A Multi-job Revolution - COMING SOON?
Businesses for many years have been far too rigid. With the exception of Retail, Leisure and Hospitality, many companies simply work Mon-Fri 9 to 5 and don't see another way. Sure, that suits most of us as our society has been built around our typical work week. This has meant that for many, your job is a 40 hour work week. Does it need to be or can employers and employees be more flexible and nimble with task based contracts instead of time based?
Right now, many businesses are conducting the unenviable task of determining which departments or which individuals are deemed 'essential' or 'nice to have' and unfortunately a lot will fall into the latter as businesses make tough decisions for survival. Is there a 3rd option - reduced hours? The initial reaction is that this isn't fair nor worthwhile for the business or the employee but it absolutely can be and it can create an amazing culture and efficiency for both if done right and with the right boundaries.
Many people do have 2 or more jobs and they enjoy the flexibility and variety but typically this is for entry level roles. But in today's world we have the resources that allow people to have the same flexibility in skilled roles benefiting from strong remote working platforms, productivity tools and structured communication.
Let's take a few examples here of how this can be achieved and managed:
1. Jen is a Financial Controller for a Multi-National Furniture Manufacturer based in Birmingham. She is based in their Head Office on the outskirts of Birmingham and leads a team of 3 Accounts. The business operates in 4 Countries. Jen is contracted to work 40 hours per week and typically does that but being in Finance she has the typical periods where she is required longer hours. On average she works 43 hours per week.
In 2020, the company is conducting a redundancy exercise. During the process, the option of reducing her average hours was raised and she agreed to continue in the same role on an agreed 20 hours per week with her salary reduced by half and any benefits were retained. The contracted 20 hours were clearly defined and included a combination of remote work and 'in-office' work. It was agreed that Jen could work in a similar function for another business, however, due to the nature of Jen's work in that she has access to confidential accounts it was agreed that she could not work for a direct competitors of which a list is composed and updated annually to account for new competitors.
The Outcome - Jen is able to carry out 2 roles for 2 different businesses in the region. She has a balance between remote work and office-based work which benefits her lifestyle and there is a more defined work schedule that all parties respect. The business benefits from Jen's knowledge, qualifications and experience whilst reducing their payroll and being forced to be more efficient on her tasks. Jen retains a strong work-life balance and continues in her career in a role that still allows her to retain her skills and experience.
2. Tony is the COO of a Hotel Group based in Reading, he has been with the business 20 years and seen it grow from 2 properties to 15. He is based at their Head Office but typically spends 2 days per week on site visits with the General Managers and Teams. The business only operates in UK. Tony is contracted to work 40 hours per week as a Head Office employee although being a Hospitality business he has the requirement to be on hand as the business requires. Including Travel, Tony typically works an average of 50 hours per week.
In 2020 the company is conducting a redundancy exercise. Although Tony has wealth of knowledge of both the hospitality industry and the business it was deemed that his role was 'nice to have' and that the General Managers could share Tony's responsibilities and operate without the support structure. In conversation, Tony offered to retain the COO role but to work an agreed 2 days per week plus an agreed number of Key Meetings that he would be required for in advance. 1 Day was for Site Visits and 1 Day was in the Head Office, both days were planned in advance so that key personnel were prepared and organised to conduct meetings with Tony. It was agreed that Tony could work in a similar capacity for a business that was not on an agreed direct competitor list which was updated annually.
The Outcome - Tony continued in the role of COO and his wealth of knowledge was vital in riding through a challenging period. His 2 days per week were so well structured that he and other departments were more efficient than ever before and the culture improved. Tony spent time mentoring key people in the business to be on hand to support and make decisions in his absence. Tony took a role as a Non-Executive Director and Consultant for a start-up Restaurant business which offered his vast experience to them on a similar 2 day work week. Tony was able to be far more structured and use his experience to benefit both businesses. He was able to retain 2 strong salaries and improve his overall job satisfaction.
3. Ally is an experienced Graphic Designer with 12 years experience working with several of Dublins best Marketing Agencies. He loves doing what he does and takes pride in the quality of work with big brands. His priority has been to enjoy what he does above any career progression. Ally has always worked standard office hours - Monday to Friday 9-5 and although on some projects there has been a rush to get work completed he rarely does any work outside of the office hours.
In 2020 the company is conducting a redundancy exercise and due to a reduction of new projects the Design Team have all been put at risk. Ally was offered the option of reducing his contracted hours to 20 hours per week, with all work carried out remotely. The business offered Ally the opportunity to be sub contracted for additional work on a project by project basis based on an agreed day rate.
The Outcome - Ally fulfilled the 20 hours per week continuously on permanent jobs and was given a monthly task list in advance so he could manage easily the work agreed in the 20 hours per week and then agreed on any overage as a day rate. This allowed the business to better forecast and flex their design costs as necessary. Ally was able to set up a free-lance design business that he was able to focus on. The Agency made significant cost savings in their design team yet retained the same level of quality.
Businesses do need to think differently, just because something has been the same way for many years it doesn't mean that it's right. There is an opportunity to retain the skill and experience of key people on reduced hours and IF this becomes a culture then we can start to see part-time key roles become more available.
With Co-Working spaces and remote work being more frequently utilised there is definitely an opportunity for Multi-Job professionals to maximise their skills and experience for multiple businesses, allowing some businesses to be more efficient with their labour and organisation.
This won't work for all businesses or roles but it certainly can for others. It needs a coordinated effort and for many businesses to be more open minded and open up roles that are flexible and task based not time based.
Think different and be positively disruptive.