This post has been contributed by Working Solutions, a popular company offering work-from-home customer service roles. Please visit their site for current openings and requirements.
Remote workforces are the new normal. Corporate confines no longer define how and where jobs get done. This flexibility liberates employers and workers, provided they prepare for it and perform.
Global Workplace Analytics reports the number of persons who regularly work from home has grown by 103% between 2005 and 2016. It’s estimated 3.7 million employees work there at least half of the time. And this number does not include the self-employed.
In this brave new world, companies seek brave new workers. Those with much desired, industry-specific skills. The contact center services industry is one such market. Here, thousands of independent contractors, who can represent brands faithfully and serve customers well, are in high demand.
Having a Work-from-home Mindset
Those who consider working from home need to ask themselves if they have the personality, skills and discipline required. “The trick to working from home effectively is self-understanding,” writes the author of a Fast Company article, “Do You Have the Right Personality to Work from Home?”
She points out it makes no difference if you’re an introvert or extrovert—or what your type is. It’s more about learning to adapt your personality to this fluid work environment.
Working from home obviously requires self-discipline since no one will be there looking over your shoulder and prodding you—at least not physically. But beyond personality are skills, experience and aptitude.
In a recent study, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) reviews the customer service industry worldwide. HBR reports that, among the many different service rep profiles, customers want ones who can take command of a situation and get things done. These are the Controllers. But the most prevalent type—and the one that managers prefer—is the Empathizer, the person who likes to listen to and help others.
Do Your Due Diligence
Obviously, there are many scams among the work-from-home opportunities. But beyond these scams, know that some legitimate opportunities ask for a monthly fee or payment for training. And some don’t.
Establishing job legitimacy is just the first step in your search. You also should investigate a company’s culture. Find out how employees and contractors are treated. Learn if the workstyle fits your lifestyle.
Glassdoor, a respected company review site, is a great place to find some of this information. For instance, reviews there recently rated contact center services provider Working Solutions up to four stars, based on its culture and values, work-life balance and senior leadership.
A Place that Invests in You
A company that values its remote workforce is one that wants to stay in business for the long term. That includes investments in the recruiting, onboarding and ongoing development of workers.
For its part, Working Solutions expends a great deal of energy, as well as capital, in finding the right agents for the job, developing their skills and ensuring they are ready to serve a client’s customers.
We engage agents through online instruction, role-playing and gamification. Our portal, VYNE, keeps agents in touch with each other and management. Also, chief executive Kim Houlne conducts YouTube business updates and regional meetings throughout the year. All to make agents successful at their jobs.
Matching Cultural Values
Probably the most important factor in deciding where to work is a company’s culture. Especially in a virtual workplace, where culture makes all the difference in a from-home worker’s satisfaction and success.
If considering a work-from-home position, ask if a call center is more interested in just filling seats—or in becoming an extension of the client’s brand. If it’s just warm bodies, morale suffers. As HBR quotes a retail company service leader: “We’re not running a contact center here. It’s more like a factory of sadness.”
But if a company’s culture is grounded in care, everybody wins. Working Solutions founder Houlne explains this way: “If you show and feel genuine interest for your team or community, immediately you find the level of respect for clients and other team members increases. You also will find business results increase and the team is honestly happy with each other’s success.”
Been There, Doing That
Talking to others who have experienced the opportunity you’re interested in can reveal volumes. Not only can they provide details about the job itself, but also what it’s like working for their companies.
Here are a couple of interview excerpts from an agent and an educator who enjoy their jobs as remote workers for Working Solutions.
Annalee finds fulfillment at Working Solutions, where her experience in healthcare, communications and consumer services is valued. When asked why she joined the company, she’s quick to answer: “They know your name, you’re not a number. They care about your welfare and give you the training to succeed.” Annalee said project managers check on her and ask about the family. And she even exchanges Christmas gifts with other agents she’s never met. That support and caring carries through in her work with client customers.
Jennifer, an elementary school teacher, had just had her first baby and decided to stay home. Soon after, she realized she needed to find another job. Browsing a site for work-at-home moms, Jennifer found a list of contact center positions—and applied to them all. After hearing back from Working Solutions, she called her mother to say it sounded like a dream job. Jennifer initially worked as an independent contractor and online instructor. Now an employee, she has worked more than 11 years for the company, teaching agents and designing curriculum—all from home.
Whether it is profiles posted on a corporate site or reviews on Glassdoor, it pays to learn from firsthand worker experience and perspectives. All the better for making informed decisions about choosing the most appropriate work-from-home jobs.