Two for the Price of One; Is Job-Sharing the Answer to Every Working Mother's Dreams? or Does It Result in Bickering over Who Does What and Who Takes the Credit? We Speak to Four Women Who've Made a Go of It
Bird, Ann, The Mirror (London, England)
Lindsey Hill, below right, and Geraldine Pearson share a category manager's position at Boots.
`We are one person!' says Lindsey Hill with a laugh, as she describes how she and Geraldine Pearson job-share at Boots's head office in Nottingham, so they can spend more time with their young families. They had worked together before but now share the job of category manager for children's wear - responsible for buying, marketing and supplying the goods.
Lindsey, 35, works the first half of the week, leaving at 2.30pm on Wednesday, after catching up with Geraldine, 40, who arrives for the handover at 11.30am.
`We'll usually have a chat on Sunday evenings too, so I know what Geraldine's been doing, and we keep a book in which we log everything,' explains Lindsey. This has proved essential for times such as when a supplier tried to tell Lindsey he'd agreed certain terms with Geraldine. `I got the book out and said, "Yes, you spoke to Geraldine, but that point was not agreed." They didn't try it on again.'
The two women have just one in tray on the desk they share and one e- mail address. `We're not precious about what's addressed to whom,' says Lindsey. But, they are aware the set-up doesn't suit everyone. `There was one job-sharing couple who reached the stage where they weren't even talking on handover day,' recalls Geraldine. `It can be like going on holiday with friends - sometimes it doesn't work out.'
`We're careful that one of us doesn't pass all the nasty bits of work on to the other,' says Lindsey. Each just picks up where the other leaves off.
Lindsey and Geraldine have applied for other jobs within the company as a `package' and been promoted. `We always state that if they take one of us, they take us both,' Lindsey says.
Geraldine sums up their job-share as, `Two brains working on one problem. I think it's better value for the company. And because I'm only in for half the week, I put more energy into what I do.' Their job is worth pounds 40,000 full-time. `We don't take holidays at the same time, so there's one of us doing the job every week, even if only for half of it.'
The pair have worked hard to prove themselves and although sharing a desk was odd at first, Geraldine echoes Lindsey's thoughts when she says, `Now we're like an old married couple.'
Helen Childs, below right, and Isabel Brewer share a business development position at First Quench.
Before they started job-sharing, Isabel and Helen had only met briefly. Helen was wary about how it would work out, but her fears were unfounded. As business development managers, she and Isabel `manage the managers' of over 30 Victoria Wine and Threshers off-licences.
Initially, they discussed ways of splitting the work - by specialisation or geography - but settled on covering the same tasks. …