Job sharing, when (usually) two people share the same position and split the job between them, has been around at least since the 1970s. However, in recent months, with the “encouragement” of the coronavirus and the rapid evaporation of jobs and demand for employees, it’s become a more common, and often a convenient way to secure income yet maintain functionality in other aspects of life such as family and leisure. Among the more prominent employers that incorporate job sharing are some very large ones such as Qualcomm and even the U.S. Federal Government.
To some of the people, in some companies, and for some of the time, this may be a convenient arrangement. However, recently, job sharing has been touted as a solution for the dwindling job opportunities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a solution for mass-employment, I think this is a hopeless idea. I don’t think either employees or employers will be happy with the results of such an experiment, if employed in large numbers, and for a good reason.
The barrier that stands between companies and successful job sharing is human nature. Without developing a whole new attitude to life’s purposes and to other people, our basic instincts of competition and (mainly) envy will destroy any attempt at mass-implementation of job sharing. This kind of arrangement requires people to be able to complement one another, mutually benefit from each other’s strengths and mutually compensate for each other’s weaknesses. I don’t see how people, who are naturally hostile to each other, behind the urbane smiles, can do that without an extensive and profound educational process.
Just as children cannot share, so are adults incapable of it. The only difference is that adults hide it behind phony smiles and fake gestures of friendliness. But put them in a situation where they need to sacrifice something of themselves, even if only their opinion, and you will see right away the value of their “friendliness.”
The coronavirus is forcing us to rethink everything, including our occupation and employment paradigms, and this is great since they have been poisonous to society for over a century. However, in order to build successful paradigms, we first need to comprehend the nature of the change that the pandemic has instigated. Covid-19 isn’t merely a virus that is here today and gone when there is a vaccine. It is the beginning of a new era, a more collaborative one, where people are dependent on each other and must therefore communicate and connect.
Yet, employing connection on such a profound level as job sharing is a bit like the attempt to make all people equal in Communist Russia without educating them about the value of equality and why these values are noble (if you believe them). It made the whole Communist experiment doomed before it even started.
What we need to focus on these days is education, not occupation: education about the world we live in, our interdependency, and mutual responsibility, which exist whether we like them or not. We need to develop solidarity and mutual concern in our communities, and grow from there. Shifts such as job sharing must come naturally, as a result of people’s desire to help one another, and not as something forced by employers, the state, or even circumstances. These reasons will not sustain people’s motivation for long.
Unemployment is a big problem, but governments must resolve it through benefits that it will give to people so they can secure a decent standard of living, benefits that will be contingent on participating in courses or trainings that inform about the interdependency we just mentioned. In this way, people will understand why we need to connect and improve our social relations, and how we can achieve it. When people understand, they cooperate much more keenly and society can remain calm and stable. For this reason, I think that countries and employers that want to help their countries should focus on two things only: provision of necessities and education about interdependency and promotion of social solidarity.