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Intentional scheduling is the best time management style for productivity

The most productive workers get more done with intentional scheduling

Intentional scheduling is the future of time management

The nine-to-five grind might’ve made sense half a century ago. Today, however, millions of people are taking charge of their working hours by finding opportunities that allow a flexible schedule or offers complete autonomy in deciding when to work. A growing number of organizations and business leaders are responding to the “intentional scheduling” mindset in order to attract talent.

What is intentional scheduling?

Intentional scheduling refers to a worker’s ability to set their own hours they work in any given day or week (month, etc.). This goes for when they work as well as how much they work. As companies look for ways to scale workforces to meet the needs of departments—such as customer service/support and sales—looking outside their traditional limits and creating a culture of intentional scheduling can be the answer.

The vast numbers of workers opting for non-traditional work arrangements tell a story.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20 million Americans actively choose part-time work, and an estimated 6 million of these do so in order to pursue a multitude of passions.

In addition to those seeking part-time work, approximately 57.3 million people in the U.S. freelance.

“They’re not working fewer hours because they can’t find a full-time position; rather, they’re engaging in a deliberate, careful work-life balance,” according to a column in Inc.

Stop and see the forest for the trees:

Anyone who has taken Uber or Lyft and heard the stories of drivers knows that these gigs are all about flexibility. Both companies are based on a system where people self-schedule. They only drive when they want.

This dynamic is fundamental not only to the existence of each of these businesses but is also at the root of how each grew rapidly to disrupt a generations-old business model, enjoying success along the way.

A History Lesson: The traditional work week is a byproduct of a bygone era

The phenomenon of Uber, Lyft and other web-based businesses with similar models perhaps wouldn’t be all that lasting or remarkable if it weren’t for the tens of millions of people opting to work outside of the traditional paradigm. They’re done with conforming to a work week that is a relic of the industrial age and has little bearing on much of today’s work environments outside of factories.

A lot has been written about the value of letting people work when they feel they’re most capable of doing their best on the job versus adhering to the rule of coming to work first thing in the morning, taking lunch after four hours and then working at least another four hours before calling it a day.

What better way to do your best than engaging in work when you’re at your most energized, creative, or clear state of mind?

Flex- and self-scheduling aren’t just for gig start-ups

Companies that aren’t oriented to have an all-freelancer workforce like Uber or Lyft can still rethink the strict 40-hour week. Why put those limits on your talent pool?

Opening up your organization for flexible scheduling suddenly invites an immensely broader and deeper pool of talent. This is most pertinent for companies within the “10 most-in-demand occupational areas” as identified by Manpower:

  1. Skilled trades
  2. Drivers
  3. Sales/contact center representatives
  4. Health care professionals
  5. Teachers
  6. Office support
  7. Technicians
  8. Managers/executives
  9. Hospitality staff
  10. Manufacturing.

Some of these vocations already face challenges in retaining employees. Take brick and mortar call centers, for example, where the average ‘lifespan’ of a US call center worker is approximately three years, with turnover rates of 30-40 percent.

“In today’s tight labor market, proper work-life balance practices are essential for employee retention,” says Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of HR for job search site Indeed.

Giving workers space and autonomy leads to better productivity (examples)

Small and large organizations, approach intentional scheduling nimbly. By adding self-directed hours, you are doing one of the top things that make workers happy. On top of that, a schedule based on a worker’s intention may make workers more productive, according to a survey where 77 percent of millennials felt that way. This is most likely because people appreciate the opportunity to work deliberately instead of because they need to show face.

Here’s what “intentional scheduling” looks like in action:

1. Perpetual Guardian

Earlier this year, New Zealand trust management company Perpetual Guardian let its 240 people work four days for a total of 32 hours while continuing to receive their regular salaries.

The firm noted increased productivity and workers reported a 24 percent improvement in work-life-balance. Managers learned another vital lesson: “When hiring new recruits, supervisors should negotiate tasks to be performed—not contractual hours for time spent in the office,” according to an article on Nasdaq.com.

“Otherwise you’re saying, ‘I’m too lazy to figure out what I want from you, so I’m just going to pay you for showing up,’” said Andrew Barnes, company founder. “A contract should be about an agreed level of productivity. If you deliver that in less time, why should I cut your pay?”

2. PWC

This summer, London-based accounting giant, PWC announced its Britain offices, where more than 2,000 people work, will ask people to choose their own working hours under its “flexible talent” initiative.

According to an article in The Times, people apply for a job, stating their skills and availability. They are matched to relevant projects that allow them to work shorter weeks or work for only a few months a year.

In the two weeks following the launch, PWC received job applications from roughly 2,000 people.

The company anticipates the initiative would appeal to “those who cared for children or elderly parents, entrepreneurs who wanted to supplement their income, people who wanted to travel or who did not want to work all year.”

Laura Hinton, chief people officer at PWC, said: “People assume that to work at a big firm they need to follow traditional working patterns. We want to make it clear that this isn’t the case.” She continued, “In order to recruit the best people, we recognise that we need to offer greater flexibility, different working options, and a route back in for those looking to restart their careers.”

But how can service operations count on coverage with self-selected schedules?

If these examples aren’t persuasive enough to convince you that flex scheduling is achievable and may become pertinent for a significant portion of industries, let’s revisit Uber and Lyft.

“A quick look at Uber, the ride-hailing company, tells us that we should perhaps view the age-old tradition of scheduling as optional rather than core,” Dave Michels writes for No Jitter. “Uber manages to maintain an average pickup time of less than five minutes in 412 cities across 55 countries, including most U.S. cities with populations of 25,000 or higher — and it does so without any schedules.”

At Liveops, the flexible scheduling of our virtual call center model poses benefits for independent, home-based agents and our small and large business clients alike. For decades, we’ve helped companies handle a variety of call volumes and fluctuation patterns to reduce wait times while also allowing work-at-home professionals the autonomy of choosing when to work around their lives.

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Melissa Goff

Melissa Goff leads marketing communications at Liveops. With 10 years of experience bringing B2B stories to life, Melissa focuses on taking impactful connections between brands and their advocates and highlighting them front and center.