The flexible workforce in the knowledge economy: a case study examining the perceptions of call centre staff and influence of flexible work practices to job satisfaction in a multi-national call centre operating in Australia
This paper explores the nature of workplace flexibility in an Australian Call Centre by comparing flexible practices to employee’s perceptions and job satisifaction on these criteria. A literature review compares and critiques the major typologies of flexibility including: The Flexible firm model of Atkinson (1984), the flexible specialisation thesis, Piore and Sabel, (1984) and adopts a revised version of Reilly’s Flexible Workplace framework (2001) in order to identify and extrapolate similarities or differences from the sample to the literature. Some significant findings from the study identifies the heavy reliance of one type of flexibility over the others, the use of numerical flexibility to meet operational efficiency requirements and seasonal demands by varying the number of workers on shifts and to a lesser extent, temporal flexibility the variability of working hours. Other forms of flexibility such as functional, locational and financial flexibility were expected by call centre staff, but only offered to management within the organisation. The management challenge is to align employee expectations to actual benefits and the strategy of the organisation.
Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations, Penang, Malaysia, 11-14 August 2003