Job sharing—a partnership between two people who share the responsibilities of one full-time position—is one of the least known and most innovative forms of flexwork. With careful planning they work successfully at companies of every shape and size. Melissa Nicholson of Work Muse—the first U.S. business dedicated to job sharing—has helped professional duos reach peak efficiency at any level and in just about any job function.
The origins of Work Muse are found in Melissa’s personal story. When she returned from maternity leave after the birth of her first child, she felt like a failure both in her fast-paced media sales job and as a new mom. Luckily, her manager had worked with top-performing job share teams and proposed job sharing for Melissa as a work-life solution. In 2015, after nearly a decade job sharing with several partners, she was inspired to launch a business to create job share programs that would help employers retain and recruit diverse talent and help individuals create rewarding job shares.
The way that job sharing can help you separate and prioritize work and life are evident in this insider’s view from Melissa:
- I worked three days a week, enjoyed one full day to myself, and had three days to fully engage with my family.
- I got full-time benefits and split my sales commissions 50/50. (Not all job share partners receive full-time benefits, but many do.)
- My partner and I each worked three consecutive days with one day of overlap, which gave us a secret vacation perk! I could take a week off, then we could trade our workweek the second week giving me a full two weeks of vacation!! The employer advantage? My company only missed an employee for two days.
- I never checked my work email on my four “off” days. If my partner needed a quick brainstorm or there was a big decision to be made, she would text me and vice versa, which happened maybe twice a month.
- My job share partner and I were so in sync that we could almost channel what the other would do. People saw us as completely interchangeable and sometimes they would actually call us “job share” instead of our names!
- In a time of family crisis, my job share partner saved the day! Whenever a difficult personal situation arose, my partner took work off my plate or vice versa, so we could focus on our family until we could return to work with focus and clarity.
- I had four partners over the years and every partner made me better at my job. I learned from their strengths, which were different from mine, and our combined expertise made us one super-employee.
- We were leaders in our field and consistent top billers generating between $1.2 and $1.4 million in sales for our company every year.
Melissa says that job sharing is not always easy—it requires extra attention on the front-end to get the team off to a strong start. And, regular check-ups are necessary to make sure the partnership is healthy. But when job shares work, your job adds to, not subtracts from your life.
This article is excerpted from “What You Don’t Know About Job Sharing. Or Me”. Melissa Nicholson is the Founder & CEO of Work Muse, a job share solutions firm and member of the Flexwork for Women Alliance.