The Basics of Employing Remote Call Center Agents
0 min read
Remote working is common for many companies. Today, over 3 million Americans work from home. Due to advances in digital technology, not only is this possible, but for many, it’s more desired.
This is because it is more convenient and even more cost effective to have employees work from home. But have you ever wondered if it’s really a good idea? Below is everything you want to know about employing remote call center agents:
Who works from home?
Today, more than 50 percent of call centers in the U.S. have at least some employees who work at home. Remote working has become an increasingly popular trend. In fact, many have argued that it is not only more convenient, but also a more productive way of work. And while many companies are beginning to offer remote options, call centers in particular have dived head first into the new way of work.
What are some of the advantages of hiring a remote workforce?
The idea of working remotely is gaining in popularity for many reasons:
- Working remotely can actually help cut costs. Office space is expensive, especially for call centers that have hundreds of reps working for them. For these call centers, especially those that are based out of large cities with sky-high rental prices, it makes more economical sense to have many virtual call center agents working from home.
- Many workers are happier with this arrangement. It means that they can stay in the comfort of their own home, rather than getting dressed in uncomfortable clothes and sitting in a cubicle all day. We already know that cubicles are not great for morale, so by allowing agents to work where they feel most comfortable you can increase employee satisfaction and overall attitude toward work.
- You can choose the best of the best. With remote workers, location no longer gets in the way of selecting the best candidate. By having employees scattered across the country or the globe, you actually have the ability to pick and choose from the cream of the crop.
- Agents are more productive. Because their main priority is to give individualized attention to each caller, it may actually help agents to be on their own where it really does feel like it’s just them and the caller, instead of in a large office filled with distractions.
What are some of the disadvantages of hiring remote call center agents?
It’s fairly obvious that what call centers lose most when they have a majority of reps working from home is the sense of community and connection. If everyone works from home, you’re not heading into the same office, seeing the same people every day. This means a bit of that community is lost. It can also complicate things when it comes to training or progress reports.
Sometimes it’s easier for employees to slack off or stop paying attention when they’re in front of a computer screen in their own home instead of seeing their boss across the hall working at his or her desk. This is why, for many, it makes sense to work remotely but have regular check-ins to assess progress and points for potential improvement, if not in person, then at least via Skype.
How does working remotely affect scheduling?
A shift in the flexibility of scheduling and working hours is possibly the largest benefit of remote work and why so many call centers are offering remote work as an option. Call centers in particular cannot often hold regular working hours. Because the average customer is at work during these normal working hours, many call centers actually receive higher call volumes on, what would be for most other companies, off times. Because of this shift in timing, many choose to hold later hours than most other industries or even offer 24/7 services.
In these cases, remote commuting is almost a must-have option. It’s simply unreasonable to ask workers to commute into work at 2 a.m., so it makes sense for these night shift call center agents to work from home. This allows call center agents to have more flexible schedules and, therefore, keep the call centers open and running later or even all night long.
What changes with remote working?
Some of the biggest shifts in the workplace to account for when running a remote call center are:
- Security: Because you have workers using off-site technology in the privacy of their own homes or even in coffee shops, you need to make sure that your data remains secure. For many, this means installing special access codes and adding additional passwords. Some call centers even record the screens of their workers so that they can see if a security breech is taking place and do their best to prevent it, or at least resolve it after the fact.
- Training: Training becomes a challenge when it must all be done by video and over the phone. Often, it’s helpful to incorporate some type of test at the end to give the employees extra incentive to follow along and to make sure that they’re actually ready to jump in. Additionally, monitoring calls and providing whisper coaching when necessary can dramatically shorten training times with remote agents. Choosing the right virtual call center software can also improve training time as good software is intuitive and easy to learn.
- Check-ins: With remote work, it’s often no longer possible for managers to check in with their employees via regular meeting. These now must shift to calls or even video chats instead of in-person evaluations.
The work world is changing and the call center industry is right at the head of it all. There are many advantages to this shift towards remote working and, with the right tools and adjustments, remote working can actually save money and result in happier and more productive employees.
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