Amazon’s push to create 30,000 part-time jobs over the next year just got a major boost as the company announced that it will open up 5,000 work-from-home, part-time positions in its Virtual Customer Service program. The initiative is over and above Amazon’s commitment to creating 100,000 full-time positions in the United States over the next one year.

The Virtual Customer Service program offers flexible work hours for people who prefer to work from home, such as military spouses or even injured military personnel. Virtually-located customer service executives who put in more than 20 hours a week are eligible for other benefits that are part of the Career Choice program and other initiatives. Career Choice offers up to 95 percent tuition funding for in-demand skills, even if there aren’t any positions within Amazon for such skills.

Tom Weiland, Amazon Vice President for Worldwide Customer Service, says:

“There are lots of people who want or need a flexible job—whether they’re a military spouse, a college student, or a parent—and we’re happy to empower these talented people no matter where they happen to live.

“We’re finding that roles with Virtual Customer Service are particularly attractive to military spouses who want to continue working and parenting, even if their spouse is deployed or the family is relocated, as often happens with military families. Wounded, injured or ill military veterans and others with mobility challenges are also enjoying these opportunities to work from home with Amazon. Both active duty and retired service men and women support our country and we are happy to support them.”

Over and above the Virtual Customer Service positions, Amazon will also create 25,000 jobs across its fulfillment centers, which are quickly becoming extremely important for Amazon’s strategy to have a physical presence in as many US states as possible. Here, employees will be assigned position in key areas such as sortation and consolidation of customer packages.

Amazon says that more than 70 percent of the VCS workforce logs more than 20 hours a week, which means they are eligible for several benefits such as “life and disability insurance, dental and vision insurance with premiums paid in full by Amazon, and funding towards medical insurance.”

Nearly 9,000 employees that opted for the Career Choice program, which has been open-sourced with the objective of motivating other companies to adopt such a program as part of their own HR practices.

Interestingly, Amazon’s experience with virtual employees goes way back, when the company launched mTurk, or Amazon Mechanical Turk, in 2005. The official tagline is “Artificial Artificial Intelligence”.

Essentially a marketplace for specific tasks called HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks), mTurk currently has over half a million open HITs available.

Virtual Customer Service is a different sort of program, but at its core it is still a virtual workspace for people to come and do tasks. Only, in this case, the tasks are related to Amazon’s rapidly growing contact center needs.

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Source: Amazon Press Release