The Pros and Cons of Work From Home Call Center Agents
- Work from home agents offer companies a flexible way to deal with customer service demands
- Remote work is attractive for many employees and offers enormous economic and health benefits
- Working from home also requires careful planning and sophisticated monitoring by employers
- Boomsourcing helps companies expand and flex without making radical and costly changes
In our most recent post, we examined the trend of companies employing work from home agents in their call centers. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the specific advantages and disadvantages that companies and employees face in regards to working from home. Considering these benefits and drawbacks is a key part of the analysis companies should carry out before implementing the practice. For some companies, it could be an excellent way to boost efficiency and flexibility. For others, it could represent a critical blow to their internal culture and even damage employees’ career prospects. Where the scales tip will depend on each organization’s particular needs and values.
Work from home agents tend to enjoy several huge benefits that their office-bound coworkers would have a hard time achieving.
1. Easier Employment for Parents, the Elderly, and Disabled Individuals
Parental leave is a controversial issue in some countries. Not all governments require companies to give new parents the same amount of paid time off to care for their newborns. There’s significant debate as to whether it should even be required at all. One thing is for sure, though, and that is that kids do better when their parents can be there for them in their most vulnerable years. Unfortunately, the nature of modern economies is such that it takes two full-time incomes to support a modern lifestyle for a family. Being able to work from home, therefore, helps parents kill two birds with one stone.
The elderly and disabled face similar concerns. It’s often a lot harder for people of advanced age or limiting physical conditions to travel long distances and deal with the stress of office work. If they don’t have the means to live off of retirement or disability benefits income, or if they just wish to stay busy and supplement what they do receive, this can be a dilemma. Being free to work from the quiet comfort of their own homes helps them to preserve their independence. It also significantly increases the labor pool a company can hire from!
2. No Commute!
It’s no secret that the time it takes to travel to a job is a huge opportunity cost. Americans alone spend almost two trillion minutes a year, collectively, traveling to and from work. Considering that the USA only makes up 4% of the global population, it’s clear that commuting sucks the life out of the world’s economy. And that’s just considering the time! The secondary effects, such as stress, pollution, and infrastructure costs, are mind-blowing.
Working from home instantly eliminates the vast majority of those problems for each worker who does it.
3. Higher Productivity Possibilities
Working from home instead of traveling to a busy, noisy office increases the possibility that workers will be able to be more productive. This is especially true when companies switch to shorter required workdays, or ditch the time clock altogether and pay workers on a per-task or salaried basis.
4. Better Work/Life Balance and Overall Health
By working from home, employees will be free to enjoy more time for exercise and will be more likely to eat home-prepared meals. If they don’t choose those particular options, they’ll also have more time and flexibility to engage in hobbies and educational or charitable pursuits. All of these options that open up will help improve workers’ health. This is a major economic benefit to companies and to the economy as a whole, with less time and work lost to sick days, and lower burdens on healthcare systems.
5. Strategic and Infrastructural Cost Savings
Companies that employ work from home agents for their call centers are able to save lots of money on infrastructure costs. Most such workers will rely on their own internet connections and other hardware, and the company definitely saves on the real estate they would need for a contact center expansion. In a similar vein, it’s easier for companies to locate their agents strategically, whether that means being closer to customers, or in specific time zones around the world to be available 24/7.
Of course, nothing in this world is ever all sunshine and rainbows. Here are some of the reasons companies may want to think twice before going all-in with work from home agents.
1. Performance Monitoring
Nobody likes having a supervisor breathe down their neck, but quality control is important for every business. Remote workers are much harder to monitor effectively, especially if they’re using their own equipment. Working from home calls for a high degree of trust and integrity. At a minimum, employers will want to ensure that they have effective software tools to keep an eye on how their agents are doing.
It goes both ways, too, since agents will occasionally need assistance. From home, you can’t just raise your hand and have a floor supervisor step over to your cubicle like in a traditional contact center.
2. Training and Setup
Likewise, making sure that agents have all the tools they need requires a little more logistical planning. Training has to be done via text and video, whether live or prerecorded. If the employee needs any special hardware to do the job, they’ll either have to purchase it themselves and submit a reimbursement, or the company will have to send it to them. Contact center software installation over the internet isn’t too complicated, but sometimes setting it up remotely can be a hassle if the agent lacks technical expertise.
3. Staff Development
This is perhaps the biggest personal disadvantage for agents. That’s because by working remotely from the office, they will miss out on many aspects of company culture. Some connection can occur via chat applications and videoconferences, and if they live nearby, then occasional get-together events are helpful. But the day to day interaction and competition with coworkers and managers will not be present. This can have detrimental effects on an agent’s career prospects in some settings. Effective networking within a company depends on face-to-face interaction. If this is important to company leadership, they should prepare to travel more extensively.
4. Information Security
This is the biggest risk by far for companies. That’s because any time remote agents have access to company information, it dramatically increases the risk of sensitive data breaches. Likewise, agents working from home are more likely to browse the internet and download malware that could compromise company systems. IT managers will have to develop solutions that keep company systems protected while still helping remote agents to do their jobs. Again, the issue of trust and integrity is paramount.
Working from home can be lonely. It is not something that all people are well-suited to, so HR managers should keep an eye on implementation. Even if they aren’t home alone, the home provides a myriad of different concerns and distractions from work that could compromise productivity. To resolve this issue, companies employing remote workers should establish clear expectations surrounding tasks, and implement methods that ensure 100% accountability.
How Companies Can Flex With or Without Work From Home Agents
As we noted before, Boomsourcing doesn’t use many work from home agents. We’re able to provide our clients with all the flexibility they need with our call center outsourcing solutions. With our headquarters in Utah, nearshore offices in Mexico, and offshore facilities in the Philippines, we have all the strategic placement we need to serve our clients at any time of day, anywhere in the world. Contact us today to discover why you don’t need to implement radical solutions to solve old problems!