Colleagues Katrina Jones and Gemma Cheeseman discuss whether job sharing offers any benefits.

As far as we are concerned the answer is yes! As job-share partners, we (Katrina Jones and Gemma Cheeseman, Faculty Administrative Officers within Medicine) experience first-hand the benefits a job-share post can bring to our everyday life.

As two working mums with young children, who still want to maintain a career (and more importantly actually converse with adults) and also want to continue to support a family, the flexibility of a job-share allows us to tick all the boxes without compromise.

For us a work/life balance is key. Our job-share arrangement allows us to achieve the best of both worlds – a fulfilling career with continuous opportunities to maintain and develop our skills and more time to focus on family and the daily school run!

The flexibility can even extend further. We cover each other during periods of absence and have the flexibility to swap our days around to fit with personal commitments or family events – Christmas Plays, Sports Days for example.

Is it job-share joy for our employer?

For us, our job-share arrangement is positive, positive, positive. But let’s not forget about our employer – what do they get out of the job-share?

Well two heads are definitely better than one! We both bring diverse skills and experience to the role. We are more energised and productive in our time at work as we can maintain a more equal work life balance.

One of the biggest challenges for employers is retention of talented staff. Job-sharing enables the University to retain staff who may otherwise have left, improving equality at work and retaining motivated, talented staff.

Eureka we’ve done it – what makes a successful job-share?

Communication, communication, communication! We can’t stress enough that this is key to achieving a successful job-share. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean face-to-face interaction, but it does mean you need to develop all the tools to cover all the communication bases.

We have developed our own unique way of working. We manage a shared generic email account to ensure all our emails are managed and actioned as efficiently as possible and nothing slips through the net. We categorise emails as “File once read”, “Action” and “Awaiting information”. This may seem a somewhat simple system but it makes a huge difference to the efficient daily management of a large volume of emails and ensures we always have the most up to date information at a glance.

We also write notes within each email as necessary (Message – Actions – Edit Message – then type what you need to in there). We find this a great way of tracking actions or key information we need to share with each other.

We also share a joint to do list which includes every action we need to complete. We list in priority order so we can see at a glance which needs immediate attention and also include notes and dates beside each action as necessary. We use this list as our main ‘handover’ tool to each other.

It’s also vital that job-share partners invest in each other and trust each other – building a strong and workable relationship is crucial. We certainly support each other in every aspect of the role and if we didn’t we wouldn’t work as effectively as we do. On occasion we even text each other with queries on non-working days!

Another fundamental element of achieving a successful job-share is that all roles and responsibilities within the post are share equally – yes even the filing and making cups of tea! Having one job-share manage all the mundane tasks whilst the other manages all the interesting, high profile tasks is a sure way to breed resentment and contribute to the breakdown of the job-share relationship.

Is there a downside?

In reality other flexible working patterns can have their difficulties, for example trying to fit all your work into compressed hours or spending time catching up from your days off! For us, the nature of a job share means we don’t have to worry about this the majority of the time. There may be rare occasion where we’ve had to work more hours to get things done but this is rare and we are lucky to have line managers who support time owned in lieu.

A job share may not appeal to everyone, but for those seeking a better work life/balance for whatever reason; caring for others, pursing further qualifications or simply wanting to enjoy more time outside of work it certainly offers tremendous benefits. For us and the role we do, it works perfectly and provides us with the flexibility we need at this point in our lives. We hope to see more job sharing opportunities available at the University in the future, it certainly makes us more focused on our job at work from having the time away.

If you have any questions on our job share or how it could work for your please do not hesitate to contact us at

Work life balance – is a job share the answer?

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