When sharing becomes a profession Interview on job sharing at Daimler Mobility

November 18, 2019 - Car sharing, desk sharing, clothes sharing — in short, the sharing economy is booming and it is now also firmly established in the world of work. In job sharing, two colleagues split the same position. To find out if this actually works, we asked around within the company. Katrin Haas and Markus Darmstadt are team leaders in the Change & Transformation Office at Daimler Mobility. The thing they have most in common is their job.

You have shared the same position for the past 18 months and you have 28 years of combined work experience at Daimler. How have things gone for you to date?

Darmstadt: I really like this tandem work. Although the term “co-creation” might seem like a buzzword, it really happens when you work in tandem. We work for and with each other on an equal footing. There is no elbowing in this position. I have four children and my wife works full-time. That’s why it’s great that I can reconcile my private and professional lives so well with one another.

Haas: I can only confirm that. Job sharing has many benefits. However, it only works if there is the right chemistry between the job sharers. That’s my most important criterion. Beyond that, job sharing is a brilliant model that should be used more frequently in the future.

How does job sharing work in your case?

Haas: We each have our own focal topics. However, it’s very important to us that the other is always up-to-date and can have their say about the topic. The work we do here is very transparent.

Darmstadt: Transparency was a key concern for us from the very start. That’s how you can also benefit from the fact that there is a second person who contributes thoughts and provides input. In addition, we want to be perceived as a unit because we are jointly responsible for the various topics. This also means that we have a joint goal agreement and our supervisor doesn’t hold the usual employee talks with each of us individually, but with both of us together.

You work in the Change & Transformation Office. What exactly do you do there?

Haas: We promote change processes within teams and units. We help them transition to the digital age, for example. Digitalization leads to new projects and new processes that also affect our job skills and the ways in which we cooperate. These are changes that the employees have to adapt to and prepare for. We support our colleagues in such cases by giving them advice.

How does your team treat you as a duo?

Haas: Our team received us very positively from the very beginning. They appreciate us as a duo and say that it’s our different perspectives in particular that generate added value. Before we started working in this position, we were somewhat concerned that not everyone on the team would accept us as a duo. It’s not so easy for the employees either. We also conduct the employee talks together, which obviously takes some getting used to.

"Job sharing has many benefits," says Haas, who has been working in a job tandem for one and a half years.

How does your team treat you as a duo?

Haas: Our team received us very positively from the very beginning. They appreciate us as a duo and say that it’s our different perspectives in particular that generate added value. Before we started working in this position, we were somewhat concerned that not everyone on the team would accept us as a duo. It’s not so easy for the employees either. We also conduct the employee talks together, which obviously takes some getting used to.

Was your job always meant to be a tandem position?

Darmstadt: To be honest, that wasn’t the case. We both originally applied for the job as a full-time position. During the selection process, our supervisor then had the idea of combining our expertise. We got to know each other during the ongoing application process.

Haas: Before we were offered the job, we had the opportunity to find out what each of us wanted. It was mainly about our leadership requirements, our value system, and how we imagined a shared team leader position would work. In the end, we went with our gut feelings and looked to see whether we got along with one another. After all, you have to cooperate very closely in a tandem position.

What is your main argument in favor of job sharing?

Haas: We can exploit a lot more of a position’s potential by sharing it. This is due, in particular, to our different skills and experiences. Markus has a lot of expertise in human resources, for example. I, on the other hand, know a lot about project and portfolio management. Taken together, that’s more than one person’s professional experience.

Darmstadt: The main argument for me is that you always have a sparring partner who knows precisely what you are dealing with. We are both extensively involved in the same topics. However, we are quite different from one another and look at things from different viewpoints. I think that this increases the quality of our work.

"Transparency was a key concern for us," explains Darmstadt, who is also enjoying more flexibility for his private life.

Why did you decide to accept a shared position?

Haas: In a tandem job, you can also work part-time as a team leader. It’s a great opportunity. I’m also firmly convinced that job sharing is a great way to work and that it gives you many more opportunities than if you are responsible for a position on your own.

Darmstadt: It was my first step into Daimler Mobility. That’s why job sharing has been nothing but a boon for me, because Katrin already knew the ins and outs of the company. It made it easier for me to settle in. And because I work 30 hours per week, I naturally find it easier to organize my personal life.

Are there any disadvantages?

Darmstadt: To share a job, you need to be very mature as a person, because you have to closely interact with another individual. You have to open up to that person and bear with them. As you can imagine, we don’t always agree. Some people may see this as a disadvantage. In the beginning, I also had to get used to the fact that you really share everything in such a position. However, I now only see it as an advantage, because it has enabled me to gain new perspectives.

Would you recommend job sharing?

Haas: Definitely. Basically, all I can say is that people should be braver and more willing to take on tandem jobs.

Darmstadt: Yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think that job sharing is one of the best human resources tools around.

Infobox

The key facts at a glance:

  • Job sharing has existed at Daimler since the mid-1980s.
  • The currently valid job sharing regulations at Daimler AG were laid down around five years ago in connection with a project for the promotion of flexible working time models.
  • Since March 2015, an online part-time work community has been helping users search for potential job sharing partners and find matches. The community also discusses topics related to part-time work and job sharing.
  • More than 250 employees ranging from team leaders to unit heads are currently working in job sharing tandems.
  • If you are interested, take a look at our career page.

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