Work Scheduling

Last edited on 31 Mar 2015
Make it your choice

 “You’re waiting on your job to control your life,” she said, with the scheduling software used by her employer dictating everything from “how much sleep Gavin will get to what groceries I’ll be able to buy this month.”

The article talks about how Ms Navarro has to live by the shifts generated from a lifeless string of characters, manually arranging her personal life based on that schedule. We see the emotional stress and physical wear she has to go through, and her family and relationships in dire states. Surely, there must be a better to schedule work, and not compromising business profitability on the other hand. 

Information Technology has greatly enhanced efficiency in our lives in one way or another. Similarly in work scheduling, the aim of employing IT in businesses is to enhance operation processes and increase profits. Using algorithms to schedule work shifts might address the aim, but it ignores the high human cost born by employees using such a system. With all the complains from the employees on how these systems had negatively affected their lives, major companies like Starbucks and Walmart are moving back towards more regularity in their scheduling system. Instead of giving up and taking the time machine back to how work was scheduled, probably it is just a problem of using technology in a wrong way.

There are two trending views on how IT can be used to improve business processes. The first one is replacing human decision making with artificial intelligence. A program is worked out based on the possible steps that can be taken based on certain premises, and ultimately to solve the customers’ problems. This is used in our everyday lives such as in the ATM and credit card purchasing. Businesses use this technology to gather relevant information by applying a program to scour through the web. Some HR departments similarly use this to schedule work shifts. We see that it definitely has its successes in some areas. It usually involves processing through a huge amount of data, finding trends, before passing on a judgment, just like a human being. This is highly effective for transactional work such as the ATM. Yet as seen in the article, work scheduling is usually highly unpredictable, and different people have different needs. Using such a system might not be the most optimal solution to cater to the needs of the employees.

The second one is using technology in a way to bridge the gap between different groups of people. Companies are placing more and more focus on its human capital, especially considering how they benefit the company in the long run. These solutions often provide a platform for different people to come together, displaying more information over the portal for more transparency between the target groups. This facilitates decision making by the target groups after weighing all the other information at hand. Examples of these include the different talent clouds currently in the market, such as Expert Bids and eLance. Such a system does not take away the decision making power of the people. In fact, it empowers them to make their own decisions. Not only do employees have a more direct connection with the other target group where they meet in a free for all portal, they also have the onus and power of making their own decision. It breaks away the invisible barriers that exist to discourage collaboration and choice, and also builds engagement between the employees and employers.

Now the ultimate question is, which one does work scheduling fall under? We see how artificial intelligence has broken down Starbucks’ scheduling system. Businesses might take the step back and return to how work scheduling was done, manually and cumbersomely planned by the HR department. The second one is what Freeboh offers – an integrated cloud based platform that focuses on shift based hiring. With businesses listing down shifts that require staffing with other relevant information that job seekers are concerned with, it gives interested job seekers a better idea of what to expect, and commit themselves easily and quickly to the empty shifts available after considering their commitments and needs. No algorithms stand in the way in this platform. Employees have the autonomy to choose when they want to work, and employers on the other hand have all the decision making power on their manpower staffing.

Ultimately we have to make the difficult decision on how we should employ IT in our lives. Both definitely have their own merits. Yet one solution clearly stands out to solve a problem that has ever-dynamic needs, and requires flexibility and collaboration between the different agents for it to work well efficiently for a long time to come.  We believe that such a solution can engage people, empower all and enrich lives.

#freeboh #worksforme #makeityourchoice

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