Job Sharing - The Latest Benefit In the Workplace?

By Sarah Werley,

Over the last few years, the workplace landscape has changed. New philosophies and new benefits make employment a whole new ballgame for professionals such as you. Flextime, telecommuting, on-site childcare…the list goes on of evolving on-the-job programs. The latest trend? Job Sharing. It's a relatively new idea that seems to be catching on quickly, especially among working parents and students.

What is Job Sharing?

The concept of job sharing, on a basic level, is simple: two people do the work of one. Two timesheets combine for 40 hours per week, two employees share responsibilities and (usually) a desk, two heads make for more ideas at the cost of one salary.

The Challenges

The execution of a program like Job Sharing, as has been with flextime and other new work concepts, can be tricky. Two employees with complimentary hours have to find some method to coordinate their efforts, communicate and be productive via email, notes and voicemail. Responsibilities of the position must be made clear, and projects have to be well defined for the "partners" to do the best job possible and avoid the overlap of work efforts.

Scheduling can also be an issue--if one person is off on Wednesday afternoons, they might always miss the weekly office meeting. This can usually be handled by choosing a one- or two-hour block of "overlap" time during the week, when both employees are in the office to discuss current projects and attend other office events.

The Benefits

Many employers agree that the benefits of a Job Sharing program, when involving the right type of people, outweigh the challenges. First and foremost, two heads are better than one. When two people are working on a project, there are twice as many ideas to be thought of, twice as many eyes editing a report, twice as many experiences contributing to the end success. Job Sharing also provides a way for working parents and students to hold professional positions part-time, and still have enough time for family and classes. A company can retain many new mothers or professionals going back to school by using a program such as this.

Job Sharing is the most recent model in what promises to be a long line of new work concepts to increase productivity, improve the work environment and make a job work for professionals like you. If you're interested in exploring this idea and others, bring it up with your employer, discuss it with colleagues and consider the benefits of this and other innovative job concepts to make your work environment a better place.

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