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Telecommuting: Does it Work for Your Business?

Many of us have seen the recent news about Yahoo deciding to sack their telecommuting program.  In fact, on Monday Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, reaffirmed this decision.  She spoke at the human resource professionals forum. Mayer reiterated Yahoo’s line on the telecommuting decision. “It’s not what’s right for Yahoo right now,” she told Fortune Magazine.

So, the question remains for many businesses out there whether or not telecommuting is right for them.  Many studies have been conducted recently that indicate there are ample benefits to having a structured telecommuting program. A recent analysis by the research firm IDC included an association between telecommuting firms and revenue growth. The revenue growth for telecommuting firms was especially strong for businesses with between 10 and 250 people, found Ray Boggs, a research vice president at IDC.

Three key things to consider:

1. People

A key ingredient in ensuring a telecommuting program runs properly are the people participating AND those managing the program. The management and executive teams have to be bought in to the idea that telecommuting is a strategy that works. Additionally, the selection criteria for employees needs to well-defined and focused on top-tier talent, especially early on. Ideally, this should be an incentive to the best employees. Over time, this should be reviewed at least annually to determine if course corrections need to be made.

2. Process

Stability of a telecommuting program is often determined through a well-defined process.  Things to consider include help desk support for telecommuters and confidentiality agreements for sensitive data. Others include work environment requirements (no barking dogs or crying babies in the background) and incentive programs. Employees need to have a good understanding of the telecommuting program. They need to understand the rewards offered and the potential risks of not following the rules. (The proverbial carrot and/or the whip.) The opportunity for success then increases dramatically. Most employees who telecommute do not want to lose this great employment incentive once they have had the pleasure of working in their pajamas and avoiding the previous one hour commute.

3. Technology

An organization must have the right contact center technology. It’s necessary  to effectively manage and communicate with the telecommuting staff. The obvious ones include ACD/PBX real-time reporting, forecasting/scheduling and real-time call recording to monitor agents. If you cannot manage remote employees as if they were in the building with you, you may need to rethink your strategy. However, some others to consider are how you will communicate real-time with hundreds of employees if there is a technology (ex: CRM) outage? Can IT remotely log into their desktop to resolve software issues?  How will you remotely train your telecommuting employees for any updates to your business environment?

In summary, telecommuting has often shown success with many organizations throughout the world.  The advantages of telecommuting include better productivity, reduced real estate and facility costs, and labor pool expansion. They also include flexible working hours coupled with improved employee quality of life. In the end, each organization must understand the risks/rewards based on their business environment and commit fully to the strategy once implemented.

Doug Wells, Contact Center Executive

Doug Wells, Contact Center Executive

Doug Wells is a seasoned contact center executive with eighteen years of experience building and leading world class organizations. Recognized for strong organizational and communication skills. Special expertise in cultivating and developing teams that improve profitability and increase customer satisfaction & retention through strong performance management of key goals and effective use of technology.

David Wise

David Wise

Chief Executive Officer, Founder at AVOXI
David has more than 18 years of management experience in the telecommunications industry. A graduate of the Citadel, David worked as a Senior Account Executive with Intermedia Communications and later co-founded Rapid Link, a leading provider of International callback and VoIP. David then founded AVOXI in 2001with a focus on providing niche international call center markets with customized voice and data services. read more
David Wise
David Wise

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