Anna Kaiser & Jana Tepe

Anna Kaiser & Jana Tepe

  • Tand­em­ploy was founded in 2013 by Anna Kaiser and Jana Tepe, with the vision of making job-sharing a viable option for a wide range of people. Having started with a plat­form that helps employees to find job-sharing part­ners, they have since made their solu­tion avail­able to compa­nies who are eager to be at the leading edge of the chan­ging work­place. Eager not to place it as simply a women’s option, Tand­em­ploy allows people to share jobs for any number of reasons, whether it’s a classic like raising a family, or tending to your start-up baby. The foun­ders believe that the reality of work is being irrever­sibly altered and that compa­nies that don’t move with the times will be left behind. This isn’t a solu­tion for the future. Change is happe­ning now!

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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 e›ective. 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 oœered matching via a plat­form, but now you also oœer 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.

Anna Kaiser & Jana Tepe

Anna Kaiser & Jana Tepe

  • Tand­em­ploy was founded in 2013 by Anna Kaiser and Jana Tepe, with the vision of making job-sharing a viable option for a wide range of people. Having started with a plat­form that helps employees to find job-sharing part­ners, they have since made their solu­tion avail­able to compa­nies who are eager to be at the leading edge of the chan­ging work­place. Eager not to place it as simply a women’s option, Tand­em­ploy allows people to share jobs for any number of reasons, whether it’s a classic like raising a family, or tending to your start-up baby. The foun­ders believe that the reality of work is being irrever­sibly altered and that compa­nies that don’t move with the times will be left behind. This isn’t a solu­tion for the future. Change is happe­ning now!

Want to get to know Anna Kaiser & Jana Tepe?

Get in touch

Still curious?
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