The pandemic has called into question traditional thinking on workforce management. Here is a case for why that may be a good thing for both employees and businesses. In short, flexible scheduling may help meet the needs of surging customer demand and fill small shifts at odd hours.

by Michele Rowan
Date Published April 14, 2021 - Last Updated July 26, 2021

Most organizations have used the process of shift bidding for decades. With the pandemic, however, times have changed, and perhaps it’s time to trade in shift bidding thinking for a fresher approach to scheduling that is more representative of the world in which we now live. 

I would advocate for adopting flexible scheduling, which allows employees the opportunity to chart more of a schedule that works for them, while also providing your business the opportunity to fill tough-to-fill shifts. Ideally, you can better the lives of your employees, while shoring up your staffing efficiencies!

Here’s my argument as to why:

  • From now until at least Q4, employees are going to continue to require a lot of flexibility to manage their makeshift work and personal lives. As we know, this requires special adjustments. Opening up some flexible shifts that are built every two weeks or once a month gives people tremendous opportunities to move their work schedules around to align with their in-flux personal life and/or family demands. Formalizing this process eliminates the guilt of having to ask supervisors to make continued exceptions and adjustments.
  • Many people have grown accustomed to being more involved in the day-to-day lives of their families, and they would like to maintain that work-life balance. Because of this, a significant portion of the workforce are interested in continuing to work from home full-time or part-time for the foreseeable future.
  • Varying shifts may be just as beneficial for your company. You can split shifts, compress work weeks, get some weekend hours filled, get very small time blocks filled, and get evening hours filled just when you need them most. In an office environment, no one was interested in coming to work, leaving, and then coming back. That's all changed now.
  • Scheduling people in smaller blocks that are much more closely aligned to the arrival patterns of your voice and non-voice work could save your company significant labor costs. You can make short shifts available when your customer demand spikes, and remove labor hours when customer demand enters slow periods. Now that so many people are home-based, there is new interest in working this way.

To best explore these options, first ask your workforce. Advise them that you are considering opening up to flexible scheduling. Ask people what day parts they would be interested in working, if split shifts/microshifts are appealing, and if weekends or other times would work for them. Then, try out scheduling schemes and make adjustments along the way.

9 to 5 may be a thing of the past for some or the majority of your workforce, but that may allow you the ability to better meet customer demand in a world where few people also are operating 9 to 5.

Michele Rowan is President of Customer Contact Strategies and former Vice President of Performance Management for Hilton International, where she led the strategy and implementation for the company’s Remote Working Program both in Europe and the United States. Through workshops, web trainings and customized consulting, Michele has worked with 1500+ companies in financial, healthcare, travel, retail, entertainment, telecom /tech support, BPO, and non-for-profit sectors. Her unique focus is helping companies implement and continuously improve their remote working programs for contact centers, support functions and enterprise employees.

Tag(s): supportworld, business of support, employee satisfaction, employee engagement


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