New study suggests more roles should be offered as part-time. But how practical is that?

The increased acceptance of working from home over the past few years has led to more changes in the workplace than merely allowing people to work remotely. It has encouraged the adoption of more flexible working hours and part-time jobs.

In many cases, these jobs would not be possible if they required a commute and then a short shift inside an office. If a part-time employee wanted to work for just three hours each morning then it’s potentially feasible if they work from home, but if there is a one-hour commute either side of that shift then suddenly it is not as attractive.

This move to increased flexibility can work well for both the employer and employee. In customer service operations there is rarely the same continuous demand for agents all day long, and rarely just on weekdays. That can work well for agents, especially as people often prefer to work at specific times – such as earlier in the morning, in the evening, or at the weekend.

Increasingly smart workforce management (WFM) systems are matching up when people would prefer to work with the times they are needed most. And this is creating greater flexibility because it means the number of staff covering calls can be reduced in quiet periods and increased during busy periods.

There are practical challenges for companies offering this level of flexibility though.

At Sensée our WFM system can manage shift allocations in blocks down to thirty minutes. This means that a team member can select to work a few hours, take a few hours off for some responsibilities at home, and then do a few more hours early in the evening.

Companies that offer this level of flexibility find that it attracts highly-skilled people as well as help retain colleagues who can see that not every employer is as flexible. This creates an improved employee experience that translates into employees that are more enthused about their job and therefore deliver a better customer experience.

It’s really the opposite of people who feel they have very little control over their working location, hours, and tasks. Give people more control and they will naturally respond positively.

However, there are still lingering concerns over how practical employing lots of part time workers actually is. For example, about whether working part-time or flexible hours allows for career progression.

A recent study published in Management Today emphasised this point. It found that 46% of people believe that a part-time position limits their career prospects and this is even higher for people in managerial or professional occupations (53%).

Yet the authors of this study conclude that all companies should be offering the ability for almost any role to be offered as part-time because this drives greater inclusivity – arguing that many people who cannot manage 40+ hours a week can take on roles if part-time options are available. And with the added bonus in today’s difficult recruitment marketplace that employers advertising part-time basis are often deluged with enquiries!

While the employer may need to make significant changes to accommodate this greater flexibility, the upside is that employees are likely to be happier in their job and more productive – as a detailed study by Oxford University found.

Part-time and flexible working is likely to become far more normal in future as hybrid working becomes ever more popular. In many cases, this flexibility would be impossible without the option to work from home. And the fears about career advancement are likely to be reduced over time. Indeed the Management Today research acknowledges that 50% of people believe that part-time workers are just as ambitious as full-time.

Part-time and flexible working hours are the future for many industries – including customer service. Take a look here to learn about our current flexible opportunities.

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