Late 2014 I did research about Work At Home Agent (WAHA) vs. How this can benefit the employee, the company, customer and of course the climate around us. This year I take up this topic again and have done some new researching on whether this is something that works in our business world or not?
In this article, I will also provide some crucial details that are important if you are taken use off WAHA.
I will start explaining a bit, so here is WAHA in a nutshell: Telecommuting, remote work, or telework is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central place of work. A person who telecommutes is known as a "telecommuter", "teleworker", and sometimes as a "home-sourced," or "work-at-home" employee. WAHA is a way to meet the demand from employees on flexibility, ability to continue working while caring for elderly/children. WAHA is a way for the employer to reduce fixed costs, increase flexibility and at least but important, lowering attrition.
Meeting employee demand - First careers are less willing to become a cube dweller or lifetime commuter; they also value face to face meetings less; already used to online friendships and communication: Facebook, MMO`s, etc. They also value flexibility to a greater degree. For second careers who are faced with the challenge of finding a workplace that allows them to care for a child, an elderly parent/spouse or in other ways don`t desire to move/work from a central location.
Work from home also lacks the social stigmata in Scandinavian countries that is associated with a call center job.
For the Employer - Adds geographical flexibility; No longer restricted to recruiting in one area – employees can be found all over Norway.
Without the commute, it is easier for individual employee is to be flexible when overtime is needed
Examples from other countries; the US especially show that with a good recruitment process home agents score; comparable or better in terms of knowledge, skill or customer service; while having a lower rate of attrition than regular agents.
So, what is needed to make it work? Here come some points that are crucial.
3. Central training first week. This to build team spirit through having some critical initial onboarding with the manager and other team members. Get used to the equipment they will be using from home and problem-solving on it. Some skills/knowledge is hard to transfer via webinar`s/e-learning; e.g., soft skills, sales training, etc.
4. E-learning solution for initial training. Without this kind of system, then WAHA will not give the company the effect.
5. Local IT support when needed. Quicker response time in those cases was an agent`s HW stop working/unable to connect. Critical to ensure a smooth process in the ramp up and ramp down times.
6. Good LMS tool.
Coaching and developing - Team leader is the key to make sure that the agents in all matters have the right information and feel confident when they are working on the “other side of the country.” This can be done thru:
*Why video chat? Helps convey complex ideas and give a more personal follow up. When you can see the person, you are working with.
*Why a super user in each team? To have an extra ability to offer quick support via text chat, when there are multiple questions at one time, as Team Leader will to a greater degree be unavailable while doing 1-1 coaching.
Competitive advantage - Gamification
Can quality be maintained? Here are some numbers that are collected from a North American company, with 500+ employee`s working in a Home Office, 2 years into the project. They transitioned from classic Call Centre to home office solution more or less in total.
And of course, it’s some challenges, and here are some of them:
This gives you a small picture of an entire new way to run your business. I am more than happy to share a lot of other details to make sore that you have the full picture before taken the next step on this new and exciting world of doing business.
Please leave a comment with your thoughts or any ideas I may have missed. You can comment here on my LinkedIn profile or get in touch directly.