While I was pregnant with my second child, a co-worker and friend approached me with the idea of a “job share.” I was instantly intrigued. Since the birth of my first son, I’d felt like working something less than full-time would be a good fit for me and my family, at least for awhile. I didn’t want to take a complete break from my career, I didn’t want to stay home entirely, and I didn’t think one income was financially sustainable for our family- but I did want to work less and to have more time with my kids.
Let me just wade into the Mommy Wars right now on this one. I do not believe having a stay at home parent, a part-time working parent, or a full-time working parents is “better” for kids. There are pros and cons to every arrangement. I also firmly believe that parental happiness has the biggest impact on a kid. So, I was making this change for myself, because I wanted more time at home and a more flexible schedule.
But what would this look like? Like a good elder millennial, I turned to Google. Job shares are a little unorthodox but seem to be growing in popularity as people have similar feelings to those I had and start to think outside of the box. It turns out a job share can really look like whatever the job-sharers and the employer want it to. Of course, a lot depends on the industry, but this is what we ended up doing and what worked really well for the year we shared a job.
Pick the Right Partner
This is pretty intimate arrangement. You’re relying on this other person to do your job, hopefully as you’d do it, when you’re not there. I was very fortunate that my partner and I had worked together for over seven years when we started this, we were already friends and had a good understanding of the other’s style and caliber of work. Without this kind of preexisting relationship, spend some time getting to know the person personally and professionally. Is this someone you can trust in this kind of arrangement? Can you cultivate a relationship that could make this successful?
We sat down and brainstormed and determined that a schedule would make the most sense. It’s important that others in the office and others you deal with know easily who is responsible for what. It could be one person handling clients A-M, the other N-Z; or could be by type of work assignments or time of day. We elected to have my partner work the first half of the week and me the second half. Benefits were minimizing the number of hectic mornings and keeping daycare costs as low as possible. It was also really easy for others to know who was there when.
That’s the key to everything, right? We were constantly forwarding emails and adding the other to email replies, texting as issues arose. There were definitely some areas one of us knew more about than the other, but we did try to make sure we were both at least basically caught up on everything. If you’re two people supposedly operating as one, you have to talk about it constantly.
Check in Regularly- and Have an Idea of How it Will End
Check in with one another at regular intervals about how the arrangement is going. Is it working for both of you? Is there anything you need to tweak? When you start the arrangement, it’s probably also worth having a discussion about how and when it might end. Is it for a set time period? Indefinite? Who gets to call it? And what happens then?
For the year we did a job share, I had what I had been missing since I became a mom- when I was with my kids, I was not worried about work and when I was at work, I was not worried about my kids. This is a working mom’s dream, right? I’m really glad I tried this experiment and had the job share experience.
How are you making work/life balance work for your life?