Working from Home – Productivity within the Contact Centre Industry

Silvia Planella/ April 22, 2013/ News

 

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, announced in the month of March the intention to bring back Yahoo’s employees to its offices. This news was received by the staff members and the internet community with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, working from home provides freedom for employees to work within a different set of dynamics. On the other hand, it can pose serious challenges  for managers trying to evaluate performance and coordinate meetings.

Working from home is a common practice for IT and Software development companies. Also, it is an increasing trend within the Contact Centre sector.

The Contact Centre Industry is  well known for being able to work from different locations. Companies outsource their contact centre requirements to third parties (contact centres) that can be located in the same country or outside (off-shore), in order to reduce costs and provide a more dedicated customer care service. Hence, Contact Centres have developed internal and external policies to ensure the communication between companies head office and customer care advisers are the same.

For example, Call Management works with clients that are in distant geographic locations such as Australia, USA and UK. This geographic distribution has allowed us to develop structured processes and policies to create, nurture and harmonise communications flow 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

These well tested processes and policies have developed over 10 years.  They have been revised and  are being tested to expand them to include the “work from home scheme”. Call Management has developed this scheme in order to engage and decrease attrition levels within our contact centre (Last year our attrition level was 15% and industry level a 35%). We have detected through our exit interviews that 95% of our past employees left the company for one of the following reasons: family movement to another country and/or change of career plan or returning to further education.

Emigration

87,100 people of all nationalities left Ireland in 2012 according the Migration figures published by the Central Statistics Office and 80,600 people the previous year. This emigration trend affects all families and businesses. For example, our Marketing Coordinator decided in November to move back to Spain. She is currently testing our “work from home scheme” although from another country.

Working from home is a great opportunity to manage family and work life. After 5 months working  under this scheme, I can confirm that it has its challenges; however, when you feel passionate about your job, and appropriate structure and communication processes are in place, it is one of the best options. I believe that being in the office has its positive side and I love to talk and develop concepts with colleagues. It is important to find a balance between both scenarios to ensure and improve quality through all levels” – Silvia Planella, Marketing Coordinator in Call Management since 2011.

Silvia is one of the 87,100 people who decided to leave Ireland in 2012; but, using our Call Management work from home scheme, we have been able to retain her talent and create a suitable environment for both parts. Now, she divides her time between Ireland and Spain in order to obtain the best balance between working as part of a group and  working alone.

Career development

Call Management’s attrition rate is low because we take care of the personal development of our employees. We aim to recruit persons that are passionate about customer care and have experience within the sector. Also, our Human Resources department monitors with the assistance of a consultant the well being of our employees while dealing with difficult calls and analysing stress levels  of the agents. We aim to provide the most comfortable environment for each and every one of our employees.

We are delighted to see our employees’ progress inside and outside Call Management and we invest a great deal of effort and resources to provide our agents with training related and unrelated to contact centre skills. However, sometimes our employees aim to develop their careers outside the contact centre industry. In these cases we know that we are losing a big asset for our company. In order to minimise the impact of their loss to the Company, and for these employees staying in the same country, we have developed a “back up” team program. This back up team is comprised of previous employees who have excelled in their duties with the company and they are willing to earn some extra money using their skills to help Call Management when short projects arise and we have an unexpected increase in contact volume.

This reduces recruitment investment and the level of training for our clients. Also, it increases quality of service and it help us to keep in touch!

We aim for this back up team to have access to the work from home scheme combined with days in the office to refresh skills. In this way we can maximise our human resources and provide clients with a higher quality level while ensuring employee satisfaction.

Work from Home schemes from Yahoo, Google, Call Management or other companies can only succeed if based on trust, employee satisfaction, increased productivity and reduction of cost. To find the correct balance between these key elements can ensure further benefits for any company within IT, the Contact centre industry or other sectors. So, we will see how Yahoo gets on with their call back to its employees,  and how the   “work from home scheme” evolves for Call Management.