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Civil Service

Job share from a manager's persepctive

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Diversity and inclusion, Our Civil Service

Wendy Barnes is the former Chief Operating Officer at the Department for Energy and Climate Change. She describes her experiences of working with a job share partnership below:

“When I was working at a Director in a large private sector industry, I had two job share Personal Assistants. The way it worked was that Jo worked Monday to Wednesday lunchtime and Kath worked Wednesday lunchtime to Friday. They had an hour overlap on a Tuesday which I attended if they needed me to. They covered full time for each other's holidays unless there was an unavoidable clash.

"It was a great arrangement I would certainly repeat in the Civil Service. The experience taught me some lessons about making job share work:

  • The two people doing the job share are not the same person; they have different strengths and it's important to work with these strengths. For example Kath was extremely meticulous and thorough, whereas Jo was great at getting through huge amounts of work but ran the risk of small errors. Jo was great with PowerPoint and technology, and Kath preferred doing work around relationships and making calls. Although there was a core of activities that both Kath and Jo covered, I didn't expect them both to cover all the additional work but we allocated this according to strengths, but at the same time they helped each other develop by sharing work they had done and how they had done it;
  • The three of us had to be a team and avoid situations where two ganged up on the other! If one of us had an issue or challenge we shared it with the other two, not just one. We all trusted each other implicitly;
  • The other Directors' offices didn't have a job share arrangement and we learnt that we had to communicate very clearly how our arrangements worked so that people understood that it could be a different PA depending on what day of the week it was;
  • The key to success was the daily log. This would probably be something on the system these days but at this time it was a book which had all the key things that each PA needed to know about, particularly things that one PA had started and continued in to the time the other PA was in. Without this we would have failed miserably – and we did at first as I was expected to remember these things which I was useless at, but the log saved us. The log also helped protect the time of the PA who wasn't in work as it prevented calls to check up on things. We protected the non-work time with a passion and the two of us that were in, me and the PA, would make sure we went to all lengths to sort out an issue and not contact the PA who wasn't in as we saw that an unfair and we viewed contacting them as a no-go area."

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