Supporting job sharing/part time working is as good for businesses as it is for people

Women have a pretty tough time when they decide to return to work after having children.

I know it can be dangerous to make sweeping statements like that, but I don’t think it is in any way a revelation! First there is the hard and emotional wrangle that sees women seemingly have to make a choice between career and family; then there is the struggle finding a role that befits their experience, but that gives them the flexibility to balance their desire to be both “professional” and “mother”.

I know that this is not just an issue for women – it is for parents and carers, regardless of gender. But we need to be honest and say that the vast majority of people affected are women. And it is generally women, certainly in the UK and Ireland, that choose to put their professional careers on hold to start families. I see this every day as a husband, father, friend, colleague and manager.

Here’s the problem statement:
As a society we are not doing enough to recognise that there is a sacrifice made, and we certainly are not doing enough to reward and support women returning to work.

Now, I believe that there is a huge opportunity here. An opportunity for us, as a society, to do better; and an opportunity for businesses to attract incredibly experienced and motivated talent.

The numbers tell us that we are having children later, meaning that professional women returning to work have a broader breadth and depth of experience – not to mention the skills one develops rearing children; another thing often overlooked.

In my field of customer experience (user experience, research, usability, design etc.) there are recruitment challenges. There are more roles than experienced people, and there is tough competition attracting the right talent.

Now, I believe that by being overtly open about wanting the role to be filled by a couple of people job sharing/working part time, businesses can attract great talent. All that has to happen is a minor shift in attitude! It is not hard to schedule work around two high performing people – just plan a day when both are in the office. We can be a little bit smarter, think a little more laterally and provide accountabilities that work effectively around a shorter week.
I believe this small shift will mean businesses attract talent that is experienced, motivated, happier (better work—life balance), and has skills beyond their craft.

So, here’s my pitch: I’ve got UX roles and front end developer roles that I would absolutely love to fill with people job sharing. If you are interested, drop me a line! You don’t need to find another person to job share with, that’s my responsibility.

By the way, I’m just assuming that supporting more flexible working hours and arrangements, across the board, is a given – it’s 2015 and technology allows us to communicate faster than we can think!

These views are entirely my own, and in no way reflect the views of my employers past and present. However, these views do inform how I recruit for my teams, which is within my gift, and I am entirely committed to actively recruiting job sharing and part time working. As you can, hopefully, tell, it’s something I believe in and something I’m doing.

Image, via Flickr, courtesy of Martha de Jong-Lantink.

Focus on Needs, not Channels

Focus on Needs, not Channels

Bricks and Mortar companies tend to grow digital/online teams, often markedly, separate from the “main” business. I believe that it is important for online parts of an organisation to think less like pureplay eCommerce teams, focusing on the digital specific journeys, and more like a team that plays an integral part in their customers’ interactions with their brand as a whole.


Customers have needs that transcend channels and organisational design, and we must allow them to easily carry out the activities needed to achieve those needs, and to achieve their goals, in whatever channel and in whatever order they want. This allows a business to operate its channels in concert, and not in competition.


Doing this will enable businesses to better deliver a joined up (or seamless!) experience across channels, time, products etc. It will also enable a business to better react to shifting customer behaviour, like a shift towards online interaction.


We talk a lot about channels, journeys experiences, and seamlessness; but we should be talking more about our customers’ needs. Customers have needs and goals that they are trying to achieve, and a business can best unlock value (and profit) by delivering experiences that help customers achieve their goals, in a way that is simple for them.

Using Experience Maps and Journey Maps

What is the difference between a customer experience map and a customer journey map? And what benefit does each bring in delivering quality and value driving customer experiences.

It’s worth saying, up front, that there is no set way of creating and using experience and journey maps. I am merely putting forward a method that I have used, with success, in the past! I believe it is useful to try and codify methodologies, especially in emerging areas, if for no other reason that to spark debate and discussion, so that improvement may be the result!


Experience Maps versus Journey Maps

Experience Map: What is it?
A representation of a person’s psychological process across the end to end journey of a significant event (e.g. annual holiday, buying a car). It starts from the trigger of the journey to the very end point of the experience.

Experience Map: What does it tell us?
The drivers of customer behaviour. What a person is thinking, doing and feeling; their frustrations; their needs and wants, and the goals that they are trying to achieve.

Experience Map: How can it be used?
To give a truly customer centric view of the service/experience/product that a business provides; but not limited to just the interactions with the service/experience/product – all influencing factors are included.

This allows for the identification of pain points and opportunities, and allows solutions to be crafted for these. These solutions enhance a customer’s experience and drives value into a business (via increased sales, customer satisfaction and loyalty and opportunities to reduce waste and cost).

Journey Map: What is it?
A representation of the ideal interactions that a person has with a product/service/experience, across the end to end journey. What channel and/or platform they interact with and what they are trying to accomplish during that interaction.

It can represent the current, as is, journeys; as well as the ideal, to be, journey. The former is an input into experience mapping (as well as giving a clear steer on where to fix pain points in the current journey), the latter is an actionable artefact.

Journey Map: What does it tell us?
What a customer is trying to achieve at each interaction, what goal they are trying to fulfil and what a business needs to do to help them to achieve this. It also gives a clear understanding of the transition between channels, and provides insight on what a customer needs to best move seamlessly between channels.

Journey Map: How can it be used?
Identify and prioritise requirements/projects; identify KPIs for measuring the efficacy of projects across the customer journey. It can show success factors from a customer point of view, and these can be used as (customer centric) KPIs.

Most importantly it can be used to ensure that the handoff between channels is being facilitated in a seamless and easy way.


Experience Maps are a very customer centric view of a journey. They are somewhat agnostic of where an interaction or activity happens, and are more interested in why a person is doing what they are doing: what goal are they trying to achieve. While abstracted from the what, experience maps force us to concentrate on a person’s core needs: what is it that they really want?

Journey maps are less abstract and show us more how and what a person does. What are they doing and where are they doing it; importantly, what are they doing next and where are they doing it. They can be created on a per persona basis to get a very granular view of customer behaviour by channel.


A poster version of this post is available here: