Shape The Right Job Share With These 12 Questions

2 Working Moms working together as part of a job share
••• Getty Images/martinedoucet

You've decided it's time to head back to work after having a child but aren't sure you want to work full-time. You love what you do but would prefer to work fewer hours while your child is still young. If you could remain in your current role but have someone else share the responsibilities, you wouldn't lose out on that experience but would still be able to spend time with your child. The way to do that is to participate in a job share.

The Basics of a Job Share

A job share lets two employees divide up a 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 in 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.

For hourly workers, a job share offers a part-time workweek. For salaried employees, a job share offers the opportunity to pursue a high-pressure career without sacrificing your entire life to a company.

Job sharing holds the most promise for work-life balance in demanding fields such as law, medicine, scientific research, and the upper ranks of corporate America.

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.

12 Important Job Share Questions

When you begin the process of establishing a job share arrangement, be sure to get these 12 important questions answered.

  • 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 Co-workers 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 a 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.