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9 Tips for Effective Job Sharing


Job sharing is an arrangement that lets you share the tasks of a full-time position with one or more employees. Effective job sharing almost always involves some trial-and-error, but the effort can have advantages for everybody involved. Team work and communication are essential.

  • Choose a work partner who has a compatible personality, style of work, and commitment to the job. Your closest co-worker may not be the best partner if you have very different values and priorities.
  • Consider whether to work with someone who has the same or different skills. You might learn more or do a better job if you work with someone who has strengths you don't.
  • Develop a system for communicating with your partner. Err on the side of too much communication. Talk about what both of you need to know and how you will bring each other up to date on what happened when one of you wasn't working. Decide what information is important enough to warrant interrupting each other's time away from work.
  • Experiment with different ways of dividing up the work. Figure out whether it would be better to share all aspects of the job or to have some shared and some individual tasks.
  • Set up a shared logbook or computer file to record information that both of you need to have. Talk about what should go into it. For example, will you make a note of all conversations with customers or vendors or only the most important?
  • Work out a way to handle e-mail and voice mail. Consider using a single e-mail address and telephone number, so either of you can respond to messages. Keep printed material in well-organized files that both of you can access easily.
  • Solve problems as a team. Consult with your partner about solutions even if you think you know what's best. Resentments may grow if one of you too often makes decisions without consulting the other.
  • Support each other when dealing with co-workers and customers. If you have differences, work them out in private. Avoid criticizing or second-guessing each other with co-workers, customers, or vendors.
  • Have a plan for handling emergencies. Work out what you will do if one of you has to miss work because of illness or an emergency. Would each of you be willing and able to cover for the other under some circumstances?

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