Job Sharing and Its Benefits for Parents

The Benefits of Job Sharing, and Other FAQ's

Two female friends working on a laptop at home
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If you're considering a job share as a way to survive in our 24-7 working world, you'll want to understand what a job share is and learn the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about job sharing.

FAQs about job sharing include, what are the benefits for you, perks for the employer and how to implement job sharing.

Job Sharing Benefits for You

For working moms and dads, job sharing offers a crack at a high-powered career -- the kind that normally consumes your every waking moment. With two employees filling that one role, each person can work a 20 (or 30) hour work week while giving the employer full coverage of the position and not slipping into the mommy track.

In many part-time jobs, workers end up with less desirable or challenging assignments because the employer needs the high-profile projects completed on a tight time frame. But a job-share team can tackle that demanding work as well as, if not better than, a full-time employee. After all, each member of the team refreshes her creativity and energy with plenty of time away from work.

Each job-share partner can enjoy the camaraderie of having a colleague with reduced work hours rather than being the only part-time worker in a department. She never has to wonder what she missed at a meeting on her day off because her teammate was there.

Most importantly, job sharing protects employees from being called in on their day off because the job share partner is on duty. Unlike many jobs that are compensated on a part-time basis but hours creep up close to full time, job sharing offers a firm end to the work week.

Job Sharing Benefits for Employers

Another of the FAQs about job sharing involves whether it can benefit employers. In a word, yes! Here's how:

Two minds working together on a single problem will usually devise more creative and varied solutions. Employers get two people with different skills and experiences in a single position, broadening the capabilities of their workforce. For instance, a university can hire a specialist in medieval history and a modern historian while only filling one spot.

Burnout drops and productivity increases because each employee comes in fresh for her half of the workweek. Some managers of job-share teams notice that they are more organized and strategic about their work because they have to explain what they've accomplished each week for the job share partner to pick up where they left off.

Vacation coverage is easier because one employee can be at work while the other is at the beach -- even if it's only for half the week. Job share partners can stagger their time off and might even agree to come in full-time while the other is on vacation.

Job Sharing Implementation

The first question in implementing a job share is the physical space the two employees will share. Should they have a single desk or work side by side? Many job shares overlap for a few hours each week, so it may make sense to be able to accommodate both people at once, if possible.

Next, figure out scheduling. It's most seamless to have the employees decide the weekly schedule between themselves and communicate it to managers and colleagues -- as well as any last-minute changes.

Finally, implement a communications system that both job share partners understand and enjoy using. The simplest is to have a single email address and telephone number. It's helpful to be explicit with other employees and clients about how this will work, so they don't send a private joke meant for one person, only to have the other person read it!