True Flexibility Means Working “Right Time”
It’s not “Part-Time,” it’s “Right-Time”
For those of us who work the traditional 8 to 5, it can be shocking to take a step back and realize how much our daily schedule influences every other facet of our life. This rigid grind influences when we eat, when we sleep, when our kids go to school, how long we sit in traffic during rush hour, etc.
Dolly Parton said it best: “9 to 5, they got you where they want you. There’s a better life and you think about it, don’t you?”
Not to put words in her mouth, but Dolly most likely wasn’t imagining a future in which virtual agents determined their own work schedules from the comfort of their homes. Still, her lyrics continue to resonate with us. Over 40 years later, new tools and technologies are empowering workers of certain industries to take their work schedule into their own hands and ditch the 9 to 5 (or 8 to 5) grind for good. Some labor experts even believe that this routine is already a thing of the past.
But which model of scheduling works best for the workers that don’t fit the traditional model? Is it better to have a set daily schedule? Or is ‘structure’ just another word for ‘constraint’ for some? And how does this impact their productivity?
What the Data Tells Us
Within their eBook Redesigning Work for a Hybrid Future, technology research and consulting firm Gartner dispels the myth that employees are less productive when working remotely. Rather than responding to a monitoring system from a central work location, Gartner finds that it’s radical flexibility that drives high employee performance.
In this study, radical flexibility is defined as the ability of the employee to not just determine where and when they work, but also how much work they accomplish per day. From a survey of 5,000 employees worldwide, Gartner discovered a 40% increase in high performance from workers who utilize the radical flexibility model.
According to Forrester Consulting’s research paper, Build An Anywhere Work Strategy to Drive Business Success, 93% of high-satisfaction employees polled believe that their organization’s remote/flexible work policies have improved their ability to provide a good customer experience. Of the same group surveyed, 86% believe that flexible hours have increased their productivity, and 78% feel prouder to work for their current employer after transitioning to a remote setup.
Liveops: A Case Study in Flexibility/ “Right Time”
At Liveops, we call this schedule “right time.” Agents work around their lives, committing in 30-minute blocks around the demands of their everyday lives. Whether they are caring for a family member or child at home, or they are passionate about making time for their hobbies. Liveops Agents have the autonomy to structure their work around their life to meet their personal needs.
The 8 to 5 structure tends to limit our ability to make appointments, stay active, and spend quality time with our loved ones. Especially when we factor in long commute times, and the sobering fact that 48% of US workers tend to stay at the office longer than expected.
“Right time” scheduling allows Agents to take breaks or end their workday on their terms, giving them availability to pick up the kids from school, go to the gym, run errands, or make dinner.
The Future of the 40-Hour Work Week
Across the country, workers are rising up and demanding more recognition from their employers. Many of these widespread labor strikes are in response to unsafe work conditions, stagnant wages, and inflexible work hours.
In response, many full-time workers have transitioned to working part-time or freelance, eschewing the benefits of full-time employment for greater control over their schedules. The 2020 Freelance Forward Survey from Upwork shows 30% of new freelancers in 2020 left a job with an employer. Given the taste of flexibility, 89% of those surveyed said they’ll remain contingent workers because working remotely has made them a more productive worker. Further, 60% of flexible workers said there is no amount of money that would lure them back to a traditional work environment.
But what about part-time work? Some businesses are trialing part-time schedules to accommodate the varying needs of work-life balance for their workforce. This strategy can be a welcome opportunity for people who are looking to work fewer hours, but still desire a set schedule.
As per a survey conducted by the International Workplace Group, 80% of all global workers stated they would turn down a job offer that did not offer flexible scheduling in favor of one which did. Additionally, 85% of workers believe they are more productive when given greater flexibility in their schedules.
The part-time or right-time lifestyle isn’t tenable for everyone, but the schedules which our agents have carved out for themselves may offer a template on how in certain circumstances, work-life balance is easier to achieve than many have been led to believe. And that happiness doesn’t need to be sacrificed for productivity. And isn’t that what Dolly was trying to tell us all along?