“Apply for a job together? Why not. That’s possible at AXA.”
They not only share an office, but also the job: Christina Meyer and Cécile Oberholzer. Both women work as “AXAnauten” in the Innovation team. They both applied together. As a dream team in job sharing. “AXA is innovative. And if it says innovation on the outside, there must be innovation on the inside”, comments Christina Meyer with a wink about her approach.
Innovation Managers, 140% (70% each)
Christina, mother of two small children, came across a job advertisement for an Innovations Manager at AXA. “I was keen straightaway, but working 80 to 100 percent was out of the question for me. The children were still too small.” But Christina wouldn’t be deterred. “I thought of Cécile, a former work colleague. A top professional woman. And she also had small children.” They therefore applied for the job together and are AXA’s first externally recruited job sharing team.
Christina and Cécile are both in the office on Thursdays. “It’s important for us to see each other one day a week”, says Cécile on their organization. We exchange ideas and information as well as solve outstanding problems. They cover each other’s vacations and work absences. Thursdays is also the day on which all AXAnauten co-work and work from a co-working space in Zurich. That way, they also both benefit from a working day in a different environment.
Of course they’re also in close contact on the other days: via WhatsApp, Threema, Slack or Wrap it Up, e-mail and phone. “Regular coordination is important. But just as important is the fact of carrying the decisions of the other person, despite not having been there when the decision was made”, continues Christina.
The requirements for successful job sharing are obvious: “We have a highly result-orientated approach to our work. At the same time, we also complement each other well on a number of points which brings added value”, agree the two women. “Particularly when it comes to new ideas, two heads are better than one. Sometimes we’re bursting with ideas and we inspire each other with energy and drive.”
Mulling over ideas, sharing responsibility and just being able to let go - with job sharing, there’s a sparring partner who’s an equal: “We use our complementary competencies and inspire each other. This often results in new and better ideas.”
But: Sharing a job also requires flexibility. Those who want to be innovative need the courage to try something new and learn from possible mistakes. Like Cécile and Christina: “We always copy each other into emails. But sometimes the person we’ve written to doesn’t reply with cc and then we forget to tell each other what the reply was. Or we haven’t checked whether the reply email has reached us both. It doesn’t happen very often, but we have to become better at tracking this.”
Nevertheless, the women believe that it works well for everyone - at least the employer can count on a highly motivated job-sharing team in Innovation Management.
We divided the job between us on a 140 per cent basis and have two crossover days that we use for joint work, for exchanging ideas and consultations.
As we share the job, we have a sparring partner by our side all the time. This means that our solutions are more considered and varied.
We have an exciting job that, by definition, also has back-up. This way, we can combine work and family.
Expertise, experience, network, flexibility & motivation – everything x 2
As a job-sharing duo, we naturally have two tips: