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4 Secrets to a Successful Job Share

BY KATHERINE LEWIS    Updated on June 25, 2019

Job Sharing Is Like a Marriage

Like a happy marriage, effective job sharing requires trust, flexibility, and compatibility between partners. The big secret behind a successful job-share situation is finding the right fit for employees. This is why if you are going to share your job you take your time finding the right teammate.

Your job-share partner should have a similar professional style, work ethic, career goals and values as you. You don't want to come in for your half of the week and have to re-do all the work your teammate's work because it's not up to snuff.

Most importantly, you should trust that any issues that arise when you are out of the office will be handled in a professional and thorough manner. You must be confident that your job will be performed equally well whether it's your day or theirs.

It Relies on Open Communication

A job share should function as smoothly as if only one person filled the position. You and your partner must communicate as seamlessly as if you shared a brain.

That means setting up systems that make it quick and easy for you to hand off projects to each other. The other person should be able to easily find the answer to questions and understand the work you completed. For instance, at the end of your work shift, leave a memo about the work you completed. You could agree on consistent methods for naming and organizing both computer files and paper records. To help control your shared inbox, develop a way to sort and store e-mail that is efficient and simple.

It's critical to clearly communicate as a united front with other members of your work team. For instance, a job-share team might use a shared email account, but the person writing a given email signs their name.

Some job-share teams work so well together that they even apply for promotions or new jobs as a team. You could either develop a joint resume or have one person apply for the position and mention your interest in job sharing during the interview process.

Set a Consistent Schedule

It may be tempting to split a job share position exactly in half, with each person covering 20 hours a week. That may work for service positions, where you complete all your tasks during the allotted hours and few projects carry over.

For most jobs, it's best for a job-share team to overlap at least once every week. That lets you communicate in person about ongoing projects, meetings, and goals. Some teams have each job-share partner work three days a week, meaning two days by themselves and one shared day (often Wednesday). By working side by side at least once a week, you strengthen the trust and team orientation that will ensure the success of your partnership.

Agree in advance which person is "on call" for after-hours emergencies on any given day. You might want to split each week, alternate weeks or even alternate months, depending on what works best for your other responsibilities.

Be Flexible

One of the key benefits of job sharing is your ability to cover for your partner when they are on vacation or out sick or with a sick child. So it's important to be flexible in scheduling.

Each member of the job-share team should have flexible childcare or backup plans, such as a grandparent or other family member, in case the other partner has a personal emergency on the day when they are scheduled to work.​

You also should communicate well in advance of any major life changes, such as possible maternity leave, applying for a promotion or potential relocation due to a spouse's career change. The last thing you want is to blindside the person who's made it possible for you to enjoy a challenging, gratifying career while also having time for your family.

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