- Jim Farnsworth
How Working From Home Is Transforming American Industry And Jobs
Imagine how your business would be transformed if you could ignore the limitations of geography and just hire the best people wherever they are located. Imagine if you could access a talent pool that spans the globe, not just the neighborhood close to your office. Imagine how your business could perform if you removed the limitations of geography and turned distance into an ally.
It sounds impossible, or just the ‘Flat World’ theorizing that business school professors like to teach their MBA class, but this is real. Executives across all industries should already have a strategy in place that allows them to only work with the best possible people from across the globe. They should, but how is it possible?
It’s possible to overcome the limitations of geography by creating a ‘Work At Home’ strategy that allows leaders to select the best people for their team no matter where they are located.
If you are sitting on a crowded train, or stuck in traffic, heading to work with millions of others all at a similar time then this may sound strange. Is working from home really so accepted and mainstream? According to data published by the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), 53 million Americans now work from home. This comprises both company employees and freelancers, often engaged in the gig economy for companies such as TaskRabbit, but that’s 45% of the entire American workforce spending their working time mostly at home. Almost half of American workers think that those of us sitting in an office all day are the eccentric ones!
The NJIT research also suggests that a third (34%) of American business leaders believe that over half of their full-time workers will be working remotely, or from home, by 2020. This is supported by research undertaken by Gallup in 2015 where 37% of American workers said that they have spent at least some time working from home. Telecommuting is no longer a niche activity.
Working from home can have significant benefits for employer and employee. Technology Advice Research published data in 2015 suggesting that 61% of people find their productivity is increased at home due to reduced office politics, fewer interruptions, and reduced stress - especially the stress caused by commuting. 88% of people working from home believe that it reduces their levels of stress and 80% believe that the ability to work from home has a generally positive impact on their health. In addition, data just published this month from Gallup shows that employees who spend 60-80% of their time working from home are the most engaged with their job and employer.
Working from home requires strict system tools and protocols. A home worker will not be logging in from Starbucks. However, even with the requirement to use approved systems, the home worker enjoys far more convenience than the traditional office worker. Technology is literally breaking down borders and allowing companies to hire the best team members, wherever they are located.
These benefits apply across the entire economy. The most successful companies in the USA are all actively hiring employees that will work from home, including those in my own specialist field - customer experience. Companies delivering customer service traditionally opened contact centers near to cities or large universities so a steady supply of agents could be guaranteed, but with a Work At Home strategy this is no longer necessary.
In fact, the Work At Home opportunities for companies that need a contact center can demonstrate how far reaching this business trend really is. Consider these benefits of a Work At Home strategy for the customer service team:
You can find the best possible people - period; you are not limited to just hiring those who live within a reasonable commute from your contact center, you can hire the best from across the entire country - or even internationally - ensuring that your pool of potential talent is extremely deep. You can focus on hiring only the best.
High security systems; the evolution of improved security systems and technology that connects remote workers allows office security protocols to extend to remote workers. With dedicated agent systems and strong data encryption customer information is just as safe as it would be if the agent were based in a regular office.
Training is easy; it used to be a real challenge to bring new agents up to speed, both on the procedures of the contact center and the brand culture of the client they are representing. Now with high quality training materials, and live video training channels, getting remote agents on-board is almost as easy as having them inside a training room in the office.
You can hire for brand; This is really a function of having access to a deeper talent pool as I already mentioned, but it is a specific advantage for contact centers. If your client is a cell phone provider with a certain brand image then you can hire agents who specifically suit that client.
Flexible scaling; whether your contact center needs to get bigger or smaller, it is never restricted by the size of the office. You can grow as big as you need without running out of desks.
These opportunities demonstrate a microcosm of the benefits of employing people who work from home. Contact centers are the interface between customers and brands so the knowledge and engagement of agents is critical. If your organization can hire the best, most engaged people from anywhere in the world, just imagine how this can improve the service you offer to customers.
As the Gallup research demonstrates, working from home is increasingly normal in corporate America. It is a strategy that has been transformed by improved access to Internet bandwidth, better software platforms and advanced security measures. Executives can see that this is one business trend with a clear upside for both the employer and employee. A team that works from home can transform your business and create a happier, more engaged workforce. Why not remove the limitations of geography and transform your business by seeking out the best, wherever they are located?