Whether you are a call center agent who can work remotely, or a call center supervisor with remote agents, the following is a rough guide of expectations, tips, and considerations. IVR, Interactive Voice Response, will route a call to an agent without regard to physical location. The IVR’s determining factor may be skills-based routing, but mainly dependent on whether an agent is available or not.
I’m not a call center agent, my job focuses on marketing and general webmaster duties. I’ve been working remotely since 2010. My experience will hopefully enlighten anyone considering taking the leap. There is little difference in working from home or a shared office space, the same discipline and technical challenges apply.
While it’s not in everyone’s personality to work alone, I’m a perfect fit. I don’t consider myself as much of an introvert as more of a hermit. I never liked the office environment, and throughout most of my life I managed to avoid them. A large part of my working career was in printing, a stressful, deadline-driven business. Being able to walk around a print shop with all the noise and the repetitive kachunk, kachunk of printing presses was great. Being able to follow my work through the many steps from pre-press to bindery always provided a sense of accomplishment. Plus, the smell of ink is a beautiful thing.
Separation of work and personal life
New Technology, Work and Employment states many remote workers find it harder to switch off. It’s essential to separate work and personal life whether you work in an office or not. Being “on” 24/7 is a shortcut to the afterlife. When you are not working, disconnect, literally, no email, no paperwork, no phone calls. I don’t have all the apps most people do on my phone, text or call, that’s all that’s required. When I leave my office at the end of the day, I am done. For remote workers, it helps to have a designated work space, be it an office or just a chair and desk in a quiet part of the house. Physically walking to and from that workspace is your commute, and provides a mental and physical separation between the two halves of your life.
It’s important to set boundaries and routine. I get up each morning at the same time, dress appropriately, make coffee and go to the office. My office is quiet, I can close the door to eliminate distractions when other people are in the house, or as a sign that I’m in a meeting. I leave the office for lunch and exercise. I work out at the local YMCA or go for a walk most days, weather permitting, then it’s back to work. When done for the day I leave my office until the next morning. Rinse and repeat. And when I’m working, this doesn’t mean I’m not available for the odd domestic emergency, like this summer when I had to rescue a chipmunk from the clutches of my cat, twice.
I do the bulk of my work on a desktop computer; it’s important to stand or sit upright at a desk. Posture is crucial because it creates a frame of mind, enhances focus, and helps segment time for certain tasks. Be sure to take breaks; we all know how bad sitting for long periods of time is, something I’m super-guilty of. Tied to the desktop is all the peripheral stuff, external hard drives, a Wacom tablet, phone charger, earbuds and speakers, stuff you generally don’t want to lug around with a laptop.
Away from the desk, the laptop (and couch) is convenient for long meetings, learning, reading, research, catching up on email, and of course, travel. Having both a desktop and laptop provides options for efficiency and comfort. Therefore, your technology needs to be synced, all your apps, logins and file sharing. Regardless, you’ll still run into the occasional glitch.
My office is not a mess. Working remotely doesn’t mean you should be any different than if you were maintaining appearances in an office environment. A clutter-free office and desk aids efficiency and productivity, and boosts contentment.
What do other people and businesses think?
Today there’s an abundance of statistics that quantify the benefits and positive value in working remotely. There is a ton of research, a ton, too much to go into in detail but I still want to provide a few highlights:
The state of remote work 2017 - https://www.owllabs.com/state-of-remote-work
- According to Owl Labs, companies that support remote work have a 25% lower employee turnover than companies that don’t.
- The level of investment and engagement in remote employees is higher than workers who split their time in and out of the office, and even higher than those who work in the office full time.
- What’s missed most by remote workers? 48% say conversation, another 40% say celebrations and parties. As I told a recent hire to our company, if I worked in the office, I’d be 40 pounds heavier just from all the cake and cookies available.
Boogie, a social media marketing company in Albany, NY, came to the conclusion that their money was best spent on employees, and not on office space and all that comes with it. They closed all three of their offices in Brooklyn and Troy, NY, and LA, and went totally remote.
Beforehand, 35% of their employees worked remotely, while 65% split their time between the office and working from home. With an unlimited vacation policy, many employees found themselves taking extended work-cations in exotic locations. Boogie didn’t leap right into a decision of such magnitude. They implemented a six week testing period and were able to quantify an increase in productivity which, as they put it, “sealed the deal.”
This post is continued in Part 2, which will cover:
- A connection to the Internet
- Communication with your team
- Time zones
- Tools that work
- Pros and Cons