Some of the finest things in life are achieved by carefully blending components to accomplish a whole greater than the sum of their parts. The best French vintners expertly blend varieties of grape to create the world’s best wines; perfumiers use their refined sense of smell to blend different aromas into the most sought after colognes and eau de toilettes; Michelin-starred chefs make their names blending flavours, textures and colours from a rich variety of food to create award-winning dishes people travel from miles around to taste. So if blending can achieve such great things in these walks of life, why should it not when it comes to the management of people?
The concept of workforce blending is based on the idea that organising staff into closed, linear job roles with discrete and separate responsibilities is inefficient. In particular, the argument in favour of workforce blending is that the traditional distinction between front and back office operations is arbitrary and no longer fit for purpose, serving only to create friction in workflow.
Instead, for reasons ranging from boosting productivity by making better use of worker time to providing an improved customer experience, workforce blending suggests that the barriers between front and back office should be torn down, and the skills and responsibilities that characterise each be shared more equally.
In this paper we will argue that, with its concern for improving the customer experience, blending can be seen as the latest stage in the evolution of workforce optimisation (WFO) strategies. Originating in customer-facing operations like the contact centre, workforce optimisation uses data and technology to marshal resources more efficiently, improving service levels,improving the customer journey and boosting workforce productivity.