© 2024 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'Job-Sharing' In Germany


All right. So Uber showed us that we can share cars. Airbnb did the same for homes. A startup in Berlin is taking it a step further. It wants to make job sharing a thing. NPR's Casey Herman shares the story.

CASEY HERMAN, BYLINE: The offices of the Berlin startup Tandemploy are comfortable and hip.

JANA TEPE: Yeah, welcome to our office.

HERMAN: There's high ceilings, wood floors.

TEPE: Here, you see our meeting room.

HERMAN: There's space for the company's 25 or so employees. Co-founder Jana Tepe is our tour guide.

TEPE: This is maybe the center of our office (laughter).

HERMAN: Is the coffee machine.

TEPE: The coffee machine. You always have to have good coffee, so it's important to make people happy.

HERMAN: Tandemploy launched about four years ago, and it all started when Tepe was working as a recruiter, and she got a job application from two women applying to share one full-time position. She found the idea of job sharing really exciting.

TEPE: I just had to tell somebody. I had to share this idea. And I ran into Anna, who was my colleague back then. So we both started to do research in the evening and found out that job sharing, the concept, is not new at all. But it's not used strategically by companies out there. So we quit our jobs two days later to found a company to help people make job sharing happen.

HERMAN: The two co-founders saw that a big barrier to job sharing was finding well-matched partners. So they decided to solve the problem with a website.

TEPE: On the platform, people can register, fill in a short profile questionnaire of 22 questions, and based on that, they get automatically matched with their perfect partners.

HERMAN: It sounds a lot like something else that a lot of people I think are familiar with from the Internet age.

TEPE: You mean online dating (laughter). Of course, there are some similarities to online dating, but I always say that it's not that hard to find the perfect job sharing partner as finding the love of your life, of course.

HERMAN: Now, another big challenge is convincing German companies that job sharing can work, and many are skeptical.

TOBIAS HUBER: My name is Tobias Huber. I am head of HR here at DEVnet. DEVnet is a consultancy. It's a IT consultancy in Germany.

HERMAN: And Tobias says especially for mid-sized companies like DEVnet, recruitment is already expensive and difficult, and job sharing makes it just more complicated.

HUBER: We spend a lot of money to find the right people for a specific job, and if we have two people for one goal, two is more intensive in terms of time and everything. This would make it more complex, and in my opinion, it's harder for middle-sized company to get into this whole job sharing situation.

HERMAN: But back a Tandemploy, Jana Tepe says the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

TEPE: All employers, they are looking for, like, the perfect hirings for their positions. They are looking for people who speak five languages, who are creative plus very analytical, and this is insane. Nobody can do or offer that in one person, but two people, they can speak five languages in total. One can be really analytic. One can be really creative.

HERMAN: And she says, with job sharing, sickness and vacation isn't as much of a problem because a perfect fill-in is often available. According to Tandemploy, about 8,000 job seekers have profiles on their website.

TEPE: For people and for companies, there just has to come a change and we have to start it right now because we always talk about the future of work and it sounds, like, really, really far away, but we can really shape that.

HERMAN: So far, the startup has around 70 companies signed up, and the firm recently received a $3.5 million investment that Tepe says will help Tandemploy expand and reach some of Germany's biggest companies. For NPR News, I'm Casey Herman in Berlin.

(SOUNDBITE OF GLEN PORTER'S "TRANSIENT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Casey Herman