UK businesses plan to increase the use of home workers as a flexible and cost-effective way to handle rising volume of customer service enquiries, according to new research by the Customer Contact Association (CCA) in partnership with Plantronics.
CCA conducted a survey on home working trends among its members which include many of Britain’s biggest companies across a wide range of industry sectors as well as major public sector employers.
The survey found that 59% of respondents have either already begun to use home workers, are currently running trials or are investigating the potential to adopt home working in future. It also revealed that 61% of the organisations already using home workers plan to increase their home working activities in future.
CCA Chief Executive Anne Marie Forsyth said: “We are on the brink of a home working revolution in customer contact as an increasing proportion of the UK’s biggest businesses have begun using home workers to achieve greater operational flexibility and reduce costs. We detect a shift in mindsets, partly caused by the difficult economic climate which has forced businesses to find innovative ways do more with less. It has led to a growing appreciation of home working as a flexible solution for coping with mobile and demanding customers making contact 24/7 across more channels than ever.”
Philip Vanhoutte, Senior VP and Managing Director E&A for Plantronics said: “For years contact centre leaders regarded home working as very marginal – the research shows that is no longer the case. Technology solutions have addressed data security concerns and successful pilots have shown the wide range of benefits that home working can deliver not just to the bottom line but for individuals seeking a better work-life balance, for rural communities seeking employment opportunities, and also for the environment and the economy. Plantronics has experienced these benefits first-hand in our own award-winning contact centre.”
The report, which includes case studies of successful home working operations, found that the average home worker is older, better-educated and possesses broader life skills and experience than the average contact centre worker, widening the recruitment talent pool.
It found that businesses have successfully used home workers to extend service hours, to scale up quickly in peak periods and to ensure business continuity when there are IT outages in centralised customer contact operations.