From April to September this year almost 20 million Americans quit their job and moved on to something else. Often they didn’t have a job to immediately move to, they were just tired of staying in their existing job.
This Great Resignation is being repeated across the world and is partly a result of people staying in jobs through the pandemic, when they were already thinking of moving. Now many regions are getting back to some normality, they felt it was time to make the move.
However, as analysts such as McKinsey have noted, there is another important factor – people are demanding more flexibility from their job.
A recent McKinsey paper on this subject talks about what post-pandemic employees are seeking: “They want a renewed and revised sense of purpose in their work. They want social and interpersonal connections with their colleagues and managers.
“They want to feel a sense of shared identity. Yes, they want pay, benefits, and perks, but more than that they want to feel valued by their organizations and managers. They want meaningful – though not necessarily in-person – Interactions, not just transactions.”
Unless you are extremely lucky, you need to go to work to pay your bills. This is the reason that many people stick with jobs they don’t enjoy, but something is happening here – people are really demanding that their employers start offering more flexible relationships, rather than the very transactional nature of repetitive work – the same time, the same place, every single day.
Recent research into the gig economy really shone a light on this desire for more flexibility. Gig workers are about as flexible as it comes. They usually use a platform that gives them the work and they can log in and out when they choose.
The Harvard research examined over 400,000 food delivery riders working for the Doordash app in California – typically they are collecting food from restaurants and delivering it to the home. The researchers asked about the value of flexibility and what the effect would be if the app were more like a traditional employer and demanded they check in and out and certain times – like a normal working day.
The riders suggested that this would be like a 17% drop in pay – so the value of being flexible is approximately the pay received for one day of work per week. That’s a large percentage attributed to flexibility.
In the customer service environment many commentators have suggested that working from home offers flexibility.
Although Sensee has always been focused on allowing its employees to work from home, most others in the industry used office-based centres until the pandemic started. Now they are facing a dilemma – bring everyone back into the office or continue to allow them to work from home?
The real point here is that it is not just working from home that creates a flexible work environment. Working from home has the potential to be a more flexible working model because it removes the requirement for commuting and it may allow many more people to participate in the workforce – people who would find it difficult to commute to an office and work a long shift.
Employees working from home do not automatically have flexibility just by being away from the office. Employers need to change their approach to management and communication and build tools that allow employees to engage with colleagues, socialise, self-select their work hours, and be measured based on their input to the team. Presenteeism doesn’t work in this environment.
A work-from-home customer service team has the possibility to be far more flexible than one based in a contact centre, but it requires thought and planning. Flexibility isn’t automatic – even at home.