Can Retail, Call Center and Housekeeping Staff Have Work-Life Flexibility?

(This post originally appeared in

Over the past five years, new research shows that we’re all much more comfortable with the concept of work+life flexibility.  We no longer expect lawyers, managers or web designers to always show up to an office, 9-to-5, Monday through Friday.  But what about retail sales associates, call center workers, or housekeeping staff in hotels?

Can low-wage hourly workers access the same work flexibility to manage their lives both on and off the job?

According to two recent reports, the answer is “yes, but…” The authors of Flexible Workplace Solutions for Low-Wage Hourly Workers: A Framework for a National Conversation, Liz Watson, Legislative Counsel, Workplace Flexibility 2010 and Jennifer E. Swanberg Ph.D. Associate Professor, University of Kentucky and Executive Director, Institute for Workplace Innovation, and of Improving Work-Life Fit in Hourly Jobs: An Underutilized Cost-Cutting Strategy in a Globalized World, Work Life Law, UC Hastings College of the Law say:

Yes, low-wage hourly workers can flexibly manage their work+life fit and businesses will realize tangible bottom line benefits.  But it requires:

Understanding that the work+life fit issues and, therefore, the solutions for low-wage hourly workers are more complex. Some low wage workers need more flexibility in their jobs, some need less, and some just need more work in order to find a better fit. Flexible Workplace Solutions for Low-Wage Hourly Workers has a great chart that clearly lays out the too much flexibility/not enough flexibility challenge of low-wage workers:  (Click here for more)