Job Sharing: What Is It and Is It a Good Idea for Your Business?

Learn about the pros and cons of dividing a full-time role into two part-time roles.

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These days flexible work arrangements are an increasingly popular option for businesses and employees alike. From attracting top talent through remote work options and flex days, to job sharing and temp roles that offer maximum flexibility, work is no longer simply divided up between full and part-time positions.

One of these approaches — job sharing — has become increasingly popular in recent years. Whether it’s a foreign idea to you or one you’ve been thinking about for some time now but just aren’t quite sure how to implement it, read on for a crash course in the basics of job sharing.

What is job sharing?

Job sharing is one of those things that pretty much sounds like exactly what it is — splitting one job (usually a full-time role) between two people. It involves dividing a role up into two part-time roles.

Sound crazy? Well, it’s certainly new, but in a lot of situations it makes a lot of sense. While dividing a full-time role into two part-time roles to skirt the ethical responsibilities of paying out benefits and the like is far from cool, there are plenty of legitimate reasons that people want to do job sharing.

From taking care of a sick family member, to going back to school or working another job, there are a number of reasons why employees might be interested in splitting one job between two of them.

From taking care of a sick family member, to going back to school or working another job, there are a number of reasons why employees might be interested in splitting one job between two of them.

How does job sharing work?

Beyond the obvious of splitting up the hours or days of work between two employees rather than one, there isn’t one singular way to approach job sharing — it’s up to the company and the employees sharing the role.

As you can imagine, there’s a lot that goes into splitting up a job, so communication is critical. Naturally, the two people doing the job sharing should get along, work well together, and have a solid understanding of the work being carried out and the skills to do so.

Amy Gallo at Harvard Business Review says that, if you’re an employee and you’re able to help decide who you’re sharing the job with, it’s a good idea to “select someone with whom you can easily communicate, collaborate, and disagree. These arrangements often require difficult conversations about prioritizing work, office politics, and personal matters so you want to be sure you pick someone compatible.”

t’s critical to split a job between two employees who are capable of working well not just individually, but also together.

The same goes for leadership if they’re the ones making the call. It’s critical to split a job between two employees who are capable of working well not just individually, but also together.

What are the pros and cons of job sharing?

Like most things, there are pros and cons associated with job sharing.

Some of the positives include attracting talent that only wants part-time work. A split role offers more flexibility and personal time than regular full-time roles do. Then there’s the benefits of two people doing the same job: who else is better to fill in for someone than the other person who does the same job? Plus, two people bring two perspectives to the same work and can help complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

That said, it’s all about how you carry out the job sharing. A lack of communication both externally and internally can lead to issues around everything from meetings and travel plans to the status of various deliverables. Plus, we’ve already discussed how important it is to find the right match for a job sharing situation — it can be tough to find the right person or people to pull it off.

How do I know if job sharing is right for my business?

Only you and the various people involved with the job sharing arrangement — from management to the employees doing the job sharing — can really know if it’s a good idea for your company. There’s no hard and fast way to carry out job sharing, so it’s all about figuring out a way to make it work within your company.

If you’re able to come up with a few ways to give it a try and the benefits listed above or others speak to you, then give it a go. Remember that it can take time to smooth out any bumps in the road that come along with any change. If it’s too much of a headache or you’re struggling to find a way to make it work at your business, then this might not be the right time to try job sharing.

If you do decide to give it a go, keep these pointers in mind:

  • Communication is key — between everyone from those sharing the job to their managers and their contacts, both internal and external
  • Clearly divide up the duties and responsibilities of the role
  • Build a positive relationship with your job sharing partner by celebrating wins together and debriefing ways to make changes when setbacks occur
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