One of the biggest obstacles in setting up and sustaining telework programs--including work-at-home-agents (WAHAs) ---is obtaining supervisor and manager buy-in.
Too many of these individuals still practice oversight in the same way that the Greeks and Romans ensured performance of their galleys: only with virtual monetary whips for in reality a comparable scale of earnings and benefits.
Oh well so much for all the tens of thousands of dollars spent in performance management and QA tools, and lesser sums in IM, e-mail, 'whisper' features and audio and web conferencing tools.
At the same time too many organizations try and practice corporate togetherness and collegiality--amidst layoffs, closure, hours cutbacks, benefit cuts, wage freezes (and rumors of such), lousy supervision, high turnover, not to mention the crazed callers--and their managers fear that by hiring and sending agents home these poor souls will feel somehow left out....
No worries there. Ask most WAHAs if they had the choice of going to or back to forced-water-cooler chats with the guy from the next cube row, whose eyes are performing the equivalent of the new airport scanners and free cold grease-drenched pizza in the break room... and keeping the car in the driveway and putting the workshirt and the !#$%-hose in the garbage bags to go to the Sally Ann...well it doesn't take a Ph.D to figure out the answer...
OK, it may not be as bad as that, there are great offices and contact centers out there, but even in the best of environs being at home trumps them...
There, is however, an answer to getting manager buy-in to make work-at-home and that is offering them the same benefits i.e. offer them the ability to work from home too.
I asked Bill Durr, Principal Global Solutions Consultant, Verint® Witness Actionable Solutions "Are at-home supervisors feasible and recommended? If not, why not? If so, what are the best practices in enabling them to schedule and coach agents: whether they are on-premises or at their homes?"
Bill replied: "At-home supervisors are not only feasible, but may become increasingly necessary. If the home agent population grows according to most projections, it's only natural that supervisors will follow. What sense would it make to have all agents working from home while all the supervisors go into the office? I suggest that the technology enables supervisors to be as effective in a virtual environment as they are in a physical environment."
Bill does offer, in fairness, some caution. "However, emerging best practices for remote supervisors lie mostly in their ability to communicate effectively via e-mail, phone and web cam interactions. And frankly, that's not as easy as it sounds."
I'm not so sure about that. I've worked from home for most of my career, with supervisors and managers also working from different locations at varying times.
If a firm hires the right people both employees and supervisors, set expectations, track performance, get ahold of staff when they are not meeting the standards to point them in the right direction and follow then what difference does it make where they are? A word or two has just as much meaning if written in a text or uttered in a call as it does when the accompanying breaths can be felt on your neck. And they can be delivered at much less cost compared with housing everyone in the same room.