Meet the Team
June 6, 2023

Maya & Nicole – Job Sharing With Management Responsibility

In this people story we talk to Maya and Nicole, who jointly lead the polymer chemistry lab for performance foams in Darmstadt, about common biases against job sharing.

Job sharing is inefficient! 

Maya: People often assume that you always have to coordinate everything, so you lose a lot of efficiency. Our response: No! We do have to coordinate, but that time is well invested for reflection. Our main responsibilities are clearly defined by topic area, but if one of us is away, the other one is available to make important decisions. Our combined expertise also allows us to contribute different ideas. Together we are faster because we can consider issues from different perspectives and we are equally responsible. We are both interested in finding a solution quickly, in advancing the topic areas and projects – each of us can always stand in for the other! 

Nicole: In some cases, we also make better decisions. We always see issues through the other person’s eyes too, because we know we will have to discuss some of the aspects again later. We both know where the focus is, and we contribute our expertise in both process engineering and chemistry. 

In job sharing, you have to share a desk! 

Nicole: The Evonik concept Smart Work makes virtual and hybrid work more flexible, and so this criticism is totally irrelevant. Maya and I always have the camera on during our meetings, and we use the entire bandwidth of digital media for our communications. And of course the pandemic helped make digital collaboration much more efficient. 

Maya: I completely agree with Nicole! We share an office on site, but we each have our own desk. We do believe it’s important to meet regularly in person. But we don’t have to be in the office together every day. On the contrary, job sharing offers a lot of flexibility, and we have all the tools we need to do our day-to-day work and to communicate with each other! 

Job sharing is a lot of work – especially for your colleagues! 

Maya: Just the opposite! Our colleagues appreciate the fact that they can always reach one of us about any issue. A colleague once told me, “Now we have four ears to hear us.” 

Nicole: We have consistently gotten positive feedback from our team! Now our colleagues know which issues to bring to which one of us. For important issues, we set up three-person chats in Microsoft Teams Chats so the other person can always follow along or make edits. 

Job sharing is bad for your career! 

Nicole: Unfortunately, that’s still a very common preconception. At first, even I thought I should do a tandem job because I wanted to take a step back professionally. But now I see how combining different competences can help us achieve even more, and I see it as an opportunity for an even better career. Job sharing is a great way to further develop your own technical and social competences.  

Maya: I see it the same way! Unfortunately, our work systems are still largely designed for a single person. So it’s not possible to share the responsibility 100%. Performance reviews and development opportunities are still set up for one person, not for a tandem. Even if the main topic areas are clearly divided up, we both contributed to the final result. People have different reasons for reducing their working hours. But that doesn’t mean you are any less committed. Many people still don’t realize that job sharing assigns responsibility to two people who can lead like a single person, but at the same time it essentially doubles the area of competence. We are working to change this perception, so people can see job sharing as more of a career booster. 

Job sharing is not for everyone! 

Maya: It’s true, not everyone is cut out for the job-sharing model, but during  Evonik´s Pairfect program there are diverse tools to use, e.g. the Tandembility Test®. If you opt for job sharing, you also must be able to take a step back and give up some control. Mutual trust and good communication are also essential. 

Nicole: You must make compromises and coordinate with each other. But there are also situations where you must make decisions for the other person or share responsibility for decisions. You need to be open and willing to do that and have team spirit. 

Learn more about Maya and Nicole’s career paths!

Maya and Nicole are part of the concept “Pairfect”, that stands for jobsharing at Evonik since 2018. The PAIRfect initiative connects people and opportunities by bringing together colleagues who are interested in a new form of cooperation. Through the PAIRfect community, employees can find potential job sharing partners or exchange ideas with other interested parties and tandems.

Nicole: I started by training as a chemistry laboratory assistant at a large consumer goods company in Hamburg and then quickly decided to earn a degree, too. The Biomedical Chemistry major in Mainz covered all of my interests. During my doctorate I specialized in biopolymers, and in 2015 I joined Evonik in Darmstadt as an Information Specialist for patent research. To build on my experience in the area of patents, I also earned a patent engineer qualification from FH Beuth in 2016 while I continued to work. In 2019 I switched to the Patent department at Evonik, where I worked for 2 years as an IP Manager and was responsible for the area of Active Oxygens in Hanau. Now I am happy to be doing the job tandem with Maya. 

Maya: My background is in chemical engineering, and I did my Master’s thesis at Evonik in 2005. After finishing my Master’s, I joined the Process Engineering department at the Hanau site. In April 2011 I moved to Singapore to work in the Regional Business Development area – an exciting experience that I found very enriching. After I came back from my second parental leave, I went back to my main area of process engineering, but it was time for another change and for further development. Through my network, I heard about the shared Lab Manager position in a polymer chemistry lab. I started #jobsharing in June 2018, and Nicole became my new tandem partner in 2021.