Jana, in 2013 you were a recruitment consultant and received a joint application – two women applied for one full-time job – and only two days later you and Anna resigned to found Tandemploy. That sounds like an extremely inspiring experience!
JANA It was! Anna and I were colleagues back then – and the tandem application started the ball rolling. It was sheer coincidence that I met Anna in the corridor after the job interview with the two applicants and then I told her about it. We were fascinated by this model and started to do some research independently of each other the same evening. We realised that this model could be a pragmatic solution to many problems of the job market – and back then hardly any company made use of this.
ANNA Things started to happen very fast. We both resigned and a year later Tandemploy was launched. With our platform people find suitable job-sharing partners and companies that are open-minded towards this model through a clever algorithm. Since mid-2016 our software is also available as an internal solution: flex:workz. The employees of Beiersdorf find job-sharing partners among their colleagues on their own and, if requested, anonymously. Other DAX companies are using flex:workz to give their employees the opportunity to put together project teams independently, to organise job rotations and mentoring. That is real flexibility and real commitment which are often only empty words.
You have three years of experience now – which jobs are particularly suitable for job-sharing?
JANA Actually, all typical full-time jobs are suited to job-sharing: consulting, programming, sales, marketing – there are no limits. Many jobsharers are sharing more than the traditional 40 hours and work more than 100%. It’s rather a question of a different way to organise the work: independently and at the same time as a close team, with a goal and a strong sparring partner. This not only benefits the job-sharer but also the companies which get an all-rounder as well as very well-informed sick- and vacation-leave cover. That is lived knowledge transfer and a serious flexibilisation of structures and rigid opinions on jobs.
ANNA We have everything from small 15- person companies to DAX companies: creative agencies, banks, real estate firms. The minimum factor or the basic requirement is openness to new things and the willingness to surrender some control, to trust the employees more.
The feedback on your start-up is very positive, even the BBC has covered you and you are welcome guests at conferences. That sounds like pioneering work
ANNA If you really want to tackle an issue and change something, like in our case the working world, you break with the status quo, with closely- held customs. That makes it uncomfortable sometimes but all the more exciting and in the end more eective. We back what we do and believe that a better working world is possible. Sometimes you have to have utopian dreams – but you must never neglect the specific, practical moves.
Sharing one job between two people with two brains and twice the talent. sounds incredible. But the boss might think about twice the employer costs. How do you explain that job-sharing is definitely profitable?
JANA We like to calculate that for them in a specific case. Job-sharing saves money! Think about the downtime costs that can be saved if a well-briefed replacement is there all the time or at least someone who can keep the most important processes running. Not to mention the increase in productivity – studies suggest up to 30%.
Two thirds of Germans are of the opinion that the compatibility of family and career is altogether “not so good”. Is family the primary motive of the employees who register on Tandemploy?
ANNA ‘Family’ and ‘private projects’ share the number-one spot followed by ‘advanced vocational training’, ‘volunteer work’, ‘nursing’, and ‘partial retirement’. Our proportion of men is quite high, around 30%. By comparison the part-time quota for men in Germany stagnates at circa 6%. Job-sharing appeals to all ages, which you recognise by the motives. It is a model for different stages of life.
Part-time is still a women’s issue. How can you make part-time tempting for men?
JANA By not treating it as a women’s issue. Communication can accomplish a lot. A wish for more time is by no means a female wish but a human one. Job-sharing is also suitable for challenging jobs up to executive positions – that makes it more attractive for men, too. A career in the classical sense is possible with job-sharing. Many tandems get promoted together.
In the beginning Tandemploy oered matching via a platform, but now you also oer your software to companies. Do you dream of a world in which every company is using Tandemploy, even if your own company would be obsolete then?
JANA That is a nice vision. But even if our software would change a lot, we would surely not become obsolete. When the implementation of flexible working models becomes more natural really exciting doors will open for us. It never gets boring!
What is your vision of the working world in 20 years? Will we have dismissed the present culture and controlled working time by then?
JANA Work will finally fit the life of people, not the other way round. Every last company will have understood how important that is. And we will have succeeded in putting into practice our theoretical knowledge about good work and productivity.
ANNA We rely on cooperation instead of competition, up to leadership. There will be no hierarchy based on power or a dog-eat-dog attitude. The person who knows most about an issue and who likes leading will lead. The motto will be ‘Trust instead of control’. And we will finally have broken away from the present culture.
JANA And the female quota will have become redundant. There is no law against dreaming.