At the present time there is an estimated 100,000 home-based phone representatives employed throughout the United States. According to predictions made by the Gartner Group, it is believed that by the end of 2006 approximately ten percent of all call centers scattered throughout the United States will be relying on the skills and services of work at home call center agents for the widespread success of their businesses.
Call centers are becoming a bigger and better industry all of the time. They comprise a large percentage of the customer service work that many companies engage in. In a general way a call center refers to a variety of actual business functions, ranging from call centers designed to handle customer calls, tech support systems, help desks, or even outbound customer call agents. Call center agents (work at home or on site employees) are trained to manage many 'call'-types, including regular telephone inquiries, faxes, e-mails and web requests.
Many call centers find that costs are lowered and the overall efficiency of a business is increased when work is home sourced out to work at home call center agents. Also referred to as working remotely these at home or remote agents often are more productive and happier and also report greater levels of job satisfaction than those who work in other capacities. Walking hand in hand with these positive characteristics is the fact that work at home call center agents tend to be loyal to their companies and not as likely to be jumping from job to job. In a lot of ways these agents get the best of both worlds - they get to have their cake and eat it too.
A remote agent is loosely defined as a call center or help desk employee working away from the main office, either occasionally or full-time. Some people simply think of work at home call center agents as telecommuters who do their work from their own home instead of in the office.
Call centers that make the decision to institute a remote agent program experience many benefits from giving their employees the opportunity to be work at home call center agents. These benefits include the necessity for less office space (which is a definite money saver); the ability to both bring in and hold onto key agents; voice communication via the telephone when a work emergency should arise; constant support and feedback between employer and agent; a link from office to office and the ability for the company to hire temporary and seasonal staff as well as disabled individuals. Finally working from home has been shown through a variety of studies to increase levels of productivity and to allow for easier flexibility for scheduling work hours for agents.