In a time of significant belt tightening, where there does not seem to be enough work to go around, isn’t it time we started to consider sharing the load more evenly? At this time many organisations are proposing across-the-board cuts in hours as a way of preventing or minimising job losses. In other words sharing the pain around. Why not take this further and normalise it for most roles?
There are many benefits that come with job sharing. It can increase flexibility for organisations, as well as providing ready-made cover for periods of leave or absence. Job sharing, if deployed strategically, can solve the problem of succession planning. It creates opportunities to increase diversity in the workforce that is associated with increased productivity, creativity, and resilience on top of issues of social justice.
Job-sharing also gives a shot in the arm to young people entering the employment market, who not only will benefit from greater opportunities, but may gain access to enhanced training pathways by giving them the opportunity to study formally part-time and also to be mentored by their job-share partner.
The COVID-driven growing realisation and appreciation of the extent to which home-working is not only viable but can be more productive and engaging, may result in job-sharing becoming more common. Many of us are obliged to work long hours in the service of rents and mortgages in large cities in order to be close to our work.
If we are able to move further afield to take advantage of lower costs of living without losing connection to employment, there is less need to work excessive hours to pay for our shelter. We are all replaceable. This is a lesson taught to us by both major political parties who have demonstrated over the last 10 years that is possible to job-share the role of Prime Minister.
This could be a time, where, with imagination, creativity and courage, we seize the opportunity fundamentally to change our organisation of and relationship with work.
Jim Bright, FAPS is Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU and owns Bright and Associates, a Career Management Consultancy. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DrJimBright