Want to work half as long instead of twice as hard? A job share could be the answer. Sharing a full-time job (thus slashing your working hours) can help clear space and time for study, child care or voluntary work. If you'd like to tip your work-life scale in favour of the latter, perhaps it's time to get sharing.

Who wants a job share?

Working parents or people caring for relatives are obvious contenders, but job shares can be used in other ways, too. Editor Neil King, also an amateur chef, decided to embark on a job share to develop his interests in a way his full-time job couldn't.

By sharing his working hours, Neil has been able to dedicate time to cooking, fulfilling small orders, and has even started a weekend food stall. "Thursdays and Fridays are my cooking days", he says. "I now love both my jobs—my employers get a happier worker as well as the skills of my colleague".

Will your employers go for it?

Persuading a company to hire two people to do the work of one can seem a bit crazy—especially in a downturn. But, says Working Families, which campaigns for work-life balance, it can be done if you can convince the company it’s good for them.

And there are some big names already running job-share schemes: with BP, Boots, Marks & Spencer and Deloitte among them.

Persuading your employer
  • Show how you’ll divide the workload (by time, projects, or splitting it into separate roles)
     
  • Stress the advantages and explain you’ll work together seamlessly, perhaps by having a handover day
     
  • Suggest a pilot scheme if you sense resistance, and point out that job-sharing is rarely long-term—the average scheme lasts for just two years
     
  • Back up your plan with some findings: a Working Families survey found that job sharing is already happening at senior level in large global organisations, and that benefits included more focused staff, retention of key personnel, and absence cover.
     
  • Remind them they'll keep the highest flyers. Research by employment consultants Capability Jane found that 90 per cent of high-powered women would consider leaving their job if they couldn’t work part-time.

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