Job Sharing: The Work-life Balance Alternative You Didn’t Know About

job sharing

People are used to saying that sharing is caring, which makes sense, after all. You share food with your friends (unless you’re Joey from Friends), share your flat with roommates to save money, share your Netflix account, and share your job. Wait. What? Is job sharing a real thing? 

Would you believe that almost 19% of organizations allow some employees to have a job sharing solution? Two people dividing working hours and tasks from the same shift?

Job sharing is a common practice in the public and federal sectors. Private industries, however, are slowly opening to this solution to allow more flexibility and freedom to their employees. 

Splitting duties increases flexibility in the working hours, making this model one of the best alternatives to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Let’s look at how job sharing works and why you should consider it if you are looking for a flexible solution for your job.

What Is Job Sharing?

As you might have heard by now, flexible time and independent location are now the priorities for most employees. After months of working from home, people got used to alternative work solutions to be freer during the day. Looking at the options, job sharing is one of the best alternatives to remote jobs to achieve a more flexible working schedule. In short, it’s a work arrangement in which at least two employees split the time, responsibilities, working tasks, and salary of a full-time position. 

Sharing the same position with one or more colleagues can happen in different ways. Likewise, personalities can be very different, as long as they are compatible with communication, organizational systems, and company achievements. 

Types of Job Sharing Arrangements

How do you and your colleague manage time when job sharing?  And, how do you divide tasks and responsibilities with this type of arrangement? The most common option is splitting the work-time or the workload 50/50. However, there are different solutions to break the role and working hours depending on employees’ needs. In addition, employees sharing the same positions have the option of working separately or together for a few shifts. 

These are the most common types of job sharing: 

1. The Twin Model

With this model, two employees share one full-time position splitting the same tasks on different weekdays. The two job sharers work on their tasks as a team, usually with at least one overlapping day to brief on current duties and bottlenecks. 

During the week, the working hours are usually split in two ways: half days or half week. For example, two employees have a share day on Monday to catch up on daily activities and then work alternate days for the rest of the week. 

2. The Island Model

Unlike the first model, employees can specialize and focus on various tasks and improve their specialized skill set with this system. In short, each partner has different responsibilities and performs separate tasks. The aim of this model is slipping tasks and duties based on the skill level and strengths of each partner. As a result, both employees can give a better performance in different areas of their role, maximizing the quality of their work. In addition, splitting tasks, both partners complete their work independently with regular meetings. For example, in a development team, two IT experts can concentrate on different jobs, like cybersecurity and maintaining the system.

3. Other Solutions For Job Sharing

The first two models are the most popular when it comes to job sharing. However, as a flexible solution, some different structures and options work with job sharing arrangement: 

  • Same shift: Both partners work the same days and hours. 
  • Split day: Partners work on the same days during different hours. 
  • Integrational model: This model pairs a junior and a senior position. The point isn’t only mentoring but also dividing tasks based on different skills. This model works very well when there is a senior position with extensive experience in the field and a junior position with a better command of digital tools. 

Job Sharing vs. Part-time Job  

job sharing

From an employee perspective, You might be wondering what’s the difference between job sharing and a part-time position. 

A job-sharing arrangement is a form of part-time work where team members work less than 40 hours per week. Usually, traditional part-time positions are related to administrative and supportive tasks, making more challenging career advancement and promotions due to lack of responsibilities. 

On the other hand, job sharing means splitting duties and tasks of the same role, sometimes taking over crucial responsibilities. With job-sharing options, employees have more continuity in the position, which means more chances for career advancement and relocations. 

In addition, part-time positions often attempt to squeeze a full-time role in half the time, saving company costs. Job sharing guarantees you a fair division of time and responsibilities, with a better work-life balance. Having two people working in the same position means that none will work overtime to finish tasks because the other colleagues will do share duties.

Job sharing solutions are a flexible and convenient option for employees. Where are the benefits for employers? 

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of job sharing for team leaders: 

Job Sharing Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Job Sharing For Employers

  • Having two people working in the same position means having multiple and complementary skills to achieve the same goal
  • More people working on the same tasks increase problem-solving and creative solutions to bottlenecks
  • Continuity and coverage during holidays and sick days, which decrease absenteeism
  • If one team member leaves the company, you have a guaranteed time window while looking for a replacement
  • Decreased risk of employees burnout and employee retention
  • More people working on tasks in busy times
  • Lack of additional costs for the company 

Disadvantages of Job Sharing For Employers

  • Hiring compatible partners 
  • Reversing sharing arrangement 
  • Ensuring that both employees equally share time and workload
  • Additional supervision by team leaders
  • HR arrangements for salary and benefits

And on the flip side of the coin?

Advantages of Job Sharing For Employees

  • Access to challenging roles working at the same time as a part-time position 
  • The opportunity of expanding tasks and responsibilities according to the partner and projects
  • Flexible arrangement for a better work-life balance
  • Development of new skills and expertise 
  • As an integral part of the team, job sharer join regular meetings and make decisions for the team
  • Better integration into the company and opportunity for career advancement more extensive network thanks to the duo

Disadvantages of Job Sharing For Employees

  • Finding the right partner 
  • Fair and equal distribution of workload
  • Internal communication  
  • Dealing with different method and way of working 

Tips To Make Job Sharing Work

Job sharing can be a great work-life balance alternative, but it can also become a nightmar. For example, you can witness the unequal distribution of responsibilities, lack of planning and communication, or simply working with an incompatible partner with whom you fight more than work.

On the flip side, you can have more flexibility on working hours and less stress in completing tasks with the right arrangement. 

Here are few tips to make the job sharing experience enjoyable and effective:

#1. Work with a partner with complementary skills and attitude

That’s true in any team on earth. Working with compatible people is the best way to boost productivity and speed up work processes. So, what you propose your arrangement, make sure to mansion someone who has comèlementary skills and a type of personality that compensates you. For example, you are a better planner but too shy to network and interact with people? Tiy can propose a partner who enjoys taking the scene during meetings and maybe lack organizational skills. 

#2. Build a relationship based on mutual trust and transparency 

Working is all about trust. Trust doesn’t mean that you never question your partner. Anyone can get mistaken or take the wrong angle on things. You trust that your partner does his part at its best. Trust is how you make this arrangement work without turning in a full-time position to supervise your partner.

#3. Plan schedule and tasks, and write them down for each member of the team

Always plan what you two will do and make sure to communicate it to the rest of the team. If you are working different days, remember to other team members who are available for contact and feedback or working on what. It sounds tricky initially, but it will be easier to plan two weeks once you find your balance! 

#4. Don’t compete with your job partner. You have the same goal, after all: achieving a better work-life balance! 

Last but not least, don’t compete with your partner. Working on the same tasks can make you feel you need to speed up or work more, but that’s never the point. You and your partner have the same goal: more flexible time doing a challenging and rewarding job. If you start to compete, you will never understand balancing the two personalities and finding a balance that works for both your expertise! 

How to Land a Job Share Position

Usually, traditional job boards don’t have open positions with job sharing solutions. As these options aren’t advertised, you need to go deeper into your research to land the perfect job share position. The first step is to find out which companies allow job sharing programs. Generally, most companies list their conditions on the employee benefits page, or you can mail the HR department for additional information.

When you find the company, the second step is talking with the manager. At this stage, it’s important to have a partner in mind. As we mentioned initially, working with an incompatible partner will make your job more complicated than easier. During the interview process, you can already propose a partner. And when you submit your CV, add a cover letter explaining why you two are the best fit as a team in the position. If you already live together, you can list your achievement and previous arrangements.

If you want to propose this option to your current manager, you can discuss a new arrangement during a meeting. List why you need a partner to improve your performance and how more flexibility will increase your productivity relying on complementary skills. 

Just remember what we said initially. Job sharing isn’t a very traditional solution, and it’s more common in public roles than in private companies. If your manager isn’t confident with it, you can prepare a detailed plan upfront splitting hours and workload. In addition, you can list how your partner will cover tasks and complement your skills. 

With the spread of remote work and hybrid models, flexible solutions are the priority for many employees – and consequently, employers. Even if your company isn’t used to it, don’t give up. Prepare a solid plan and open the way for your colleagues! 

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