Top Sharing: A Solution to Work-life Balance for Executives

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

Have you ever wondered if you can job share when your aspirations include the c-suite or CEO? If so, you’ll be delighted to learn you can! Job sharing works in many different roles, industries, and levels of one’s career — even CEO.

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In fact, job sharing works particularly well in demanding senior roles (aka top sharing). Two minds in one role (and honestly two humans) is a company game-changer to split the hours, workload, and travel required of CEOs. Companies can attract women caregivers who opt out of these positions despite talent, experience, or career aspirations.

One of the pandemic’s silver linings is a forced rethinking of how organizations can create a more human-centric workforce to stave off burnout and retain talent. Some are turning to job sharing as a COVID-19 workplace solution.

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Co-CEO Sarina Loo shares how innovative organizations can embrace and benefit from job sharing at the top level.


Written by Sarina Loo, Co-Chief Executive Officer at Victorian Environmental Water Holder

As a young female CEO, I am often asked how to have a successful career and satisfying family life. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy but “top sharing” (job sharing an executive role) is the best solution that I’ve found. It enables me to work part-time, three days a week, and spend my other four days taking care of my children and recharging. And it’s the best working arrangement I have ever had.

embrace a dual leadership mindset

With an increase in flexible work arrangements, job sharing is starting to become more common. It is often performed for project work, and not generally done at managerial or executive levels. However, there can be real benefits to both individuals and the organizations they work for to adopt top sharing and embrace a dual leadership mindset.

set the tone from the top

For companies who are serious about increasing employee flexibility, setting the tone from the top by role modeling executive job sharing, can be very valuable. It demonstrates a commitment to a mentally healthy workplace and contributes to collaborative, constructive cultures.

I find that by having four days off a week, I am able to properly recuperate and switch off, knowing there is someone else holding down the fort and trusting them in that. That means I am more energetic and productive on the days I am working. I give it my all the three days I do work. There is no ‘Wednesday hump’ day and no ‘Friday fades’.

collective problem-solving to yield results

While the arrangement benefits individuals, there are many organizational benefits too. It’s well known that collective problem solving and decision-making is stronger than by an individual. By having dual leadership, the top share arrangement means that the high-level, strategic approaches have the benefit of two minds working on them. My top share partner and I deliberately and regularly set aside time together to work through strategic matters, hence, the rigor of decision-making is improved as we both contribute perspectives based on our individual skills and experience. We are bouncing ideas off each other all the time and importantly, learning from each other.

collaborative team culture

A top share can also result in a collaborative executive team culture. I have found that talking through ideas with my partner in front of the senior managers leads to open debate and discussion rather than a ‘captain’s call’ culture. The executive team becomes less hierarchical and more of a collective group.

increase productivity with built-in continuity

A top share can also lead to productivity increases. Each Executive is very focused and energized during their limited time and conscious of not leaving things undone for their counterpart. They hold each other to account, help to drive each other’s performance, and are conscious of representing each other. Additionally, when one person in the executive partnership is on annual leave or on a training course, the other is still providing continuity and guidance to the team.

modern life solution regardless of gender or parental status

Job sharing is not just for women returning from parental leave. A lot of people want to work flexibly to fit in with modern life. Carer responsibilities are just one reason to job share. There are many motivations to want to work part-time, for example, study, volunteer work, or pursuing hobbies and investments. The well-being benefits are clear.

For those Executives who are passionate about the collaborative delivery of outcomes and who want a better work-life balance, a top share is perfect.

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