Work-at-home job opportunities are becoming the ideal career choice for many employees and companies The traditional workplace isn’t for everyone, with its rows of cubicles, office noise, and breakroom buzz. For employees with transportation or mobility challenges, or those who need flexible schedules to achieve a better work-life balance, a work at home job and career brings many advantages, from lower costs for vehicle and meal expenses to improved productivity. Direct from the front lines of the HGS Canada Work@Home program comes this testimonial from Lead Associate, Mandy Spencer: “I’ve cut down my transportation costs significantly since I started working from home. I have more time for my family. The support at HGS is fantastic. It feels like you're never alone.” Working from home brings many advantages for businesses as well, such as: lower attrition and absenteeism rates, seasonal staffing capabilities, and cost containment. Today’s work-at-home business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions have evolved from a flexible option for employees to a strategic staffing solution for companies. BPOs bring key advantages—from attracting and retaining the right talent to addressing seasonal challenges and business continuity planning.
Over the past decade, telecommuting has increased by 115%—that’s almost 3% of the U.S. workforce, as reported by Global Workforce Analytics and FlexJobs. In Canada, the work-at-home agent market in the contact centre industry is undergoing a resurgence, with a robust, less constrained labour pool. As hiring, staffing, and attrition are some of the biggest obstacles in the customer care industry, this is one trend that will continue to grow in the next couple of years. We talked to our Director of Strategic Partnerships with HGS, Marco Colaiacovo, about the HGS Work@Home program and about the virtual work surge for the contact centre industry in Canada.
Q 1: Why has there been such a revival of virtual work, especially for contact centres, in Canada?
Marco: Speaking for HGS, our Work@Home program has had a strong launch in Canada because the solution 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. We have experienced significant growth in our Work@Home agent team, with equally strong interest from our clients. In six months, our program has attracted approximately 300 virtual team members. Simply put, I think it’s because we’re good at what we do for both our staff and our clients. A total 75% of our clients have been with us for more than 10 years. We have earned the opportunity to expand, because we have long-term relationships with our clients and are on a strong growth trajectory with them. By opening up our Canadian recruiting footprint, we’re bringing tremendous benefits to our Work@Home employees—including cost savings of $3,500 to $4,000 a year. For our clients, we bring a team of skilled agents to provide exceptional service to their customers We’re serving Canada in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan with plans to expand. We bolster the rural communities with work -at-home opportunities that keep people in their communities, and with work and a career that has long-term prospects.
Q2: How is contact centre work well suited for people who want to work from home?
Marco: Our HGS Work@Home customer service agents provide help to our clients’ customers offering support and service requests via phone and, hopefully in the future, for a chat solution. This can all be done with a telephone, computer, and internet access. HGS supplies the computer, headset, technology, and infrastructure. All employees need to supply to work from home is a high-speed internet connection, a features-free phone line (analog – not a wireless or VOIP phone), and a private work space. Where you live does not really matter as long as you can access high-speed internet. These are items most people have, or can easily acquire, in order to start working from home. HGS makes it very easy to begin working as a home agent. We provide our home agents with paid training, which is done from the comfort of an employee’s home. We’re finding out, more and more, that this at-home, quiet environment is well-suited to the customer care focus required of our team members. Our Work@Home program offers all employees access to a team leader and weekly team meetings held online, as well as support to ensure they can provide the best service possible to clients. So even though they may be physically working from home alone, they are not left alone without support.
Q3: What are some of the pros and cons for the employees when working from home?
Marco: Our HGS Work@Home team members experience many benefits, including: enhanced work/life balance, spending more time with family by eliminating travel time to and from work, significant cost savings from reduced meals/coffee/transportation expense, and increased flexibility and control of scheduling. I will say that Work@Home isn’t for everyone. We go to great lengths to ensure we hire people ideally suited to this work. During our interview process, we share a checklist of qualities that fit with this work. We ask questions like, “Has the candidate discussed this with family, and do they have their support?” We ask whether candidates have a quiet work area, and we make sure they understand this is not a substitute for daycare. We advise candidates to review this checklist with their family members. HGS Work@Home does not target for employment a typical age or gender demographic. We hire based on attributes that make a successful employee. Those employees who are a good fit are good communicators who are self-disciplined and self-motivated—in general they are self-starters. Some examples of “good-fit” employees have been military spouses, students, or those with social anxiety or mobility challenges.
Q4: How does Work@Home affect employee engagement?
Marco: From virtual training to career development and on-the-job coaching, HGS Work@Home team members are always connected and part of a virtual community. We employ state-of-the-art video support and interactive training, which we have seen enables strong community, bonding, and friendships among our team members. On a daily basis, our team members communicate with us using this technology, and they also have staff meetings with their teams and leaders. In general, the HGS Work@Home program keeps our employees happy at their jobs—which benefits them and clients, both. Typically, HGS Work@Home provides substantially reduced attrition—at a target of 25% to 50%--much less than the industry average for this type of work. It all comes down to the fact that this work is a good fit, in terms of meeting the needs of our home agent’s family and life schedules.
Q5: How have clients responded since Work@Home launched in Canada?
Marco: Our Work@Home clients include a major telecom company, and according to a recent audit, our solution scored highly from both a security and compliance perspective. They were confident in our data security, infrastructure, and tech support. We’ve seen early strong results for our clients’ Net Promoter Scores. In fact, one program shows a 9-point NPS gain after our Work@Home solution was launched for their program. These numbers tell a good story, and that is—happy, engaged employees delivering stellar service to our clients’ customers. The HGS Work@Home program is a win for all involved—our clients, their customers, and our employees. We look forward to bringing our HGS Work@Home solution to the growing list of clients who are increasingly asking for this type of support . If you are looking to apply to one of our Work from Home programs, please visit JoinHGS.com at http://joinhgs.com/#/workAtHome) and get started by submitting an application or chatting online directly with one of our recruiters.For businesses with questions, please visit http://dev.teamhgs.com/we-want-hear-you. For Media inquiries, please go to http://dev.teamhgs.com/contact-us/media-relations.