Lucy and Heather share the role of Head of Area Manager.
Job sharing in the Housing and Land team
I started as Head of Area Manager in 2014. I wanted to spend more time with my daughter, so I agreed with my manager that I’d work compressed hours: four days a week instead of five.
However, this is a very demanding role, which involves a lot of stakeholder management, attending meetings and managing a large team. As such, I felt I had to squeeze too many meetings and too much work into my four days.
I knew that this arrangement wasn’t working well for me, so I was able to have an open conversation with my manager about it. They were very supportive, and agreed to my request to reduce my hours to part-time, recruiting a job share partner to cover the remaining hours per week.
We agreed to a trial period of four months, after which we would review how it was going with the rest of the team.
If you can make a job share work well, you can get much more done with two people than one. I prefer this way of working, rather than compressed hours, as I get the right balance of home and work, and I know that the role is being fully covered every day of the week.
The most important part of a job share is communication. Good communication means that either of us can liaise with a stakeholder and we’ll both always be up to speed. The great thing is, so far, we haven’t disagreed on any decision. We seem to know instinctively when to decide ourselves, and when we need to check with each other first.
To make a job share work you can’t be a control freak. Instead, you can be honest about what you enjoy, or which areas you want to improve on, and then allocate the work between you. For example, Heather has a fantastic knowledge of the programme part of the role, so I’m able to learn huge amounts from her.
The support from my manager has been great throughout the whole process. Everyone in my team was really open to the trial period.
I've worked at City Hall since 2012, after transferring over from the Homes and Communities Agency. I have twenty years’ experience in job sharing, having worked in four different roles alongside another colleague. Over this time I was supported with several requests to change my hours to suit my needs at different times of my career.
This flexibility has been great for my career development. It’s given me the opportunity to ‘act up’ in a more senior role, which meant I was better able to take on a senior role permanently.
At the end of 2014 I was promoted to job share the Head of Area Manager post with Lucy and am thoroughly enjoying the role. I job share this role two days a week, and two days a week in my existing role as Senior Area Manager.
To do this, it’s crucial that we each communicate well with our teams to make sure the different set-ups work well for them; for example, regular one-to-ones with different managers. What’s been great is that the teams really support this arrangement.
Lucy and I communicate really well; we have good systems in place so that we can quickly pick up each other’s work. We aren’t competitive with each other. Being honest about the skills we have and where we want to improve has actually meant we’re able to learn from each other really effectively. For example Lucy brings a host of skills from working as a consultant on a wide variety of projects which can be applied to the projects in our team.
The major benefit is that when one of us takes two weeks’ leave, there’s still someone in the office. It’s really comforting to know things haven’t come to a standstill while you’re away.
As a manager with my own flexible working arrangement, I understand the benefits to both sides. As a result, we promote flexible working in our teams and respond positively to requests for new arrangements.