People in many parts of the world are changing how and where they want to work, and it is nowhere more evident than in the United States. Flexible working is the #1 new benefit being offered by employers, according to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.
Yes, technology continues to drive the pace, but growing in prominence, employees are raising their expectations for workplace-specific technology. Workers value cutting edge technology above most other perks, per the Work in Progress 2016 survey facilitated by Adobe.
While "working from anywhere " creates it's own set of challenges, it is here to stay, led by specific segments and job functions where work is transactional in nature populations are large.
So where are the big impacts, the high volume payoffs in virtual working? What are the pitfalls and challenges companies are facing?
Mobile, social, video, web conferencing and chat have all influenced the way that we get work done. While we still use email and we still use instant messaging, we are seeing many modes of interactions blending together, such as Slack, Yammer and Socialcast. Some business communication experts believe that we'll reduce the number of channels or modes we use to communicate, and automate more along the way (i.e. automations to manual monthly reports, expense reports, travel documents).
Highly transactional, densely populated work groups like contact centers have had exceptional results utilizing the remote working environment, both full-time and part-time. Companies maintain the exact same visibility of output of home workers as their in-house counterparts. For the most part, they use the exact same the same technologies. The only significant change is in digital tools that employees use to learn, and share knowledge/experiences, and these tools are being implemented in office anyway, because they're more efficient.
There are a number of incremental benefits that highly transactional groups are seeing from expanded use of the work at home model:
- Staffing and overall labor cost improvements (staggered start times, shorter shifts, and split shifts), reduce overall labor cost reduction by 15-25% (2014-2016 CCS Remote Working Benchmarking Survey).
- Disaster recovery and on demand staffing are both significantly more effective in managing volume due to inclement weather staffing shortages, and unplanned spikes in volume.
- Employee satisfaction is 10-20% higher, leading to better attendance (25% improvement in unplanned absenteeism) and employee retention (trends of 30% improvement 2011-2016, CCS Remote Working Benchmarking Survey).
On the downside, companies that invite workers in more traditional jobs to
work remotely for some or all of their work schedule sometimes struggle to gain visibility of output, and find that collaboration can suffer. Both can be overcome, but it requires investments in technology, management muscle and cultural shift that a lot of companies fail to think through or plan for before the launch their remote working programs.
Customer Contact Strategies is holding a Work at Home Conference in Laguna Beach, CA, November 16-17. It's two days of deep dive discussions on remote work, a number of great speakers/case studies, and really meaningful benchmarking.