Forrester says that 34 million Americans work from home at least occasionally today and 63 million will in 2016.
I am one of those 34 million today. I save 2 hours of commute time, which becomes extra work time. I save 70 miles (gas, wear and tear on the car) each day I work at home. And I save a bridge toll.
You can read Ted Schadler's summary of this Forrester report.
Maybe this isn't what Marissa Mayer thinks Yahoo! needs as a company today, although others just think it is a way to reduce headcount without a formal layoff.
We agree with Forrester's research. This is a real trend. Of course, it has to be managed if it is going to be done right. I have had employees that I let telecommute liberally. I have had employees that I let telecommute occasionally. And I have had employees that I would not let telecommute at all. Each case was different and depended on various factors including their track records and need to collaborate face to face at the drop of a hat.
Would I let my contact center workers telecommute? Absolutely. In fact, that is a prime area where it makes sense. Here's why:
- Contact centers try to locate in areas of low wages but with a well-educated workforce.
- As an area gets a good reputation for contact centers, competition for the local labor force grows quickly.
- Turnover and re-training are major costs for contact centers.
- Geographically distributed workers are immune to these pressures.
And some of the past issues that may have limited telecommuting are becoming less and less relevant. Case in point: My home Comcast broadband connection totally outperforms our office network (I check it almost daily with www.speedtest.net). I have used the ServicePattern Outbound Voice product with the built-in PC-based softphone with crystal-clear connections. Here's information on a free tool you can use to assess employee ISP suitability for work-at-home VOIP.
Of course, there are many issues to be considered when setting up a remote home-based contact center, but it is good to know that you can use a solution like ServicePattern with nothing more that a browser and broadband!