If necessity is the mother of invention, is flexibility the mother of re-invention?
I hope so.
After 15 years of owning and operating a successful boutique Public Relations and Marketing Communications firm, a shifting family dynamic and move from our hometown of 20-plus years led me to believe it was time to re-enter the “conventional” workforce.
The only problem was, my life could not be more different than it was 20-some years ago, when I was a doe-eyed journalist and PR professional willing to put in 65-hour weeks to climb the corporate ladder out of the cubicle and into the corner office. I’d started a freelance writing career. I was finishing a novel. I have sons in high school and college who still require an astounding amount of mothering. In other words, I was too busy for a full-time job. But I was also too skilled for a part-time job; not that any existed that could provide me with the mental stimulation, skill boost and paycheck I desired, anyway.
So, I made one through Job Sharing.
Prospective employers were unflinching, “This is a full-time job.” Hard stop. It would have been easy to acquiesce, take the position, paycheck and generous benefits package and slink off to an office. But that wasn’t what I wanted – and would have resulted inevitably in a boatload of regret and likely, short tenure with the organization.
Instead, I presented the idea of giving them my full effort, part of the time. They would get a professional with over 20-years of experience – within the parameters of the job and beyond – for:
• half the salary of the full-time role;
• a reduced-benefits package;
• a flexible, non-dedicated workspace.
And in return, I would get:
• to re-enter the conventional workforce at 45 years-old and immediately begin updating the skills necessary to stay relevant in modern companies at a time when women 40-and-over fear “aging out” of offices;
• a job that would challenge me in the best ways;
• the freedom to maintain the momentum I’d built with my “side-gigs.”
Would I be willing to give more than part time work if we were under deadline or buried under an avalanche of work? Of course – I’m a team player after all! Could I stack my hours one week so that I could take another week off to vacation with my family? Yes!
Now, imagine being my prospective employer and realizing that, through Job Sharing, they could get two people – with the skills, experience and dedication – I have, for, to borrow a phrase, “the price of one.” Job Sharing really is a win-win situation. Employees get an opportunity to do interesting work and the flexibility they crave and employers get access to talent that wouldn’t otherwise be available in the workforce. And that doesn’t even take into account the increase in productivity realized when your employees can focus on the task at hand knowing they have guaranteed time away from work to accomplish passion projects and ensure their son gets to wrestling practice on time.