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Jobsharing: Are two heads better than one?

What do you do when you have had a successful and challenging career but events in your private life mean that you can no longer commit to a full-time job? Job sharing provides one interesting option.

Job sharing is quite different to two people working in the same office on a part time basis, Jana Tepe of Tandemploy, a company that connects employers with employees seeking to job share, tells The Local.

“Job sharing is when two people work very closely as a team. It works on the motto that two heads are better than one. It is more efficient and it is more flexible,” says Tepe, who founded Tandemploy in 2013.

The idea is that instead of two part-time people working around each other, two people apply for a job together and cover the work as a team. Sometimes this means working separate hours, sometimes it means working together.

“Because you have two personalities covering the same position, it is much easier to cover core skills. One person can be creative while the other is analytical,” says Tepe.

At the same time, naturally, the working hours of each employee separately are significantly reduced. While this is an obvious attraction for women, who are still more likely to balance their work with raising children, Tepe says that there are other people for whom it is of interest too.

“About 30 percent of the people who come to us are men. While one main reason that people want to do job sharing is because of families, another is that they want time for other projects, something that is especially prevalent in the IT sector,” explains Tepe.

She acknowledges that it is not right for everyone but explains that there could be circumstances which affect anyone which make it a more attractive option.

“Even if you love your job, there could be a situation where for health reasons you can no longer work full-time,” she points out.

The there are those who are older and are seeking to slowly transition from work into retirement, or who unexpectedly have to care for family members.

Another key area in which job sharing can work is by pairing up a foreign worker with a native one.

“If the international employee doesn't yet speak such good German, working with a German can be very useful to them as it helps them better integrate,” Tepe argues. “At the same time the German benefits by getting to learn from a different culture.”

She believes that this could even work for international workers coming to Germany who haven't yet acquired the necessary language skills to work independently.

Finding your other half

Job sharing emerged in the 1980s as the first wave of women who had benefited from equal education to their male peers started having to make decisions on raising a family.

Employers reluctant to lose some of their most talented employees sought to find compromises. Job sharing was seen as attractive because it pooled two skill sets.

Over the last 15 years, as ever more women have achieved the same qualifications as men, the demand for job sharing has risen.

Tandemploy is often approached by employers seeking to pair someone up with an employee they already have who needs to cut down their hours.

Tepe says that the main difficulty is for people to find a partner who compliments their skills. And that's where her company comes in – by providing a platform through which job seekers can be connected to one another and employers can be connected to the appropriate applicants.

Germany slow on the uptake

Although German companies tend to be European leaders when it comes to offering flexible working hours to employees, it still lags considerably behind other countries when it comes to job sharing.

A report by consulting firm Robert Half published in December 2014 showed that 70 percent of German companies offer flexible working hours, well above the European average, a trend that was repeated for a variety of options for parents, such as home office and paternal leave.

But German companies still seem much less convinced of the benefits than their European competitors, with only 15 percent of companies offering it as an option

While this is considerably more than in 2003, when nine percent of companies provided it, it is well below European competitors. Britain leads the way with 48 percent of companies offering job sharing, with the European average currently standing at 25 percent.

Companies that don't offer job sharing mostly commonly cited 'inefficiency in view of our our business demands' as their reason for not doing so, while also mentioning concerns about the negative effect it could have on team work.

Costs for companies will on the face of it also increase, as they will be required to pay social contributions for two employees.

But for Tepe these fears are ungrounded.

“While it is true that companies will have to pay a bit more in social contributions, they will save more in the long-term through the efficiency which job sharing offers. Especially when one employee takes a holiday the other can step in to make the transition seamless,” she argues.

For Tepe the success of job sharing is proved by the rate at which employers take up the pairs which apply through her company.

71 percent of people applying for job shares through them are offered a position, she says.

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Three German cities ranked in the top 10 best places to live

Germany has scored three spots in the top 10 of a new survey of the best cities in the world to live in, with Munich picking up third place.

Three German cities ranked in the top 10 best places to live
Aerial view of Munich. Photo: Depositphotos/Dmitry Rukhlenko

The annual quality of living survey carried out by human resources consulting firm Mercer compares hundreds of cities around the world, ranking them on factors such as crime, education, healthcare, public services, recreation, housing and personal freedom.

SEE ALSO: Germany ranked fourth best company in the world

This year, Munich snagged a joint third position (along with Auckland and Vancouver), while Düsseldorf came sixth, followed by Frankfurt at number seven.

Vienna, in neighbouring Austria, topped the ranking for the 10th year running, closely followed by Zurich in second place.

Of the top 10 cities, European cities took eight of the spots. With Berlin in 13th place, Hamburg at 19 and Nuremberg at 23, Germany’s destinations scored highly in the top 25.

SEE ALSO: 10 facts you probably didn't know about Frankfurt (even if you live there)

Juliane Gruethner, mobility expert at Mercer, told The Local, that Germany was “definitely” a good choice for expats.

“We measure the quality of life in various cities based on the interests of expats,” she said. “From that perspective all the German cities score quite highly when it comes to the economic, social and cultural environment. The medical system in Germany is also very good.”

Gruethner added that the standard of housing in the three top German cities – Munich, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt – was deemed as very good.

She said Munich scored a slightly higher score due to having more “recreation opportunities” when it comes to nightlife and with an outdoor scene close by.

Germany’s international airports also helped push Germany's points up in the survey.

Gruethner added: “There’s pretty good infrastructure for employees in Germany.

“There’s also a lot of international schools.”

Although language is not a factor that it is measured in the ranking, it also plays a role for expats.“People usually speak English especially in the big cities so it’s easy to manoeuver, even if Germany might be perceived as a bit over administrative.”

Strong cultural scene

Munich, in the southern state of Bavaria, has a strong cultural scene and is known for having more of a community feel to it compared to other busy German cities, such as the capital Berlin.

Although prices are high for housing, lots of companies are based there, making it a good place for working.

It also holds the annual beer festival, Oktoberfest, which is loved and visited by tourists throughout the world.

Browse thousands of English-language jobs in Germany

“Düsseldorf diverse and welcoming'

Thomas Geisel, mayor of Düsseldorf in North Rhine-Westphalia, which ranked sixth in the list, described the city as “diverse and welcoming”.

He told Mercer: “Düsseldorf is a strong and innovative international business location, but at the same time, it’s a comfortable, friendly, tolerant and cosmopolitan city with a certain ease about it.”

Geisel said in the future he wants to see the city “continue to grow and expand its economic success in a socially balanced manner”.

He added that the basis for this is sustainable development policy “which includes affordable housing, attractive job perspectives, a better infrastructure and a continuously high quality of living”.

“Over time, the city will become even more international and attract talent from all over the world, and this will all be supported by a broad political consensus,” he added.

Frankfurt, in the state of Hesse, is renowned for being the financial capital of Germany but also plays host to a buzzing social scene, including lots of roof top bars.

The Mercer survey is conducted to inform companies on where best to expand offices or relocate staff.

Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president of Mercer’s career business said: “Companies looking to expand overseas have a host of considerations when identifying where best to locate staff and new offices.

“The key is relevant, reliable data and standardized measurement, which are essential for employers to make critical decisions, from deciding where to establish offices to determining how to distribute, house and remunerate their global workforces.”

Do you live in Munich, Düsseldorf or Frankfurt? Write to us and tell us what you think of them.

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