According to Owl Labs, flexibility has become one of the most sought-after values in a company. And many employees insist that the return to the office movement diminishes their flexibility, which they need for a better work-life balance. A new report from Jitjatjo, confirms that flexibility remains the primary driver for individuals switching from typical office hours to flexible gig work with 63% saying that setting their own schedule makes gig work more attractive than a traditional office job. Across all age groups, 44% of U.S. respondents say they would consider leaving their full-time role for contingent work if it allowed a four-day workweek, and 53% of those who have made the switch attribute it to their interest in flexibility and work/life balance. Jitjatjo’s report finds that 74% of Americans under 45 believe flexible workers will drive America’s future economy eventually—not traditional/full-time workers.
These New Flexible Jobs Are Enjoying A Renaissance
In addition to the gig economy, another flexible form of work is making a comeback. Job sharing—when two or more employees share hours for the same job—provides flexible ways of working and could—is on the rise. This doesn’t mean that the hours are split 50/50. One person might work two full days a week, while the other works three. In total, the overall hours worked by the employees who share the job are equivalent to the full-time hours for the job. Sharing the same job satisfies the need to retain women in the workplace by offering flexible employment options that can help them balance their careers around childcare & other caring needs.
“Our Adzuna data shows that the proportion of U.S. job ads promoting job sharing has nearly doubled in the U.S. since the pandemic, rising from 0.013% of job ads (603) in January 2020 to 0.02% in January 2024 (1,532),” James Neave, head of data science at Adzuna told me by email. “Since the pandemic, flexible working options are more in demand than ever, and the rise in employers promoting job shares reflects this.” According to Neave, this is how it works. Typically, this happens when a job applicant or current employee asks their employer for a job share. Once it’s approved, employees (or soon-to-be worker) assumes the responsibility to find a suitable candidate to share the role with them. Once the right person is found, based on interviews and requirements set by the employer, both are then able to figure out the hours each will be working, along with the best ways of communicating who will be working when.
The Win-Win Benefits Of Job Sharing
Neave believes there are a handful of benefits for both employees and employers. Job sharing allows employees to have greater flexibility by allowing people to work in a way that suits them best and achieve a better work-life balance. Plus, it creates a win-win with more job satisfaction among employees, a more productive work environment overall and the potential to improve business outcomes. “Since no two individuals are the same, employers gain more skills by having two people’s insights, ideas and skills,” he explains. “For example, if two job sharers both have 10 years of experience each, an employer gains 20 years. In addition, a new talent pool is unlocked for employers by widening their reach of who they can hire. Through job sharing, employers themselves are also provided opportunities for flexibility. For example, if previous employees continually experienced burnout, employers can choose to create a role that requires six days rather than five; each sharer could work 3 days rather than five. Not only would this boost job satisfaction but would also increase output and productivity.
The Pros And Cons Of Job Sharing
Although sharing a job has many positive aspects for employees and employers, it’s not for everyone, according to Neave, who emphasizes the importance of weighing the pros and cons before jumping into this type of arrangement. He insists that it’s the employee’s responsibility to find an appropriate candidate to share the role, and that is the tough part, because you want to find someone you trust. He acknowledges that there are drawbacks to job sharing. If a company lacks an extensive network of employees with similar or relevant skills, finding the right person can take a long time. Plus, employees and employers need to make sure job sharing is financially sustainable for them, especially since this arrangement leads to a net reduction in salary. And not all jobs are suitable for job sharing. He cites software development roles that require a level of immersion into long-term projects as an example when it isn’t always feasible for someone else to step into the role and seamlessly pick up where another worker left off.
The upside of job sharing, according to Neave, is that it offers people the ability to continue working in a job in addition to balancing other aspects of their lives. “For instance, it allows creatives who want to set up a business or enter the world of freelancing to have the financial security blanket they need,” he notes. “And it allows students to work in professional-level roles while they study. Job sharing could also be part of the solution to equity, diversity and inclusion challenges in the workplace. More working moms have the option to continue working or to gain skills to progress in their careers part-time; working opportunities could increase employment participation for disabled people as well.
Five Tips To Make Job Sharing Successful
To create a successful arrangement, make sure both sharer(s) are on the same page. Neave offers five tips on how to make that happen.
- Invest time in understanding each other’s working style. This is important before agreeing to this kind of arrangement and beneficial as the work relationship moves forward.
- Create clear boundaries, and stick to them! Make sure both parties know their hours of work and responsibilities. Make sure boundaries and hours are respected.
- Make communication the number one priority. Communicate progress made with shared projects, as well as challenges with the job sharer and the boss. This is especially important for visibility if office and online hours are different.
- Set up a clear handover process. This is extra important if there isn’t a regular crossover of the joint hours. Keep abreast of the work that’s been done and what needs doing to get that over the line.
- Stand united. Use “us” and “we” language in communications to show you’re operating as a team. If someone else on the internal team prefers speaking to one job-sharer over another, address this head-on to ensure everyone gets the same level of respect and insight.