Work from home agents are growing in popularity in the U.S., and many organizations are taking advantage of the benefits of homesourcing. In 2014, homesourcing is the new outsourcing, with analyst firm Forrester noting in 2013 that 34% of companies show investment plans in home-based operations.
And the advantages to organizations are clear: home-based agents cost less to support using a cloud-based platform, have lower attrition rates and higher productivity than brick-and-mortar agents and are more environmentally friendly to boot.
But not every employee is cut out to be a remote agent. Working from home can provide its own set of challenges, from feeling isolated to an unpleasant blurring of the line between home and work. To take advantage of this popular trend, a few tips for work-from-homers to ensure success:
- Clearly delineate your work space In addition to the fact that having a clearly defined work space set up exclusively for your paid work is helpful for agent productivity, it's also easier to take advantage of tax write-offs for a home office. Kerry Hannon writing for Forbes cites the requirements for home office write offs: the space must be used for work only on a regular basis. She recommends snapping a photo of your work area should the IRS require documentation.
- Get dressed This may seem like a no-brainer, but many a well-meaning remote agent has opted to skip the morning ablution and clothing ritual. Showering and getting dressed just as if you were going to the office will help you feel more professional and productive throughout the day.
- Make a stop light for family members If you have kids or other family at home, play this fun game to keep your workspace private: tape a piece of red construction paper to the office door when you cannot be disturbed. When you're ready for a break and socialization, replace the red construction paper with a green one to give your kids or other family members the green light to interact with you.
- Invest in quiet Consider investing in a noise-cancelling headset with the ability to mute. Your customers don't want to hear your dog barking or kids screaming the in background, so take advantage of this technology to keep your at-home office as professional-sounding as possible.
- Socialize One of the biggest concern for remote agents is isolation, but with today's technology, there is a plethora of opportunities to socialize online. Use chat programs such as HipChat or Skype for group chats with colleagues and supervisors, and consider setting up Google Hangouts for video calls, the next best thing to being in the office in person! And if it's possible, make a point of either visiting the office in person or meeting colleagues for coffee during the week to maintain social connections.
Want to find out more about the benefits of implementing remote agents? Download Spoken's white paper on harnessing the power of remote agents.