One of the most critical steps in making and receiving customer calls is deciding not just how many staff are required, but what type of staffing solution your business will utilize. Since about three-fourths of call center costs are related to labor costs, the decision is fundamental to the operation of your business.
How your business chooses to get people in place to handle its customer interactions will have an impact on every other function within the call center, including site selection and facility design, forecasting and scheduling, performance management, technology acquisition and management, facilities management, human resources administration, and risk management.
An increasingly popular option for contact centers is to have employees handle customer contacts while working from home or another remote site. The technology exists to allow agents to log in from home or any other remote site and receive calls in the same way as if they were sitting in your center.
There are many advantages to a telecommuting or remote setup:
1. Schedule Flexibility
The main advantage of using remote workers as all or part of your call center workforce is the flexibility gained in scheduling. It’s very difficult to cover the peaks and valleys of calls throughout the day with traditional staff. Your center may have a two-hour peak of calls in the morning and another in the afternoon. While the center can’t expect someone to come in and work a split shift to handle those periods, it may be reasonable to expect a person working from home to do so. Covering night and weekend hours may also be easier to accomplish with telecommuters. Many people don’t like to commute to work at night when crime and traffic risks rise. These same people may be willing to work those hours if they can do so from the comfort of their own home.
2. Real Estate Savings
Another primary benefit of telecommuting is the space savings accomplished by not needing to house agents in the physical center. Assuming that an agent occupies 50 square feet of space and the lease cost of the space is $20 per square foot per month, the savings per agent would be $1,000 per month or $12,000 per year. And this is just the cost of the space alone. Add to that the one-time and ongoing costs of building and maintaining workstations, furniture, lunchrooms, conference spaces, and other amenities, along the cost of additional utilities, and that savings could easily double.
3. Expanded Labor Pool
Another strong reason to consider the utilization of a remote workforce is the potential to attract additional labor sources. Geographically speaking, this would bring in a much larger pool of candidates. A telecommuting option may also simply bring in a larger group of skilled workers attracted to the prospect of working at home and avoiding the commuting hassles of getting to their job every day. In addition to avoiding the travel time of a long commute, employees can save money on transportation costs, food costs, and a working wardrobe.
4. Staff Retention
Businesses generally find that their teleworking employees have much higher job satisfaction and retention rates than traditional in-house employees. In addition to the “hard dollar” employee benefits listed above, the additional time found in their day is a big factor in overall satisfaction and quality of life.
5. Increased Productivity
Many trials of telecommuting workers versus traditional office workers suggest that telecommuters are more productive. The main reason for this higher productivity may be that there are fewer interruptions to distract the employee. Their comfort and increased satisfaction from working at home may also be a contributing factor to the boost in productivity.
6. Disaster Recovery
Disasters and emergencies can happen that disable normal call center functions, and having a pool of remote workers can assist your call center in carrying out its work. A flu epidemic or icy roads may prevent staff from coming into the center, but work can still be carried out in remote sites. A flood or power outage at the site can damage workstations, but assuming connectivity is still possible through the main switch, agents can continue to process calls.
7. Environmental Impact
Having fewer people driving into the enter every day can certainly reduce auto emissions and pollution. This isn’t just a humanitarian benefit, but it may also help some companies comply with legal regulations. The federal Clean Air Act requires companies with more than 100 employees in high-pollution areas to design and implement programs to reduce air pollution. Setting up a telecommuting program is one option for compliance.
Would remote staffing be a viable option for your business needs?
The Call Center School offers training programs in a delivery format conducive to training a remote workforce. Our online e-learning curriculum is available on demand, from anywhere the student has access to the internet, making it one of the most convenient, easy-to-use, and cost-effective training solutions available.