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Double the people, double the power: Liz Simmonds, Assistant Head (Strategy), Postdoc Academy

I job-shared for seven years and I would say it was a great success.

Returning to work after maternity leave, I wanted to work part-time to enable me to spend time with my children. My boss was very happy to consider a request for three full days per week. However, because my job as a Careers Advisor was a service delivery role, the full five days needed to be covered. Luckily, the person who covered my maternity leave was able to take the remaining two days per week, so we created a job-share with one overlap day per week. 

Being part-time does impact on the rest of the team, for example full team meetings could only happen on days I was in. However, there was never a concern about workload or productivity. In fact I would argue that with a job-share you get more than 100% of a person, plus you have two brains for every problem.

My job-share partner was quite different to me so we often had different ways of looking at a problem and were able to learn from each other, dividing tasks according to our strengths and preferences and making sure to have an overlap. Communication is vitally important - we set up systems to keep each other updated each week about what was happening. The danger is that, in a job-share, you become reliant on always having someone else to make decisions with, and it can sometimes feel paralysing if you can't contact the other person when a decision needs to be made.

I found job-sharing to be a very productive and stimulating way to work. If you communicate well and build a good relationship, you can achieve a lot more than one person working alone because each partner brings their own experience and creativity to the job. It's also a lot of fun!

- Madelaine Chapman, job-share partner


Working part-time has been hugely beneficial to me, my family and the University. I was able to spend time with my children when they were very young. Once they were both at school, I used the time to get tasks done, including exercise, freeing up time to spend with them at weekends. I was chair of the school PTA for three years, and also trained for a triathlon. Being part-time means when I am at work I am fully committed and productive because I know I have time to myself built into the week, as well as time for my family.

In my current role, which I have been in for almost a year, I work four full days per week. My children are a little older, so I felt comfortable that I wasn't with them so much during the week, but wanted to retain one day free to collect them from school and take them to their clubs. My current boss was very open to my proposal to work 0.8FTE which I really appreciated and, in return, I am flexible about attending important meetings and events on my non-working day if I’m needed.

It was a great benefit to the Careers Service, and the researchers we served, having two highly-experienced advisers sharing the same full-time role. Together they doubled the first-hand experiences, brought twice the number of creative ideas and their address book of useful contacts across academia and industry had twice as many pages.

- Gordon Chesterman, Line Manager