How to Shape the Right Job Share With 12 Questions

Creative businesswomen with laptop walking in open plan office with businessmen playing ping pong in background
••• Hero Images / Getty Images

A job share lets you head back to work after having a child without committing to the hours and stress of a full-time gig. Simply put, a job share enables two employees to divide up their workweek. They split a job's responsibilities and its pay. Another phrase for this arrangement is "work-sharing," as in sharing the workload between two people. 

This way of working sprung up during the 1970s but didn't become popular until the 2000s, when working moms were looking for more flexibility in their jobs and quality of life became more of a priority for everyone.

Job sharing can theoretically be done in any profession—including demanding fields such as law, medicine, scientific research, and the upper ranks of corporate America. It can help facilitate a more appropriate work-life balance for parents of young children.

For hourly workers, a job share offers a part-time workweek. For salaried employees, a job share offers the opportunity to continue to pursue a career, only with less pressure to put the company first in your life.

Advantages for Employers

People who participate in a job share are typically highly motivated to make the arrangement last and so generally work hard during the hours they're in the office. That motivation and dedication to the company are incentives for an employer to permit a work-sharing situation.

If your employer is reluctant to agree to a job share, you can make the case that vacations and sick days won't lead to the shared workload coming to a halt. And the second person may bring new insights and strengths into the role that would benefit the company.

12 Important Job Share Questions

A job share takes a lot of work to carry out effectively. And there are many issues you should sort out beforehand. With that in mind, when you begin the process of establishing a job share arrangement, be sure to get answers to these 12 important questions—for your own interest as well as for the benefit of your coworker, your manager, and those who work closely with you:

  • How will the schedule be divided?
  • How will sick days, vacation time, and maternity leave be handled?
  • What benefits will each employee receive and how do they compare to full-time benefits?
  • Is there a plan for promotion and advancement for each member of the job-share team?
  • What happens if one job-share partner wants to end the arrangement?
  • How will responsibilities be handed off to the other person?
  • How will the performance and success of this arrangement be measured?
  • How will the rest of the organization view this arrangement?
  • Will there be an email alias co-workers and clients can use so that both parties are addressed on questions?
  • How can the transition process be made smooth so that the new employee feels fully informed?
  • What are the rules, if any, about being contacted during a person's "off hours"?
  • How will after-regular-hours work emergencies be handled?

Your Coworkers and Boss

It's very important to find someone whom you can easily work with to become your work-sharing partner. Communication will be key, so that those who must interact with you won't feel like your job share arrangement is creating more work or stress for them.

Your boss is the other big factor in making a job share success. If they aren't comfortable with the arrangement or the manner in which you're carrying it out, the job share won't last long.

You and your job-sharing partner must make sure your boss has no reason to complain about how you're both fulfilling the job's responsibilities.