Imagine a world where you get to work at 9am and clock off at 5.30pm. Where you are given an hour for lunch, agreed by your line manager. Where you are expected to work within your job specification and your team members all live within five miles from the office.
Imagine another world where you wake up, check work emails and messages proactively using your wearable technology at home or on the move. Where you are empowered to take control of your decisions and where you compromise by working the hours that suit your life as well as your employer’s needs. Where your colleagues understand your life style and empathise with your way of working hard, flexibly. Where your workforce is truly diverse and your colleagues are a mixed talent from different walks of life working geographically displaced from Head Office.
Now imagine a world which is something in-between. Neither rigid nor flexible for all. This is where I believe we are today and I want to do all that I can to change the way we work.
You may have heard recently many interesting debates around women’s salaries reportedly being lower than men’s after the age of 40. One of the reasons they are citing this is due to the fact that as women wait longer to have children and want to return to work fewer hours, many people believe that the higher paid middle to higher management roles do not lend themselves to a flexible workforce. I know that any role in IT can be done either flexibly or as part of a job share but there are many factors to consider for this to be successful.
I am fortunate to work as part of a job share. I call Clare Anderson my other half at work and together over the last 18 months we have navigated a complex and challenging role managing support for over 100,000 pieces of branch IT hardware in the Waitrose estate. I work Monday to Wednesday and Clare works Wednesday to Friday. We handover on Wednesday and Monday mornings with additional communications should the need arise.
We are passionate about what we do and endeavour to present ourselves as one role for the sake of continuity. We also have individual projects and gauge these on priority, workload and interest. Recently Clare and I were successful in applying for a new role at Microsoft as a job share. There are other employees working in job share partnerships at Microsoft UK, however we believe we are the first to be hired in together as existing job-share partners. This is a fantastic opportunity and, although the role was not advertised in this way, and of course we were assessed for our individual capability from the outset, the Microsoft team was fully supportive and positive throughout the recruitment process.
I often describe Clare as my other half at work because like with any relationship, we have had to nurture each other and work seamlessly in order to make this a success. We met when I joined as an IT service manager at Waitrose where we were given 20 minutes to decide whether we got on. Safe to say it was one of the best decisions of my life and we are now great friends as well as confident workers.
I say I am lucky to work with Clare because we are a great fit. We share the same ethics, and morals, the same sense of humour but we also complement each other with our differences. More often than not we approach problems the same way but sometimes we start to tackle things differently which lends itself to the ‘two heads are better than one’ discussion and a more enlightened approach.
A job share can have any number of challenges; if your job specification is not clearly defined, there are unclear expectations, you miscommunicate or work in a constantly changing environment this can put the relationship under undue stress. However this can be overcome by continuous communications, clear handovers to aid smooth transition days and grouping priorities accordingly. It also helps to empathise with each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we regularly feedback on situations or working styles to see if we can improve ourselves.
I believe that working with Clare as part of a job share has a far greater output than if I was to work as one full time equivalent. At this time in my life, when I need to balance my work and life commitments, this solution has not only helped me but allowed my career to flourish. Surely, if you get the relationship right, this flexible working option makes sense? I think that many companies are missing out on the pool of talented people who are unable to work full time but have a tremendous amount to give. Why don’t we see more people sharing careers in IT?
Anjanie has over 17 years of industrial experience in the IT, aerospace, retail and media sectors. She started her engineering career at 16, winning a sixth form scholarship at British Aerospace and Airbus before being sponsored by BAE Systems to study for her MEng in Systems Engineering at Loughborough University. Anjanie then accepted an apprenticeship as a Broadcast Assistant at the BBC before moving into the IT Industry.
Anjanie is passionate about technology and worked her way up from developing and testing C# .NET applications to becoming the UK Project Office Manager for Global Sourcing at Atos. Anjanie then became a Technical Account Manager at Microsoft, looking after clients in the Retail, Manufacturing and Services Industries. She then took a career sabbatical to look after her young family and also qualified as a teacher in further education, teaching Information Technology at UTC Reading. Anjanie re-started her career with the John Lewis Partnership, a leading retail company, as an IT Service Delivery Manager, also helping to support the development of an IT apprenticeship scheme at Waitrose and will move to Microsoft in October 2015.