More family time with job sharing

Nafa marketing and sponsorship manager Jessica Ong has been on a job-sharing arrangement for the last two years so she can spend more time with her daughter, who is now six.
Nafa marketing and sponsorship manager Jessica Ong has been on a job-sharing arrangement for the last two years so she can spend more time with her daughter, who is now six.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Every Monday, instead of heading to her office at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa), Ms Jessica Ong spends an extra day with her six-year-old daughter.

She takes her to school and reads to her during the day, and is also able to fetch her 10-year-old son from school.

Ms Ong, 41, a marketing and sponsorship manager, shares her job load with another colleague.

She had been working full-time with a telecommuting arrangement since 2012, when her daughter was born with a medical condition and needed more attention.

In 2017, she approached her supervisors to see if she could reduce her workload and was pleasantly surprised to find out about the job-sharing option. This allowed her to work three days a week.

"It's been a real blessing. I get to spend more time with my daughter and relieve my elderly parents who look after her while I'm at work," said Ms Ong.

This year, as her daughter is older now, she has started working four days a week. Her pay and benefits are pro-rated accordingly.

Ms Ong said her colleagues accommodate her schedule when planning meetings, while her boss lets her take her day off on a different day if she has to go in to the office on Monday.

 

Although Nafa faculty members occasionally request to reduce their teaching load by half when they want to spend more time on their professional practice, Ms Ong is the first administrative staff member to be on a formal job-sharing arrangement.

Ms Sim Choo Lee, Nafa's head of human resources, said such flexibility helps the organisation retain staff who may otherwise need to choose between family commitments and work.

"Colleagues also value the trust given to them by management, and may want to contribute to the organisation even more. They feel a sense of pride at working for a progressive employer," she said.

For Ms Ong, the arrangement lets her enjoy the best of both worlds. "I can spend time with my children, but I still want to be in the workforce and contribute to society and to the family income," she said. "I hope more companies will embark on this to support their staff."

Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2019, with the headline 'More family time with job sharing'. Print Edition | Subscribe