DISPELLING SOME MYTHS ABOUT JOB-SHARING…
“Employing job-sharers will cost the production more money”
Job-sharers share one job, this means that they share they rate. The sharing pair will have all of their finances in hand when they negotiate their rate.
This will be split in to a day rate – so for example, for a rate of £1500 p/week – each freelancers will only invoice for their specific days that month at £300 per/day. They will make it clear on their invoice which days they worked and usually send their invoices in together, so payroll can cross reference dates worked.
No extra costs are incurred when employing job-sharers and the final rate agreed for that job will be agreed by both.
The only time job-sharing may come at an extra cost is when those being employed are in very senior staff jobs. In these roles (Exec / Commissioner level) there is usually a handover day where both people will be in for a cross-over day, which means there is an extra ‘day’ effectively to pay for. Companies who use this structure realise the benefits of holding on to very senior, experienced staff and so are willing to invest in this kind of set-up rather than lose key members of their organisations. This rarely happens in freelancing situations though.
Outside of non-scripted television, especially in Drama and film, there may be more room for negotiation with regard to a handover day. No two productions are run and some may have more provision in the budget for a handover day depending on the intensity of the project.
“Job sharing is just for working Mum’s”
Job sharing is for absolutely anyone who wants or needs it, regardless of their personal circumstances. It is a model that works well for parents who cannot always commit to full-time work, but the set-up can also be applied to any pairing of freelancers. People who perhaps have a health condition or disability, those who maybe have elderly parents, a partner or family member who needs additional support. Sometimes people want to job-share because they are at that time in their lives where they just want to work a little less. Often people want to job-share because they have a side project, a small business venture or are pursuing further study.
Don’t think of job-sharing a simply something that’s ‘just for the Mums’ – is a vital way for EVERYONE to create a way of working that works for them, in an industry that does not have part-time positions.
“So much more work is involved hiring two freelancers instead of one”
Again, not true. The only ‘extra’ work involved is the raising of contacts and setting up each freelancers on the system. Two people are added to payroll rather than one and once they are set-up, they’re ready to go.
At no point should any member of staff have to repeat themselves or handover any extra information. This is entirely the responsibility of the job-sharers. The handover is the most vital part of the job – and no one will be more acutely aware of that than the job-sharers themselves.
The job-share pair will ensure communication is thorough and effective. Each person is always on hand to ask questions and answer emails. Just because they aren’t in the office that day does not mean that they are not available to speak to their job-share partner. The job-share pair want this to work more than anyone so they will be sure it does, efficiently and to a high standard.
“Job-sharers will slow the workflow down”
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Job-sharers are fast, efficient and fresh when it comes to attacking their part of the week. They’re not complacent – they almost always feel like they need to ‘prove’ the job-share concept works. On handover day, they ensure it’s left in a ‘neat’ place – which may mean working longer to finish a part or write up extensive notes, which usually means things are more organised, structured and efficient, not less.
The nature of doing a handover mid-way through the week means that there is a clear way of knowing what has been done and what still needs to be done. It focuses everyone involved and makes things efficient.
Neither job-sharer will want to be seen as ‘not pulling their weight’ (especially not by their job-share partner) meaning that there is no time wasting for job-sharers!
“Job sharing won’t work on new formats – only long running, established series”
Job sharing arguably works even BETTER for new formats. Think about it. You are employing two highly talented and experienced freelancers who both give their input and creativity to a project. No matter what the job role. Job-sharers share their experience and work together collaboratively to drive a new format. There is a swap over mid-week so you get a fresh head on the production who is raring to go with ideas.
How can this not be a great option? New formats often involve long hours. Employing one person who is expected to do very long hours and make every decision alone can lead to burn-out and in some cases, bad decision making – why not employ two to share the load?
“We’ll have to do everything twice”
NEVER! The job-sharers will ensure that they communicate regularly and that handovers are extremely comprehensive. It is up to the pair to pass over the information to one another, there doesn’t need to be any doubling up!
If there are important meetings that it is felt both should attend, then with a little notice, job-sharers can usually structure their week differently so they can both be there – or some choose to attend via FaceTime or to have crucial parts of the meeting filmed so that it’s passed over verbatim!
“How will the handover work?”
Both of the job-share pair ensure they are copied in to all emails throughout the week. In some cases, job-sharers use one email address, but this isn’t essential – it works perfectly well with two separate ones!
Most job-sharers speak most days on their way home or during their lunch break. Communication is key.
Most job-share pairs also make notes as they go throughout their half of the week so that when it comes to hand over day, nothing is forgotten.
On the handover day, comprehensive notes are put together and sent via email. Sometimes a link to the latest cut of the show will also be sent so that it can be watched a home overnight – again, avoiding wasting any time the following day. Once the person who’s being handed over to has had chance to read through the handover notes, the job-share pair will have another call and clarify anything that might still be unclear.
“Staff won’t like having to report to two people”
This is production dependent. It’s a personal preference and not something that is a rule! If the senior staff on the production embrace the job-share, then everyone else will too!
“What happens if we like one person who applies but not the other?”
That is something to be discussed at the point of interview. Most freelancers do have more than one person as an option of who they can share with, so it is usually possible to change the combination. However, it can sometimes be difficult to balance non-work commitments and all of the pieces of the jigsaw that need to come together before freelancers can job-share. Have an open and honest conversation about any hiring concerns – don’t just rule out a job-share without exploring the various options.
Remember too that there will have been many, many times where employers haven’t taken on the right person, where working relationships don’t playout quite as you would have hoped. Job-shares want to make this work – they will not pair themselves with anyone who they don’t trust wholeheartedly to do the job with them, so to a degree, you must trust the pairing freelancers put themselves in – give it a go! – you may be surprised!!