The New York Time's article A Part-Time Life, as Hours Shrink and Shift covers employment changes in the part-time intensive retail industry.
The article touches on the growing use of scheduling software to optimize the number of employees on site based on anticipated retail traffic. Basically, these systems allow companies to use "just in time" methods to schedule employees, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.
But as the article points out, a side effect is fewer hours for workers and more varied schedules.
There's been a lot of discussion about technology and automation replacing jobs. But there's been much less coverage of how technology is changing where, how, when and how often people are working.
Technology is making it much easier to find, hire and manage workers on a part-time and/or temporary basis. This a key driver behind the growth of the independent workforce.
There are several really good quotes on some of the side effects of this shift. My favorite is about the advantages of using part-timers who want and/or need more hours than they are getting:
Mr. Flickinger, the retail consultant, said companies benefited from using many part-timers. “It’s almost like sharecropping — if you have a lot of farmers with small plots of land, they work very hard to produce in that limited amount of land,” he said. “Many part-time workers feel a real competition to work hard during their limited hours because they want to impress managers to give them more hours.”
Note to Mr. Flickinger, saying something is good because it's like sharecropping rarely works from a PR perspective.
There's also an excellent quote on how companies are shifting some of their business risks to their employees:
“We’re seeing more and more that the burden of market fluctuations is being shifted onto the workers, as opposed to the companies absorbing it themselves ..."
This is yet another example of the broader trend of risk management shifting from institutions to individuals. This is a very important trend that doesn't get enough attention. We cover it in more detail in the Intuit 2020 report.
If it seems like the work world is getting more Darwinian, it's because it is.