there?

Regular part-time work, especially in direct comparison to job sharing, can also be seen as the result of a job split: a full-time job split 50/50 with clearly defined individual task areas delegated to two people working independently (i.e., a job split into two part-time jobs).
However, in the purest form of job sharing, you would delegate the 100% position to two people, who then occupy and manage it together and really share the role (i.e., a pure job share). Another, more commonly occurring job sharing variant is to fill a 100% position with two people who have different strengths. These two then split the tasks depending on their different characters and strengths (i.e., a hybrid job share). More information about the different forms of job sharing can be found here.

For which sectors and professions is job sharing suitable?

Job sharing is generally feasible in many industries and professions. However, there are a few pioneering sectors and areas where job sharing is already being increasingly implemented and practiced. For example, job sharing is already very common among nursing professions and doctors. Here, the jobs are often even explicitly advertised as “job sharing” vacancies, and group practices are also commonplace. But even in areas where you would not expect job sharing, the model is on the rise: top sharing – that is, the sharing of leadership positions, such as department, area, and team leadership – is becoming increasingly popular.

For which employees is job sharing exciting?

For whom is job sharing a sensible solution? In all cases where people want more time. More time for family, for example, for other projects, for further education on the side. More time for your own health or the health of loved ones, or just more time for yourself. Also, working in job sharing tandems (or teams) is an attractive option for those seeking a new approach to the labor market through the concept of close collaboration: for example, non-native speakers can use their skills in intercultural tandems, or older people can pass on their know-how in cross-generational tandems to newcomers. In our article about the three types of job sharers, you will find the results of a study on the typical motifs for job sharing.
So, you’re convinced of the job sharing model – but your boss isn’t? Here, we’ve gathered 16 arguments that will convince every employer about job sharing.

What can job sharing work relationships look like?

Since job sharing takes on many forms, almost all time divisions are possible. Classically, there’s the 50/50 split of a 100% position. In practice, however, other constellations can be observed: 30/70, 40/60, 20/80 – many things are conceivable. Also, it does not always have to amount to 100% in total. Other common divisions, especially in management positions, include 60/60 or 70/70. In this case, more than one full position is filled in total, and thus finding overlap (for example, on a shared day of the week) is made easier. This variant is particularly well suited for tasks that were previously completely understaffed with just one person and actually included more work than a 100% position.
Regarding the exact working hours, job sharing tandems are in theory completely sovereign and flexible. In practice, of course, it makes sense in many cases to agree on fixed times and divisions (for example, in the morning/afternoon, Monday–Tuesday/Wednesday–Friday) so that team members, colleagues, and supervisors can also work out who is there and when. Especially in shared management positions, it is also helpful to have a joint day at the office for handovers. Of course, it would also be conceivable to agree on completely flexible working hours – in contrast to the presence culture that is still very much rooted in Germany. But in practice, implementing this will more likely require a step-by-step process; or, as the saying goes, “haste makes waste.”

Vorteile von Jobsharing

Anyone who thinks about the job sharing model quickly wonders what the labor law situation is like. Is the implementation of job sharing complicated in practice? How are contracts, work schedules, vacation entitlement, etc., governed? In our survey on job sharing and employment law, we’ve provided all the answers. In addition, at the beginning of 2019, the so-called “bridge part time” moved things in an even more flexible direction.

How do you apply as a tandem?

So, you’ve found your tandem partner and a great job listing right away. But … do you actually write two applications as a tandem? What do you do for the CV? And what if the job is not advertised as a job share? Here you can learn how to apply as a tandem.

What are the first steps in job sharing?

If you decide to go for job sharing, many questions arise at the beginning. This is true not only for the job sharers themselves, but also for HR. Therefore, we’ve made this “job sharing StarterKit” available with tips and checklists to enable a smooth start for all participants.

How do you organize the day-to-day of job sharing?

Once the job share has been successfully initiated, the tandem has to decide in concrete terms how to organize tasks, time distribution and communication together. Among other things, the job sharers have to think about what their week should look like. That depends on many factors. How many hours do both tandem partners work? What are their personal situations? Some job sharers work 2–3 full days; others are there whole week, but only for half-days. Additionally, meetings, agreements on substitution in cases of illness & vacation, task areas, responsibilities and much more must be discussed and determined. Here is an overview of how you can organize your daily routine in a job share.

How can job sharing be initiated in organizations?

Within companies, there are various scenarios in which job sharing could be implemented. For example, it could be a concrete offer for those returning from parental leave or for partial retirees. Or an instrument to promote women in a targeted way and to facilitate part-time leadership. Job sharing or co-leadership can also be used in companies as a strategic measure to avoid knowledge silos at the management level and to initiate a new leadership culture.

But how exactly can job sharing be easily implemented and initiated within organizations? The matching algorithm of our Tandemploy SaaS job sharing modules brings together exactly those people who fit well both personally and professionally. Employees can easily express their interest in job sharing (anonymously, if desired) and directly find matching tandem partners among their colleagues!

What does job sharing look like in practice?

You can read about how job sharing can be quite concrete in practice in various interviews:

SabElly – these are Elly Oldenbourg and Sabine Georg, a Creative Agency Manager tandem at Google Germany. © Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

With the “Beiersdorf Exclusive Interview Series,” we conducted a total of eleven interviews with fascinating insights into very different job sharing models and showed how versatile the constellation of possibilities can be through job sharing.

How do you work? Does your work fit into your life? Or would you like to work less and more flexibly? Could you imagine doing job sharing? Are there flexible work models in your company? We are looking forward to your comments!