Is An At-Home-Agent Workforce Right For You?

Is an at-home-agent workforce right for you?

For the home agent model to be successful, policies must be written and agents must buy in to the concept that working from home is a privilege and that there can be no deviation from expectations as outlined. There are many potential benefits for both the employee and the business, including:

– Lower pay scale
– Lower Overhead costs (brick-and-mortar facility)
– Reduce turnover
– Improve productivity
– Increase employee morale
– Reduce absenteeism
– Flexible scheduling

There are several potential issues which must be considered before moving forward with an at-home agent pilot program:

– Security
– Non-controlled environment
– At home agent feeling disconnected and isolated
– No immediate access to IT support

Things to define and consider when setting up the at home agent program:

– Whose responsibility is it to provide PC/hardware and network connectivity?
– State employment laws

Employee eligibility for participation in the program does not guarantee acceptance into the program, however, there should be minimum requirements for consideration:

– Length of employment
– Performance metrics and standards (quality, adherence, reliability)
– Base technical skills (does the agent need frequent IT assistance)

The following departments’ participation is usually required for implementation and management:

– Human Resources (documentation and legal technicalities)
– IT (define connectivity requirements, assist with setup and testing)
– Finance (budgetary input)
– Operations (identify candidates, ongoing supervision and management)

The ownership, logistics, ongoing management of the program must be clearly defined:

– Select the right candidates
– Define access to support, supervisory and leadership
– Determine how often feedback will be delivered and via what method it will be delivered
– Define success measurements and review process
– Then document and communicate continued participation guidelines
– Clearly define productivity, quality and other metric requirements
– Define implementation
– Acquire sign-off from participants acknowledging understanding
– Clearly outline when the agent is required to work from the office
– Consider having the at home agents join on premise team activities and meetings on a monthly or quarterly basis
– As business needs dictate
– On scheduled days as requested
– If connectivity is disrupted for a defined period of time

Consider starting with a few agents, review the process and evaluate the successes and failures, change processes as necessary. The at home model isn’t right for every business or every agent, but can be a win-win under the right conditions and with the proper guidelines and management processes in place.

Darcy Tudor is executive vice president, Call Center Division, for Marketing Alternatives.