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Last week, Dizzion attended the 2017 Remote Working Summit (RWS) in Dallas. It was great getting to spend time with companies that are at all stages of implementing remote working and work at home programs – from those that have fully embraced the approach to organizations that have dipped their toes in the water and liked what they’ve experienced so far. The two-day event was filled with insights, best practices and general thoughts from both the attendees running these programs and the solution vendors helping those organizations achieve success.
In case you couldn’t make it to RWS17, here are some key takeaways about the drivers behind the growing remote working trend and what needs these organizations are still facing.
Many of the driving factors behind the attendees embracing remote working will be familiar to many organizations. The main reason that kept coming up was the simple need to scale quickly. Whether it’s the ability to support seasonal spikes or the peace of mind that the company can ramp up quickly to match an un-predicted demand jump, having fast access remote workers is a simple and cost-effective solution.
Another commonly mentioned driver is the ability to access more and better talent. Taking the geographic boundaries off the hiring process gives companies better access to talent, often resulting in significantly larger applicant pools that allow the organization to be more selective. This comes in particularly handy for companies that find themselves in densely populated areas where they face stiff competition for high-quality employees. It also allows businesses to tap into eager and able workers who cannot commute for a variety of reasons.
Work at home models also have the interesting side effect of making call center jobs more appealing. While the mental image of a call center often isn’t pleasant, companies that allow for remote working are finding that individuals are willing to be “customer service reps” as long as they don’t consider themselves “call center reps.” Around this topic, conference attendees where sharing tips and experiences about how to connect with this remote workforce and ensure work at home employees feel appreciated and connected to the corporation as a whole.
There was also lively discussion around cloud solutions as some organizations that are moving toward work at home models are looking to outsource additional tasks. One of the biggest drivers here is the desire to get out of the “internal fulfillment” business. Organizations are eager for any solution that allows them to stop stocking warehouses of laptops and spending thousands shipping those devices to remote workers only to recover a faction of the devices. It’s a logistical nightmare and not a great use of resources and companies are eager to solve for this problem.
A familiar theme dominated the conference among both attendees who have implemented remote working and those who are in the process of growing their programs: security. We’ve seen this theme come up at Customer Engagement Summit 2016 and LegalTech and Peter Ryan recently highlighted it as the current major hurdle for contact centers.
With the increasing prevalence of data breaches and the massive fines that can result, organizations are understandably concerned about security. Allowing for remote workers can heighten that anxiety as the employees aren’t in an environment that is perceived to be as secure (like an office). One interesting tidbit from RWS should help organizations that are concerned about the security of remote working find a little comfort. Jim Farnsworth, an EVP at Sykes, shared with attendees that the instances of fraud and data theft are much lower with work at home agents than in brick and mortar locations. Security and controls need to be addressed and organizations that promote remote working are actively seeking solutions, but this concern shouldn’t be a show stopper for any company considering a work at home program.
The theme of compliance – a cousin topic of security – also came up. It’s vital for any organization that handles payment card data or personal health information to abide by strict compliance standards. Organizations are eager for solutions that help them achieve the same level of compliance with remote workers as they can with on-site instances. For some companies, the ability to ensure remote employees are working within a compliant digital environment may even be the deal breaker when it comes to remote working.
The last theme that repeatedly caught my attention was the conversation around softphone and telephony integration for at home workers. Companies adopting work at home models want to extend this technology to their remote employees, but are still struggling with how to do so and there’s still a lot of discussion around best practices and available solutions in this regard.
I spend a lot of time talking to BPOs, the clients that hire them for customer experience support and the solution providers that help the everyday operations run smoothly. Remote working is definitely a fast growing trend among this subset of businesses and it’s heartening to see that some client companies are pushing the industry as a whole to keep up with this workforce trend.
Allowing for work at home employees can help organizations reduce attrition, gain access to more and better talent and attain a range of additional benefits. Any organization interested in adopting this model should look to those who have gone before, attend to the new RWS to learn about real world experiences and advice, and seek out solution providers uniquely positioned to support the needs or remote workers and their employers. See you at the next Remote Working Summit!
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