Work Wherever. Hire From Wherever
By Carla Donar
Director, Human Resources
You know working from home is part of our mainstream culture when it has an entire day devoted to it.
Calendars mark New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and in some circles, people mark April 10 – to observe Global Work from Home Day. What was once a marginal concept has gained more attention and analysis than it did for generations of work.
Global Work from Home Day initially started shortly after NASA engineer Jack Nilles coined the term ‘telecommuting’ in 1973. In the 1980s, IBM tested remote work first with five employees and soon expanded it to about 2,000 employees, including contact center staff. Once a concept limited to farmers, artists, and reclusive writers, working from home was gaining traction – quickly. In fact, according to a Gartner survey, almost three-quarters of surveyed businesses were planning to shift their employees to remote positions as post-pandemic work practices stabilize.
The emergence of the Working from Home (WFH) phenomenon has even spawned its own cottage industry. WFH devotees can find specialized products such as mugs, artwork and ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs on their favorite Etsy page.
But startups and traditional manufacturers have also targeted the WFH demographic with homespun standing desks, laptop stands for our lawn or La-Z-Boy chairs or attachments to turn our single-monitor laptop quickly and easily into a three-screen workplace. Most, if not all, attention on the benefits of working from home is from the employee’s perspective, largely stemming from an improved work/life balance.
However, much less attention has been paid to the advantages WFH offers employers. Certainly, the obvious benefits include reduced office-related costs, but while employees can work anywhere, employers can recruit from anywhere as well.
Hire From Anywhere
Savvy leaders and competitive companies will master the art of creating a workforce that works from anywhere. Offering remote work creates an opportunity to attract and retain qualified, passionate talent and allowing them to perform roles from anywhere. Identifying the right knowledge worker is the key to the future success of a business, regardless of where the worker resides.
Creative business leaders can reduce overhead costs because they’re hiring remote staff for specific skills their organization requires at any given time. Creating variable cost models to support labor requirements will enable an on-demand labor force, improving margins for companies. Transferring fixed labor costs to variable costs will allow companies to reward skilled workers more for productivity, performance, and efficiency.
The best labor, full- or part-time, will ultimately demand more compensation in the marketplace because they deliver results and make an impact for the businesses they serve. This approach can fundamentally shift the contact center BPO sector.
With WFH contact center agents managing more complex customer interactions, BPO providers can recruit skilled staff from anywhere drawing on a deeper pool of candidates to support their clients. They are not limited by the candidate pool in a restricted geographical area.
Skilled healthcare providers from urgent care nurses to pediatricians can now support telemedicine calls from Detroit to Denver. Furthermore, frontline agents can be re-skilled to perform higher-level duties, such as ‘tuning’ digital agents to handle routine inquiries. Upgrading the technological skills of entry-level, minimum wage contact center agents will allow them to increase their professional marketability while deepening the pool of remote talent.
A growing body of research indicates staff retention hinges more on allowing the ability to work remotely. Remote workers are far more engaged than those stuck in an office five days a week. In fact, those who work about 60-80% remotely over three or four days a week are far more engaged than those who spend all their time in the office.
One case study even indicated that the increased productivity of remote workers equated to an additional day of work. And a clear byproduct is allowing teams to work remotely lets companies boost their employee retention rates.
The advantages of working from home – for the employee and our clients – was a critical component of our approach to developing a comprehensive WFH strategy when we started to move agents outside of the traditional brick & mortar facility. What was once a promotional tool for the benefits of the WFH concept, Global Work from Home Day is now a celebration of a commonplace fixture in our lives.