Sara Allen is blazing a trail for job sharing as a way to help us all get the work/life balance that so many of us crave. I’m delighted to share her story, and what she’s working towards, here. Please do get in touch with her if you think she can help you, or if you can help her.
Two years ago, I had my dream job in Whitehall. Running a dementia ‘think tank’, it was about as interesting and valuable a role as I could imagine, and exactly why I joined the Civil Service.
But as I spent yet another wintery night listening to Big Ben strike 10, then 11, and midnight, furiously scribbling to make a crazy deadline, it all just stopped making sense.
My children and husband were long since in bed, and I hadn’t seen them to hear how their respective days went, hadn’t read a bedtime story, or drunk a glass (or two) of wine; and was likely heading home to a messy house and a mountain or two of washing.
And I knew it wasn’t just me feeling so… overwhelmed. I can’t remember the last snatched playgroup coffee/drinks/school gate chat where someone wasn’t struggling to juggle it all, or frustrated because their amazing degree and career promise had gone up in smoke once they’d had kids.
We’re all surrounded by incredibly talented, vibrant women who, not unreasonably, want to realize their work ambitions and have a fulfilling family life (and maybe see their friends occasionally).
But no-one seemed to have found an answer.
I chewed it over for a while (usually with my face crushed into a backpack, or in someone’s armpit, on the tube – ah Northern Line, how I love thee) and kept coming back to a job share I’d had earlier in my career. It had been my favourite post, not because of the work I was doing, but because of the sheer joy of working with someone else with a truly complimentary skillset: she loved a spreadsheet and detail; I loved ideas and problem solving. It was so rewarding and we were so impactful. As I became more senior, and very often the only woman in the room, I’d often really hankered for being part of that pair again, and having someone on my team.
It felt like job-sharing could be a really important part of the solution.
Job-sharing is when two people jointly fulfil a full-time role. What’s brilliant is that it’s only agile for the sharers themselves, who get the benefits of genuinely part-time hours (rather than getting paid for a four-day week and taking calls from the sandpit on a Friday). For absolutely everyone else – team, manager, clients – it’s the same as having a full-time member of staff. In fact, it’s better: two brilliant minds tackling a problem; half the week covered if someone is ill or on holiday; significantly higher productivity etc etc. No-one compromises; and everyone wins. How often can we truly say that?
So why wasn’t job-sharing mainstream? It was clear that there were three (pretty big) blockages:
- Finding great roles
- Finding someone to share with
- Setting up a really effective job share
They were clearly problems, but they didn’t seem that tricky to resolve, so I left my job and set up Further&More to make job-sharing… well, work.
Our offer is pretty simple:
We’ll find you a great role
We’re publishing a weekly list of all of the senior roles open to job shares – but it’s much shorter than ideal. So we decided to be really proactive: our candidates tell us who they’d like to work for, and we approach the employer directly, to tell them about the benefits of job-sharing, and get them on board. And, the great thing is – it’s working!
We’ll find you a great job share pair
We’ve built an online matching tool – a bit like online dating for sharers – to identify potentially brilliant job share pairs. It’s simple and effective.
We’ll help you set up a great job share arrangement
We’ve written the mother of all guides to job-sharing – blimey it’s detailed. And our team of brilliant coaches work with the sharers to help them navigate setting up their job share so it feels right for both.
We’ve got a brilliant, and growing group of candidates, at various stages of exploring job-sharing – some are ready for a new role, others are dipping their toe in (which is great – all welcome). We’d love you and your friends to get involved. Maybe you’re in a full-time job, wishing you could reduce your hours. Maybe you’ve gone part-time in a less challenging role, wishing you could make your ambition and the rest of your life fit together. Or maybe you’ve been out of the workplace for a while and you’re ready to get back in on your terms. Just drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website. We’re always happy to have a chat about your goals and plans.
If you’re an employer, we’d love to hear from you as well.
Finally, we’ve got a couple of events in the pipeline – an evening speed-networking session, and a Saturday retreat (networking, coaching, fun, and food…) so if you fancy either, drop me a line.
And if none of that tickles your fancy, but you’d like to be in a prize draw for a £20 Bobbi Brown voucher, come here and tell us about combining work & parenting.
About Sara Allen:
I’m Mum to a teenager and a five year old (that’s a whole other blog post, but M if you’re reading this, where’s my bloody mascara?); wife to a wonderful man with occasional blood sugar/mood issues; and poker player.