CH Consulting Group consultant and contact center expert, Wayne Barnes, discusses Work from Home (WFH)…
- Brooks Arvizu
How to Make Working From Home Work for your Business
- Brooks Arvizu
- 22 June 2016
I have been working in the customer service/sales industry for almost 17 years now and I’ve seen technological platforms and hardware come and go but the brick and mortar model still has the same exact feel as it did when I started, rows of particle board desks surrounded by cubicles that were most likely purchased for a really good deal from another call center that went under, wires hanging down from the ceilings and those lights that drain your soul. You won’t get very many people that would argue that it’s the ideal situation and the great thing is that it doesn’t have to. Improved business applications are making working from home more beneficial than ever.
If the WFH (work from home) model is new to you then I highly recommend that you research and seriously consider all the benefits it can afford you and your employee’s. The WFH model isn’t a new concept and has been researched for many years showing that when done correctly this structure can:
Decrease the high cost of maintaining and operating a brick and mortar structures: This high cost overhead like Utilities, Building Maintenance and furnishings. IBM’s WFH program was able to decrease real estate costs by 50 million dollars.
- Real Estate: In every program or center I’ve helped get off the ground location has been a make it or break it factor. Making sure you have strong workforce potential is crucial! To recruit the right people you need confidence that they are able to consistently commute to work. A few factors are general population density, public transportation availability and distance from college campuses. Consider how a WFH model would allow you to increase the skill level of your employees by opening the positions to a higher percentage of people who are not bound by those location restrictions.
- Increased productivity: A nine month Stanford University study of 13000 people showed that working from home increased productivity by 12% compared to their standard office counterpart.
- Employees are just happier: The list of benefits for employees is extensive and includes everything from financial savings to better physical and mental health. I love working from home and if you’ve ever done it you can’t tell me you didn’t like it.
- Save the world: Yes the last benefit is that you would do your small part to make the earth a better place and maintain healthy environments for our children and us. There are some places in the world like in Delhi India where congestion and pollution is so bad that they city government stepped in limiting the amount of cars allowed on the road encouraging people to work from home, hopefully we won’t get to that point. NEPI “ The National Environmental Policy Institute stated that if only 10 percent of the US work force telecommuted one day a week it would eliminate 12,963 tons of air pollution and more than 1.2 million gallon of fuel conserved.
Alright I’m done trying to sell you on the WFH model, the information is out there showing its efficiency and potential but like with anything new there are success stories and their are fails, everyone was talking about when Marissa Mayer came on as CEO of yahoo and banned all working from home but even they couldn’t fight its presence brining it back in 2013.
So the questions we need to be asking ourselves are what changes does management need to make to support this model and what do employees need at home to be successful? I’ll break it down into 4 categories.
- Everyone is different and WFH isn’t for everyone, a Chinese study done on 508 employees that were divided in half, given the same training and resources showed a 13% increase in productivity, decreased breaks and fewer sick days compared to the employees that worked at the office however when offered permanent work at home positions only 50% of the employees accepted, mostly because they were afraid of getting distracted. Remember every position isn’t for every person so; choose employees that have a proven their abilities to work independently.
- This starts with knowing that we cannot and should not try to control everything but focus on the expectations that you require from your employee’s. Employers should try looking at their employees more like partners or independent consultants that are required to produce a product or complete a task in a set period of time and as long as they meet or exceed your expectations in an honest and ethical manner by utilizing their individual strengths then how they accomplish that task is not something you should sleep over.
“Our success has really ben based on partnerships from the very beginning”
Offices and home offices both have the potential to create a constant flow of distractions, the advantage of working from home for your employee’s is that they have the control to create a customized environment that works best for their individual needs.
“ Innovation and best practices can be sown throughout an organization – but only when they fall on fertile ground” – Marcus Buckingham
- Call centers are notorious for having poor communication with their CSR’s and thee most frequent complaint I hear across the board is that employee’s don’t feel like their opinions are heard by management, I challenge everyone to take the creation of a work at home model to improve communication by utilizing any of a wide variety of tech platforms like Fuze Meeting, WebEx, Campfire, DeskAway etc.. Many of these platforms not only allow video conferencing so you get your face time with employees but offer a wide variety of document sharing, messaging and organizational tools that blow away pulling a CSR off the floor for a quick chat.
I think working from home has been a dream for a lot of people and finally I am confident that the technology is at the level to make it a potentially smart solution for your business infrastructure.
Books is an independent consultant focused on Contact Center and Technology
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