Is Work-From-Home the Future of Call Centers?
- A Work From Home Call Center is a very real possibility thanks to modern technology
- The Gig Economy and scheduling software make it easier for companies to respond flexibly to demand
- There are both major benefits and new challenges associated with working from home
- The future probably will include a variety of technology strategies for call centers
It’s the dream of many an employee: no commute, no traffic, later alarm clocks, cheaper food options, less stress, more pajamas… the list goes on. Working from home used to be the province of garage entrepreneurs and handymen. Even these domestic laborers would have to move to an office as the business grew. With the advent of the internet, however, a whole world of new possibilities began to emerge. Now, a full generation and a half into this revolution, working from home is becoming a bigger reality for more workers than ever before. We’ve gotten to the point where it’s becoming practical for companies to consider setting up work from home call center operations.
How Can a Work From Home Call Center Even Function?
What makes working from home possible in the first place is the increase in connectivity brought about by faster and better internet infrastructure and social media applications. Workers can collaborate remotely on the same document in the cloud. Video chats are more practical than ever before, giving managers the face-to-face interaction that they and their employees need.
All of this technology has made it possible for a wide range of industries to distribute their workforces more economically around the world. It’s becoming increasingly rare to find true “company towns” anymore because of this.
Beyond these core technologies, there’s something even more essential for helping call centers specifically to make the jump from office to home: scheduling software.
Beating the Clock
One of the biggest challenges call centers must deal with is predicting and preparing for peak inbound demand times. Some of these events are obvious, such as the holiday season for customer service staff. In those cases, traditional call centers can spend weeks leading up to those dates hiring and training new and temporary staffers. It’s a slow process that takes up a lot of time for HR. It also does almost nothing for dealing with unexpected short instances of unusually high call volume. These surprises may be very temporary, but the backlog can generate all kinds of ill will from customers waiting on hold.
One very simple way that some companies can deal with these kinds of situations is to let agents schedule themselves. It’s a way to take advantage of the gig economy, where many workers freelance throughout the day on various tasks for different employers. When there’s a sudden spike in demand, a customer service call center can open up its scheduling and payment system to more workers. These workers will already have training and software that lets them jump in at the moment they get the notification that there’s more work available. When demand is lower, these same workers will be off hustling on other tasks, like transcriptions or web design.
There are other possible work from home call center solutions out there, but this is the best one we’ve seen. It leaves no time wasted, as long as there are enough remote agents in place with the necessary tools ahead of time.
Advantages of Working From Home
It’s no secret that working from home sounds like a dream to many people. The digital nomad lifestyle, in particular, can be glamorous. As with anything in life, though, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
For both businesses and employees, there are some definite perks. Working from home makes it a lot easier for Parents with young children, the elderly, and the disabled to be able to keep a job. The lack of office interruptions and commuting can dramatically boost productivity. Workers are more likely to enjoy better health, with more time for exercise and home-cooked meals. There’s a better chance for a healthy work/life balance overall. This, in turn, reduces personal expenses, stress, and sickness, while boosting motivation. The company saves on office space and other infrastructure costs. It’s also able to position its workers more strategically in terms of geography.
Disadvantages of Running a Remote Office
There are also some potentially serious drawbacks, especially for contact centers:
- Difficulty monitoring performance – there could be difficulty managing home workers and monitoring their performance.
- Performance issues – possible deterioration in employees’ skills and work quality.
- Cost of working from home – initial costs of training and providing suitable equipment, including adaptations to meet health and safety standards and the needs of disabled employees.
- Problems with staff development – difficulty of maintaining staff development and upgrading skills.
- Information security risk – information security problems could be more likely to occur.
- Increased telecommunications costs – for example, increase in telephone or broadband bills or the requirement to supply your employee with a mobile phone for work purposes.
- Communication problems – could increase feelings of isolation amongst home workers.
- Decreased staff morale – it can be harder to maintain team spirit when employees are working at different locations.
- Not all jobs suit home working – working from home suits some jobs better than others. Equally, working from home suits some personality types but not others. Some people may prefer colleague contact by face to face communication.
Technology increasingly offers many solutions even to the most critical drawbacks, but that in itself is an investment decision. Each company that considers going down this road must evaluate whether the advantages outweigh the risks. If your biggest problem is volatility and unpredictable demand, it may very well be so!
Boomsourcing Works Smarter
We haven’t jumped on the work from home call center bandwagon quite yet. Is it the future? All by itself, not likely. More probable is a combination of this and other strategies to cover all the bases. Our particular clients’ needs haven’t made it an issue for us. We do allow some staff in certain departments to work from home as the need arises.
The combination of our onshore, nearshore and offshore offices makes for flexible global impact at all hours. We also have some innovative solutions to our clients’ needs in the form of the virtual assistants we provide, as well as the Ready Response technology within our Perfect Pitch contact center software. Boomsourcing provides a variety of call center services to all kinds of companies, so contact us today to start enjoying the benefits!