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Annie Russell and Clare Carter: A week of two halves

Thursday 17 August 2017

Annie Russell and Clare Carter, Senior Strategic Planning & Content Manager at Acas discuss the benefits and practicalities of job sharing.

Annie Russell and Clare Carter Annie Russell and Clare Carter

Annie and Clare work in the Acas Communications Team as its Senior Strategic Planning & Content Manager.




Depending on the day of the week, we have various tools to do our job. One day it might be a packet of wet wipes, a crayon and colouring book. Lunch might be blueberries and bread sticks while the working conditions often involve active play. It's slightly different during the other half of the week, when we swap crayons for a laptop and phone, our colleagues (mostly) behave a bit better and there's much less chance of getting lunch on our clothes.

We're a job share. Two kids each, living in two different counties sharing one job in London. We each work three days, overlapping on a Wednesday. So even when one of us is braving soft play or sitting knee deep in a sandpit, our job is still being carried out by the other.

This is our way of pursuing our careers, while balancing the needs of both work and home life.

Here are our top tips for making it work for you:

  1. Job shares are relationships and like all good relationships, they take time to develop and grow, as you learn how the other works. From the very beginning think about your working patterns, the handover, how you like to communicate with each other and the team, and how you might handle disagreements.
  2. Trust is important - between each other. It's lovely to get two perspectives/brains in a role, but it also means doing a lot of behind the scenes planning to ensure you both feel you're going in the right direction with a project or making the right decision. You don't need to be the same person but you do need to share similar values and trust your partner to get the job done well.
  3. Flexibility works both ways. Acas new research, pdf icon Flexibility in the Workplace: Implications of flexible work arrangements for individuals, teams and organisations [472kb], suggests managers want you to be 'flexible with flexibility' and we've certainly found it helps if to be flexible with each other. We are always available to each other outside work, to clarify something or get a second opinion on a decision.
  4. Supportive line managers are essential. It helps us that our managers are also a job share and that we work in a team that accommodates work and caring commitments, academic study and outside business interests. This is about cultural norms.
  5. Job share is not a gender issue, but this year we led on the Acas/GEO campaign to launch the new guidance on pdf icon Managing gender pay reporting [551kb] which highlights how employers can make the most of flexible working to tackle their gender pay gap. We believe job sharing enables businesses to do this.
  6. And finally....eventually all successful job sharers will start dressing the same. That second sense you develop, of two minds thinking as one, can also mean you both decide to wear the same top to an important meeting and feel a bit silly.

But, silliness aside, we think it's worth it.

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