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    Job sharing: half the work, twice the skills

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    02. November 2022
    7:10 min.

    Flexible working time models have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Thanks to them, employees no longer have to decide what comes first, work or private life, but can instead bring about a reasonable balance between the two. Companies, on the other hand, can also benefit from the latest work patterns. One of them is job sharing, a model that has successfully broken new ground over recent years.

    What’s special about job sharing is that two or more employees share the work and pay of one full-time job and work very closely together in a team. The working times and tasks are individually and flexibly distributed among them. Compared to conventional part-time jobs, tandems can also hold positions with greater responsibilities, which means job sharers are able to further their careers. So this model can be used not least as a valuable tool for the promotion of women, particularly with regard to the large number of parents who have to reconcile child care and professional life. But job sharing is an attractive proposition not only for working mothers and fathers who’d like to spend more time with their families but also for all those who plan to take part in advanced-training programs or quite simply want to try out something new. Everyday tandem life can be autonomously organised to suit the team members’ personal circumstances and preferences, after prior consultations with their line manager, of course.

    Two employees working as one

    Here at Krones, we’ve likewise gained some positive experience with the job-sharing model. There are teams, for example, who have shared a job for years now. “The idea cropped up when my colleague returned to work after her maternity leave,” recalls Tanja Rußler   from the FI Billing Department, who has been in tandem with Renate Buhl since 2012. “First, I did her job for three years. Then I wanted to reduce my overall working hours, so I could spend more time with my children. When Renate returned to work after her maternity leave, our line manager offered us to share the job,” she says. “I was extremely pleased that thanks to job sharing it was possible to keep my job while enjoying a reasonable work/life balance,” adds Renate Buhl.

    Stephanie Edenhofer and Beate Buchhauser from Sales have been in tandem even longer – for what are meanwhile 16 years. Each of them took maternity leave after her second child was born and then returned to work at exactly the same time as the other. “Since we’d known each other before, we joined forces and submitted an application as one employee,” recalls Stephanie Edenhofer.

    Image 30691
    16 years ago, Beate Buchhauser and Stephanie Edenhofer (from the left) returned to work at the same time. They have shared one full-time job ever since.

    The tandem comprising Katrin Maier and Ruxandra Sadovan from CO Financial Planning and Analysis came into being in October 2021. Before her maternity leave, Katrin Maier worked in the FI Group Consolidation Department and Ruxandra Sadovan had been working in Controlling for Eastern  World and Europe for five years. “Last year, our post was filled. And it was possible for me to take one half of it in addition to my job, with Katrin taking the second half,” explains Ruxandra Sadovan.

    Image 30692
    Ruxandra Sadovan and Katrin Maier (from the right) complement each other perfectly in terms of skills and strengths.

    Autonomous working-time and task distribution

    A structured and transparent approach is necessary in order to organise everyday tandem life. “We’ve specified our working times and time schedules so as to ensure the 35 hours required. Therefore, our line manager and our colleagues always know exactly which of us works on which day,” says Beate Buchhauser. “What’s important in this context is that the specified contact person can always be reached. That’s mainly to cover deputising arrangements in the event of sick leave and holidays,” adds Katrin Maier. Whereas the team around Tanja Rußler and Renate Buhl never meets in the office, the other two tandems have in-office working times that partially overlap or even an entire in-person office day together.

    It is at the teams’ discretion how to draw up their working schedule. To give an example: The Tanja Rußler / Renate Buhl tandem processes foreign invoices, complaints and goods consignments. “The tasks are the same for each of us: Whoever is present handles them. And where one of us has stopped, the other one takes over,” says Renate Buhl. To ensure that both of them always have the latest status available, they share a mailbox. As sales coordinators, Stephanie Edenhofer and Beate Buchhauser work with the subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scandinavia and the Baltics. They are responsible for processing any projects in these regions. “Both of us work together on the same projects, just as if we were only one person. That means the one present in the office is responsible for seamlessly carrying on all the tasks at hand on the off-work days of the other. To ensure this goes without a hitch, both of us are invariably included in the mailing list, and the autoreply function must be set appropriately or – if need be – a small hand-over list kept for any open work,” says Stephanie Edenhofer.

    The working approach chosen by Ruxandra Sadovan and Katrin Maier is different because each of them has her own job remit, in addition to the job they share. “We are both equally responsible for controlling and planning processes in the subsidiaries but have distributed the different regions among us. Logically enough, our meetings take place at different times of the day: My meetings with colleagues in China, Asia/Pacific, and Middle East/Africa are held in the morning while Ruxandra talks with staff from North and Latin America, Eastern World and Europe in the afternoon,” explains Katrin Maier. “Furthermore, we have global thematic assignments, which mainly include focal points and tasks that we handle independently of each other,” reports Ruxandra Sadovan.

    Be-all and end-all: personal chemistry and communication

    A properly functioning tandem is conditional on quite a few prerequisites. “One of the most important foundations is the willingness to pull together and assume full responsibility together,” says Beate Buchhauser. “Successful teamwork is only possible when personal chemistry is spot-on. Tanja and I get on well together and also see each other in private life,” adds Renate Buhl. No matter whether the two partners take turns in working or their working times overlap, close and constant communication is indispensable in both cases: “There’s no way round regular consultations. In view of the sheer volume of information received and the need to complete all of the tasks at hand in time, daily planning is a vital constituent of our everyday work routine. That’s why we phone each other several times a day,” says Ruxandra Sadovan. The tandem also requires a certain degree of flexibility: “If one of us falls ill, the other one steps in for her,” to quote Tanja Rußler. “It’s true, both of us are available as contact persons for any questions arising. But it’s still imperative to quickly find your way round certain topics of your tandem partner’s remit,” explains Katrin Maier.

    One of the most important foundations is the willingness to pull together and assume full responsibility together. Erwin HächlBeate BuchhauserSA EU WE U.K., Ireland, Nordic, Baltics

    Two minds know more than one

    Working in tandem can be a viable option for long-standing, qualified Krones employees who for a variety of personal reasons are not able or do not want to work full-time. What my colleagues are really thrilled about is that job sharing offers them an opportunity to spend more time with their children, without this coming at the expense of their own careers. “As a woman and mother, I truly appreciate not having to weigh up what comes first, my professional life or my family, but being able to smoothly reconcile the two,” says Stephanie Edenhofer. “This flexibility enables us to better plan private appointments and our life in general,” adds Renate Buhl.

    But that’s not all. “Job sharing likewise offers you a chance of advancing your career, enhancing your professional skills. These things are difficult to achieve in conventional part-time work,” says Ruxandra Sadovan.

    As a woman and mother, I truly appreciate not having to weigh up what comes first, my professional life or my family, but being able to smoothly reconcile the two. Erwin HächlStephanie EdenhoferSA EU WE U.K., Ireland, Nordic, Baltics

    The company also benefits from this working model because the tandem partners complement each other in terms of skills, strengths and experience while pursuing shared goals. “Stephanie and I trust each other implicitly but we do in fact have different ways of approaching things. Looking at our tasks from different perspectives enables us to come up with a never-ending stream of new ideas and solutions. So we learn from each other time and again. For me, that is co-production, meaning a truly enriching experience,” explains Beate Buchhauser. Hiring two people for the same job likewise serves to improve work quality: “It’s helpful when the partner also looks at certain processes and checks everything. Thanks to the dual-control principle, errors can be minimised, and everyone always knows exactly how things stand,” says Ruxandra Sadovan. Since job sharing is instrumental in achieving a better work/life balance, companies are able to preserve the skills and experience of long-standing employees and get satisfied, fully committed staff while at the same time creating better career options for women.

    02. November 2022
    7:10 min.

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