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Image / Editorial

Sharing is caring: how to make your job share work for you


by Colette Sexton
22nd May 2018
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Fancy the idea of a job share but not sure how to make it work? Colette Sexton, news correspondent at the Sunday Business Post, has you covered.

Job sharing is a relatively new phenomenon in Ireland but the desire for flexibility in work is growing, particularly among younger generations and as a result, workplaces are forced to respond to demands.

The 2018 Deloitte Millennial report found those born between 1983 and 1994 believe that employers that offer more flexibility than they previously did achieve greater profits and provide work environments that are more stimulating, healthy and satisfying. And Irish employers are cottoning on to this, 65 per cent of the 373 companies surveyed for the the IBEC Flexible Working Arrangements Report 2016 had flexible working arrangements in place.

This marks a big change on even 20 years ago.  

Catherine Corcoran, head of management consulting at accounting and business advisory firm RSM Ireland, remembers the early days of Irish job sharing.

“I remember in 1997 attending a town hall meeting where two teachers were interviewed by the parents of fourth class as to how they would make a proposed job-share work. The parish priest facilitated the meeting and the teachers had quite a job to convince. Thankfully things have changed since then!”

When she was a HR manager in the public sector in the late 90s, Catherine worked on a job-sharing arrangement. She worked 2.5 days per week and her fellow job sharer did the same.

“It was one of the first senior roles that was approved for job-sharing in the sector and there was some if not a lot of scepticism as to whether we would make it work,” she said. “I think job-sharing has become much more acceptable now in the workplace and probably easier in terms of colleagues’ acceptance so good handovers and communication and a ‘results’ focus should make it work.”

Catherine and her job-sharer kept a diary of all important conversations and events, had a daily handover and briefed each other by phone as necessary.

“We were so seamless that I was able to continue conversations my job-sharer had the day before as if it had been me having the conversation.”

Want to emulate Catherine’s successful job-share experience? It’s important to leave your ego outside – this is not a competition, it is a coalition. Communication is vital – not just between the job-sharers but also between all other stakeholders involved. It can be very frustrating to expect a response from one person only to hear from someone else entirely. It is important to be patient. Job sharing will take a while to get used to. Check in with one another regularly and ensure both of you, and your employer, are happy with how it is going. Make sure that each of you have a fair share of the “fun” work and of the grunt work. Finally, enjoy it. Make the most of your time in work and your time outside of work and just be thankful that your job share didn’t have to be approved by the local priest!

Think you need more flexibility in your work life? You might want to check this article out, too.