Why At-Home Workforce (Part 2)

In part 1 of this blog series, we explored some of the common objections to an at-home workforce and offered some help around those objections. In this segment I want to explore some benefits of sending agents to work from home.

Beyond the common objections discussed in the previous entry, why should you hire or send your workforce home?  Let’s look at what CEOs care about.  Most that I know are focused on three primary objectives:

  1. Driving costs out of the business
  2. Increasing revenue and productivity
  3. Improving customer loyalty

Driving costs out the business is achieved in several ways using an at-home workforce. For starters, real estate savings are great when a call center is not paying for additional square footage otherwise occupied by adding agents to a brick-and-mortar center. Absenteeism is greatly reduced with an at-home workforce. A TelCoa study showed a decrease from 18% absenteeism rate to 7% when comparing a brick-and-mortar workforce to an at-home workforce. That equates to a lot of money annually. The study also showed that employee attrition went from 53% to 39% -- that’s a 26% reduction in attrition in an at-home workforce, and that’s not chump change.

Increasing revenue and productivity is the favorite of CEOs and contact center leaders. Our own internal research shows that productivity boosts can be achieved upwards of 15% when employees stay home. This is due to many factors: employees value not having to commute into an office, get dressed to meet a certain dress code, deal with traffic, weather, cost of fuel, wear and tear on their vehicles or the inconvenience of public transportation.  Additionally, the demographic of at-home agents are different than those who work in a center.  For example, let’s look at your typical brick and mortar workforce demographic.  The source is my own estimation and may not be exactly right – but you get the idea:

  • Average Age: 17-21
  • Facial Piercings: 5
  • Visible Tattoos: Several
  • College: LOL
  • Relevant Experience: Fast Food
  • Management Experience: Babysitting

Contrast that with a Frost and Sullivan study that showed the profile of an at-home workforce looked like this:

  • Average age: 35+
  • 80% have attended college
  • 85% have experience in sales and customer service
  • 40% have management experience
  • 30% are bilingual

You can see the obvious benefits and impact on productivity due to the caliber of agents you can expect when you are not limiting yourself to a certain area close to a brick and mortar center. Resulting productivity upticks should make any CEO smile.

Improving customer loyalty --  A TelCoa study also found that customers served by at-home agents were 12% more satisfied.  Hard dollars are difficult to glean from this statistic, but one of our own internal customers, a large on-line retailer, performed an internal study and found that for every percent increase in customer satisfaction, they netted $1 million in revenue! That’s impressive.

The concept of sending agents home is not a new concept at all. In fact from a historical perspective, the first telecommuter was a bank president living in Somerville, Massachusetts back in 1877 and companies like Jet Blue, WalMart, Office Depot, Hertz, and FedEx have an at-home workforce. We even have a customer that has 100% its call center workforce at home. That's almost 500 agents and not a single brick-and-mortar center.

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