Should You Consider a Work-at-Home Model for Your Corporate Call Center?

The concept of telecommuting, that is working from home, has gained traction in recent years. Home-based employees offer many benefits to both the employer and employee, that makes them a compelling consideration. But can this employment option work effectively in today’s corporate call center? Though there are both pros and cons for telecommuting, the work-at-home model deserves serious attention. Here are some reasons why you might want to employ home-based agents for your corporate call center: Tap a New Labor Market: By increasing the scope of your job postings to embrace the home-based worker, you increase your labor pool. This expands the number of viable candidates to consider. Although some employees are willing to accept a position that is either office-based or home-based, some employees prefer or even insist upon a work-at-home scenario. Some job candidates may seek a home-based employment opportunity simply because it’s their preference. This helps them avoid the time, frustration, and cost of commuting and the expense of buying office attire. Other potential employees may prefer to avoid the workplace environment. They’ll perform better in the relative isolation of their home. Still another group of employees may be homebound for various reasons that would have no effect on their job performance but do limit their ability to work in an office. Accepting offsite agents for your call center, embraces this expanded set of workers who could do a great job for your company. Find Employees With Superior Skills: Sometimes home-based employees have an expanded skill set, greater education, and more relevant experience then you might normally encounter when interviewing for office-based positions. There may be several reasons for this. A chief consideration is potential candidates who lack the interest or ability to work in an office. For them, their employment opportunities are limited. Therefore, they’re more willing to consider your position. When you employ them, you gain by hiring a quality agent, and they gain by having a job they value. Increase Agent Retention: Statistically, home-based employees have a longer retention than their in-office counterparts. In large part this is because they have fewer employment options to consider. Therefore, they have greater appreciation for their job, and they’ll work harder to retain their position. From this you gain a more stable agent workforce, and the employee benefits by having a job they can count on. Realize Greater Scheduling Flexibility: Though we must guard against taking advantage of home-based agents, they’re often more open to work odd schedules to accommodate the demand of your call center’s traffic. One example is split shifts. It’s hard to find an office-based agent willing to work three hours in the morning and five hours in the afternoon, with a three-hour break in between. But the home-based worker often sees this as a non-issue. In similar fashion, the work-at-home agent may be more willing to work short shifts than their office-based counterpart. Additionally, if they agree to it, a home-based agent is in a much better position for on-demand work than an office space counterpart. For example, assume you’re short-staffed for a shift. You can start calling your roster of not-scheduled agents to see if anyone will come into the office to pick up the slack. But by the time one of them says yes, gets ready for work, and makes it to your office, the open shift could be half over and the worst of the problems behind you. However, a home-based agent, can be online and taking calls within a matter of seconds. Improve Overall Call Center Effectiveness: When you combine these benefits, the result is a call center that can enjoy an overall increase in effectiveness. This results from agents who often have exceptional qualifications and possess greater loyalty to your company, which results in employees with increased knowledge and experience. When you hire home-based agents to help staff your call center, everyone wins. You gain by having better call center staff, your customers benefit by receiving a higher level of customer service, and your employees enjoy greater employment opportunities.  Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier consultancy for corporate call centers, whose team possesses decades of relevant business and call center experience. Contact Janet at or 800-901-7706. Peter Lyle DeHaan  is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.