Three Compelling Trends in Home Working
By Michele Rowan
Contact center home working is predicted to grow 30% per annum, according to industry analysts. As more organizations implement home-working programs, some new and compelling trends are emerging:

1. Reduced (but not removed) facilities footprints
Many companies with successful home-working programs are maintaining small facilities footprints in communities to achieve a number of objectives:

  • Continue to provide local support while virtual hiring, training and performance management programs are being built out.
  • Maintain some face-to-face interactions with employees.
  • Create a social meeting place for employees and families.
  • Continue localized recognition and reward programs in person.
  • Maintain local telephone switching equipment to zero out long-distance PSTN call-delivery charges.

2. Micro-shift scheduling
Taking an eight-hour shift and breaking it into two pieces, or taking a six-hour shift and dividing it, provides a number of benefits for centers:

  • Companies can more closely match the arrival patterns of voice and non-voice work to staffing requirements. Intraday management gains tremendous ground.
  • Home-based employees receive the benefit of breaks during the course of the shift to focus on high-priority life activities, like child care, studies, fitness or household activities. A high percentage of home-based employees actually prefer split shifts.

The benefits of micro-shift scheduling are reported to have a financial impact as high as facilities reductions for many businesses deploying the home-working model.

3. Virtual recognition and reward
To ensure that all employees have equal opportunity to be included in both formal and informal applause, there is major work under way to build virtual recognition and reward (R&R) environments.

How to start? High-valued behaviors and performance are weighted and monetized. Next, employees are awarded "points" for achievements, which are added to their online R&R banks. Discretionary awards are also added by supervisors. Employees then redeem their "points" for goods that they have nominated (i.e., retail gift certificates, gas cards, etc.), recognize the event as a taxable one, and "click & ship" to receive their goods.

As a final note, companies are lining their "virtual walls" with photos of artwork, poetry and personal non-work related achievements of their employees.

An interesting emerging trend from organizations who have properly developed programs: their virtual employees are more highly engaged than many of their onsite staff.

SPOTLIGHT: Bluegreen Corporation

A crusade to oversatisfy and delight customers by creating the "wow factor" is a key corporate value at Bluegreen Corporation. How do you monitor a high-volume operation to ensure that agents are providing the wow factor on every call? The vacation ownership firm created a voice of the customer strategy, called "Champions of Service," which uses speech analytics to understand how customers define a satisfying experience.

For instance, when management discovered that customers' views of their experiences with the care center were deeply influenced by the word choice that the agents used, the management team developed coaching sessions that focused on effective word choice. Bluegreen also began tracking the percent of silence on calls, as well as which individuals had a higher percentage of silence and key reasons for the call silence (e.g., the agent is looking something up in the knowledgebase). Again, targeted coaching helped to substantially reduce the percent of silence. Read the full story here.


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