Whether you call the setting remote, work from home, virtual, or telework, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced companies all over the world to embrace this staffing model. During the initial months of the pandemic, it quickly became apparent that businesses were going to have to rely on their staff to work and perform well from home. For many businesses, this work from home model was a completely new way of operating.
Before the pandemic, companies across most business sectors employed remote staff to varying degrees. Many executives, however, believed that allowing employees to work from home equated to decreases in productivity and losing the ability to effectively manage and motivate personnel.
Today, remote staffing is viewed quite differently, as the remote model has proven for many to be a superior one, not just a quick fix during a crisis. We can all name a number of businesses that were forced to close because of the effects of the pandemic, and it is thought that a significant number of companies would have gone out of business if not for the success of their remote staff or willingness to pivot to a remote work model.
Remote Staffing in the Contact Center Industry
The contact center industry is no stranger to remote staffing – call centers have been known to employ remote workers for decades. Even so, prior to the pandemic, many decision-makers were uncomfortable with the thought of having their customers served by individuals working from home. Some companies even had a policy that prohibited working with a contact center if they employed virtual staff. Since late 2020, however, positive experiences from staff who suddenly found themselves having to work from home during the health crisis altered the thinking of many professionals.
Companies that hire contact centers often employ internal staff tasked with the same responsibilities that they outsourced (“co-sourcing”) from a third party. When orders to shelter-in-place were issued, in-house employees were forced to work from home, just like the staff of the outsourcer they worked with. This change gave businesses the unique opportunity to compare the results their staff generated previously, while working in their offices, to staff who now worked remotely. The metrics were also available to make the same comparisons with their outsourced provider.
As many in the call center industry had anticipated, the results found by most was that representatives do not just perform well working from home, they perform even better when working there.
Advantages of the Work From Home Model
There are numerous reasons why employing remote personnel will remain a successful staffing strategy for many businesses, including contact centers beyond the pandemic. Below we list just some of the working from home benefits that businesses can expect when they transition to this model.
Benefits to employees include:
- Savings on expenses
- Vehicle maintenance costs
- Reduced insurance fees
- Work clothes
- Parking fees
- Cost of purchasing meals
- No commute to the office
- More family time
- Decreased chances of getting into accidents
- Ability to help family or conduct chores during breaks
- Improved health
- Additional sleep (no commute)
- Less exposure to viruses amongst co-workers
- Increased comfort, chair options
- Options for healthier lunches
Benefits to employers include:
- Reduced overhead of office space
- Expanded labor pools
- Access to specialized skills
- Better attendance
- Reduced turnover rate
- Potential for wage reductions
- Removal of geographic boundaries
- Increased productivity (happier employees = more productive employees)
Benefits to clients include:
- Better results
- Increase in tenure amongst staff
- Expanded skills and support language options
- Potential for lower costs
- Quicker program launches
FlexJobs reports that the average remote worker saves roughly $4,000 a year by not spending money on gas, coffee, lunches, and work attire. These savings are likely even higher for management staff, making remote work a no-brainer.
Why Remote Work is Here to Stay
Technology has allowed for a smooth transition to the remote working world we now operate in. Contact center technology has long allowed companies to train remote staff consistently, manage workforce performance and maintain security and compliance standards. Teleconferencing was also a widely adopted business tool for contact centers decades before the pandemic hit.
Many employees much prefer to work from home and, as the benefits of working from home often outweigh the drawbacks, employers will continue with the model.
The vast majority of 1,500 people polled in a recent Harvard Business survey said that they excelled and grew in their professions after a year of working remotely. Another 81% surveyed said that they either do not ever want to go back to their offices or would prefer a hybrid schedule.
According to an IBM survey, 54% of 25,000 adults surveyed said they would like to work from home primarily.
If production is up, costs are down, and the personnel most responsible for these impacts prefer to work from home, why shouldn’t they continue to do so? If the quality of work is on par or better than staff working on-premises, the work from home model makes too much sense to deviate from.
Companies evaluating contact centers like Telecom, Inc. should view remote staff as a favorable offering. We provide service to our partners in large part by way of remote personnel. We would be delighted to discuss how our remote staff can help you achieve your program objectives. Contact us today to learn more!