Job Share Connect sets out to revolutionize the way we think about work

In the last year and a half, so many of us have been reevaluating what we want out of life. Perhaps you want to go back to school, or try a different job, or cut back your hours to spend more time with family. Before the pandemic, though, such a transition would be too challenging…

Photo courtesy Job Share Connect
Photo courtesy Job Share Connect

In the last year and a half, so many of us have been reevaluating what we want out of life. Perhaps you want to go back to school, or try a different job, or cut back your hours to spend more time with family. Before the pandemic, though, such a transition would be too challenging for the status quo. 

It’s 2021, though, and we’re all ready to see a new future for work. That’s where Job Share Connect comes in. 

The new company, founded by Jessica Charlsen and Jina Hwang Picarella, PhD, helps match established professionals looking to change their workload and places them both in the same position to share responsibilities.

Jessica Charlsen knew she was going to struggle to balance work and family as she rose through the ranks of her career, but she wasn’t prepared to live with that status quo. 

“I saw really smart friends opting out, and so, as much as I wanted to make it to the leadership role or wanted to keep growing in my career, I also was looking at it and being like, so then, I miss my family,” she said. “I wanted to actually be a parent. I don’t want to get home at 6:30 every night. I don’t want to have people driving my kids everywhere. I wanted to find a way to have both. And so I was really digging into this issue and trying to figure out solutions.”

Charlsen knew her problem, now she just needed to find the right solution. That came in the form of her business partner, Jina Hwang Picarella.

“We got reconnected, and I was still working full time, she was at home full-time, and we’re like, we’re both not living what we want to be doing right now,” Charlsen said. “What can we do?”

The pair met while serving on the steering committee for the 2016 women in leadership report for the Women’s Fund of Omaha, which yielded results that dismayed them both. 

“It showed decade over decade nothing was changing with women in leadership positions, said Charlsen. “And for me, that was what set me off and that’s what kind of spun me out to say, we keep talking about this, how we need more women in leadership and it’s not changing…So I started spinning out some other different ideas and conversations.”

Charlsen and Hwang Picarella kept meeting up to solve this age-old problem. Solving it would not be easy, but the two clicked instantly enough that they didn’t mind spending so much time on brainstorming. With Charlsen’s marketing and business acumen and Hwang Picarella’s Ph.D in organizational psychology, they knew they could bring whatever solution they came up with to life. 

So Charlsen and Hwang Picarella met and were impressed with each other’s complementary talents and skills. The pair starting meeting up regularly to enjoy some wine and deep conversations. Much of those conversations drifted toward workplace problems that were tricky to solve.

What the pair didn’t realize was that their partnership was their solution. 

Job Share Connect wants to spread the idea of job sharing, and they offer the tools for finding the right partners through software and assessments that determine compatibility, skills, and work styles. Bringing the strengths of two different individuals to one position makes what Job Share Connect calls a “super workforce.”

Charlsen cited five reasons someone would want to quit their job: poor compensation, work-life balance, boredom, going back to school, and the desire to try something new. She said job sharing is also a good solution for established individuals who realize they want to make a change but can’t leave their job right away.

“What you want to do when you were 20 isn’t necessarily the same thing you want to do when you’re 40,” Charlsen said. 

Their ideas are catching on. Since Job Share Connect started they’ve qualified for a number of grants, including funding from the Startup Collaborative’s Future Fellows initiative.

“I always said before COVID, our biggest competition is really the status quo,” said Charlsen. “We’ve been really planting a lot of seeds for the last three years, and it feels like COVID has pushed us ahead in a really big and exciting way.”

Since the transformation in the way people work, spurred on by mass resignations nationwide, companies are turning to new ways to keep their employees engaged.

Charlsen said they have found companies are not just looking to recruit new talent, but to retain existing talent as well.

“(Companies) are looking for new ways of skill and develop and cross-train their talent,” she said. “Job sharing actually works really well for that too. Our platform can meet both needs. It can help you recruit talent into a role, or it can actually help you match people internally within your organization.”

Three years ago, working from home was a luxury reserved for only the most qualified and privileged. Today, it’s the norm in many industries. The future may be a mystery to us, but Job Share Connect may have a hand in the way we work. 

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