5 Things HGS Learned Ramping our Work@Home Program

By HGS Go-to-Market Lead Marco Colaiacovo

This HGS blog should help you answer these key questions:

  • Why are work-at-home job opportunities becoming the ideal career choice for many employees and companies?
  • How does HGS’s work-at-home program grown?
  • How can work-at-home agents optimize customer experience?

Working from home is increasingly a trend that delivers real benefits to businesses. Since our September 2018 launch in Canada,  HGS’s own US Work@Home headcount has grown by 70%. Today HGS has successfully launched this employment solution in the U.S., and we are looking at other geos, as well.

Here’s a snapshot of our Work@Home success:

  • Approximately 1,000 Work@Home employees across both U.S. and Canada--Because of the very nature of the Work@Home environment, we are able to provide cross-geo support to clients.
  • Our U.S. launch has enabled the virtual workforce to grow by 70% since September 2018.
  • HGS was able to assist a client seasonal demand by adding 600 agents in a four-month period.
  • We now support 11 unique clients and 15 unique programs from home.

Our success has been reliant on five fundamental lessons learned early, which enabled us to overcome or avoid obstacles to growth:

  1. Commit as an organization.

Executive leadership must commit to a Work@Home program, and they must be willing to accept and drive disruption. Too often organizations operate in a “safe” zone, in which traditional brick-and-mortar (B&M) processes are adhered to, this is not the case with HGS Work@Home. And that’s because traditional methods of operating and managing people may not be conducive to a successful Work@Home program. Instead, an organization must be willing and more importantly, able, to adjust and think outside boxes. 

Individual stakeholder groups will drive the disruption; they must have the encouragement and confidence of an organization to implement what many would consider unusual processes. This includes self-scheduling with nontraditional shift lengths; nontraditional demographic targets; video enabled communications. These are all areas of disruption that are also critical to success.

Additionally, there must be top-down good governance. HGS executive leadership has embraced Work@Home and has driven the OneHGS mentality by promoting the creation of a unified approach, enabling all stakeholder groups to be nimble and flexible.

  1. Dedicate resources.

Developing a Work@Home model is not a hobby---it’s a commitment and passion that takes dedicated people in dedicated roles to innovate and ensure sustained program  growth. Too often, organizations believe employees can create and grow programs while doing their day jobs. It’s essential to ensure a dedicated Work@Home lead, one who is informed and passionate about achieving results—and one who can build and maintain bridges between stakeholder disciplines. Additionally, each discipline needs to have dedicated support to focus solely on Work@Home.

  1. Focus on Work@Home recruiting—it’s  not as easy as you’d think.

With a wider recruiting footprint, it should be easy to have more people apply! This is a true statement; however, the need is for qualified Work@Home staff. I’m often asked about the demographic of a Work@Home employee. My answer is that this ideal employment demographic is not age- or gender-related, but rather, situational. Ideal Work@Home recruiting aims for employees who need to work from home, groups like: mobility challenged, scent sensitive, rural residents, or military spouses. These groups must be sought out. While singular focus on job boards will provide an organization a higher applicant pool, without an enhanced vetting process, trying to pare the applicant pool down will require extensive resources.

Ultimately, Work@Home is a highly unique program, and a higher applicant flow does not necessarily translate to improved recruiting fill and retention rates.   Fit has never been more important in a recruiting effort than with the Work@Home environment.

  1. Build the Work@Home team structure from within.

What better way to grow a unique program with its own unique environment than with people already in that environment? We have built our support and leaders from the existing Work@Home teams. The reason is simply that these team members truly understand the environment and will be in a better position to motivate and manage people in that environment. A traditional B&M employee will not have lived in Work@Home situations, so although they may be a top performer in a B&M, they may not necessarily be a top Work@Home performer

  1. Never stop building your Work@Home network.

Driving the Work@Home program takes a solid network, whether it’s a provincial or state government, economic development group, or community partners. Remember when an organization is entering new jurisdictions, there are two things that need to happen, one is to introduce your organization to the area as most likely you are an unknown entity,  the second is to educate on what Work@Home is and its legitimacy.

We start at the top and enlist our partners to help build our network. This takes physical visits and many conversations and demonstrations/presentations. But in the end, the network continues to expand, as a result the growing list of candidates who need to work from home.

Finally, remember that this solution must be a win for all. With focus on all of these elements, our Work@Home program appeals to all sides of the relationships. More and more, people are looking to work from home, and clients are in search of quality customer service solutions and support delivered to their customers.

Author Info

Marco is responsible for developing and growing the HGS Work@Home program. Working with all stakeholder groups, Marco drives innovation and direction to facilitate continual improvement. Over a 20+ year career in the contact Ccentre sector, Marco has collaborated with both internal and external partners to create and deliver an environment that produces world-class service.  Marco works out of his home office, based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and also serves as President of Contact Centre Association of Nova Scotia.