Why ‘Workplace’ and ‘Workforce’ Transformation Go Hand-in-Hand

In our last article we explored how the workplace has evolved to embrace a new digital form, allowing teams to work together, even when individual team members are working remotely.

This type of digital workplace platform is no longer a nice-to-have, it is essential. And especially now that office and hybrid team members are demanding similar workday flexibility to that being offered to their WFH colleagues!

Lockdown was undoubtedly the main catalyst in this workplace revolution. When the pandemic arrived, many companies asked their office-based employees to work from home – and with the same, or very similar, shift patterns. If they worked Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, then the new routine was to work the same shift from their desk at home.

It very quickly became clear that more flexibility was possible. The long continuous shift is essential when an employee has to commute to a workplace. They can’t work three short shifts in a day when each shift requires two journeys. However, if they are working from home then very flexible hours are possible.

It’s important to note that this possibility creates opportunity for both the employee and the employer. Companies want to schedule their employees for the times when they will be needed. In customer service teams this can be planned and predicted based on past experience of customer contact and some prediction around events such as the launch of new products/services and the seasonality of sales.

Employees that are working from home know that they can still deliver the time their employer needs on the clock, but if they are at home then it should be possible to work split shifts rather than a single continuous one. In other words, an employee with caring responsibilities for an elderly relative, or children, should be able to manage their responsibilities at home and fit their work time around those commitments.

With the traditional commute and all-day shift this was rarely possible. Either you commit to be away from home all day or you can’t take the job. Now it is possible for an employee to take a job and schedule their working hours to reflect the time they need to be free.

For example, they might want to put in an early two hours starting at 6am followed by a couple of hours free followed by another two hours work then a break before a longer shift in the afternoon. Or it might be that the employee always needs to be free from 3pm to 5pm so they can collect their kids from school, but once they are home and fed they can then work for an additional couple of hours.

It is not just the workplace that has evolved to embrace this flexibility, it is the workforce. The ability to work flexibly from home has created employment opportunities for many groups of people that were previously marginalised by their inability to commit to an entire day working in an office.

The recently-retired looking for some extra income from flexible work, parents with young children, adults caring for other adult family members, people with health conditions or impairments that make it difficult to commute and spend all day at a desk. All these people have been excluded from the 9-5 office workforce, but the workplace transformation is enabling a workforce transformation.

The Sensée resource management system allows our clients to schedule according to when they need more people and when they expect fewer customer interactions. Frontline advisers can then self-select their preferred work shifts based on what is available on the scheduling system. This allows us to change how many team members are working for a client down to each 30-min block of time.

It means that the client does not have a large number of idle people working during quiet periods, but importantly it hands more control of the precise shifts worked to the employee.

It’s not just the excluded workforce that wants more flexibility. The business media often covers the increasing demands for flexible work from Gen Z. Although many older generations suggest Gen Z wants to work fewer hours, their real expectation is flexibility – they don’t want to be chained to a desk for eight hours.

The evolution of the workplace to be physical, virtual, or both, has enabled this opportunity to access an entirely new workforce – and to embrace the flexible demands of those just entering the workforce.

This flexibility is creating smart solutions for companies that want flexible customer service cover, but it also meets the needs of the agents too. It is a genuine win-win that moves the workforce away from the commute and long shifts to an environment where they are truly valued for their expertise.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *