Flexed to breaking point

'Thank you for your continued flexibility in serving our customers.'

A line found at the bottom of emails to members in flexible resource sites every day.

When the department said that they wanted to work in a more flexible way I never believed it would mean not knowing what my day was actually going to consist of; not just day to day but hour to hour and sometimes even more frequently than that.

Each week management send out a steer for the following week, but by the time the email has landed it is seemingly out of date and before you know it it's 'max resource' on the phones and everything else has to be dropped.

During this time all the letters that customers send in are left to mount up and aren't given the priority they deserve; this is because the department has a target for the call waiting time that a customer is subjected to before speaking to us. This target is a result of continued scrutiny of HMRC's level of service by the public accounts committee (PAC).

The department however seems to be fudging the figures by putting everyone on the phones to bring the average wait time down. Often members are sat for up to 15 minutes between calls and as a result other work is not getting done.

Members feel really frustrated that they are being restricted by HMRC in providing a good service to our customers, particularly the ones that write in to us.

Another issue with flex sites is that while they are a contact centre in all but name they don't have the same level of safety protection as contact centres; concentrating is difficult, and the noise is unbearable since members find themselves having to compete with the volume of their colleagues so the customer can hear them.

There is also a great deal of pressure on us to hit targets by dealing with calls in the least amount of time possible, even on calls where we haven't had training and with more and more different types of calls coming through.

No proper training is provided, we're just to follow a call type process that often doesn't lead you to an answer, but adds to the pressure by increasing the time you are on the call.

Working in a flex site is one of the most stressful jobs I have done in HMRC and I see it day in and day out affecting my colleagues as they break under the pressure.

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