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The Maturing Work at Home Model - New Trends

The work at home model is mature in the contact center world, with a solid 10 years of significant utilization under our belts. It is considered low lying fruit for ROI, in that businesses have the same clear visibility of output regardless of where people sit (in house or at home) and it appeals to so many people. This is not the case with many other enterprise roles, but for highly transactional jobs like many contact center experiences, working from home is - for the most part - a big, easy win.

The 2019 Remote Working Benchmarking Survey shows that the average mix of in house vs. at home reps is 70% in house and 30% at home, with some companies deploying 100% of their reps at home, others just 5%. So there's a wide span of mix at home, driven predominantly by business objectives.

With the maturity of the business model, here are shifting trends we are seeing from our hundreds of customers who pass through our doors (via work at home conferences and custom consulting):

  1. Business objectives for work at home have changed. Up until just a few years ago, real estate cost savings/reduction of facility footprint with the primary driver for most companies in deploying the work at home model.   Today, with 3% unemployment, the key objective is to offer rich benefit packages to attract and retain people, and this includes working from home. This is a big shift.
  1. Deployment strategies have changed. The model is mature, the technology works. Companies can get more creative now with deployment strategies. They now include large part-time work forces that office at of their homes, people that work some days in office and some at home, pop-up satellite offices in desirable hiring markets for purpose of new hire training/early day culture building.
  1. More support functions and managers have moved home. For years, many companies asked managers to remain in office, along with support functions, while customer experience reps went home. Why? For most, there was no good reason, except to avoid additional change. Today, after many trials and tribulations, many managers/supervisors and support functions work from home for at least part of their schedule, to effectively experience what their reps are experiencing.
  1. Performance results remain higher than in house for most.   Top of the list is employee satisfaction, which is higher than in house for 98% of companies utilizing the model. That's directly connected to retention, and attendance, along with high value metrics (production, customer satisfaction, selling).

Below are a few areas where a small percentage of companies experience challenges, and questions I would and do pose to get to root cause:

  1. 10% of companies report that medical leave (FMLA predominantly) is higher with home-based reps than in office. Relevant questions to ask to get to root cause on this include: a) what is your rep occupancy level running? Are you burning people out, and they are reaching for medical time off?   b) Are you moving people home that slack off in office? In other words, are you choosing people to work from home who don't have the discipline to work from home?
  1. 5% of companies report higher turnover vs. in house. a) Are you using temporary workers or a staffing agency for placement? b) Is your new hire training ineffective, causing people to exit early? c) Do your remote people connect to the company as easily and as often as in house employees, in all respects, including socializing, knowledge sharing, supervisor interactions?

If you want to learn more about what others are doing with their work at home models, join Michele Rowan and Customer Contact strategies at an upcoming work at home conference: