Home Office For Your Support Representatives – Yes or No?

Should they or shouldn’t they work from home? This question seems to be troubling many business owners these days. So few are able to balance the pros and cons to reach an agreeable situation.

It all started with support services staff whose physical presence at the office no longer seemed a must. The reason being was that the staff had little to no face-to-face contact with clients. And this kind of work could have been done from home.

Some such positions include personal assistants, data entry staff or telemarketers. The basic idea was to allow staff working from home while maintaining communication with managers by phone or by being online.

Remote work for support representatives has its pros and cons. Here are a few tips to help you decide.Click to Tweet

Like in most situations, there are advantages and disadvantages for your support staff to work from home.

Let’s start with the Pros

Savings, savings, and savings

Whether you like the idea of your staff working from home or not, you cannot deny the substantial savings on transportation costs, work meals, office space, and possibly even unwanted expenses like personal telephone calls made from the office.

There are couple of solutions helping companies “compensate” a physical office. Internal chat rooms such as Hipchat or Slack are especially popular. Instead of going into the office, people log into the chat room in the morning and chat there.

There are some lesser known systems too. Sqwiggle, for example, is helping companies by staying in touch visually. Mount a large screen on the wall in the office and be able to communicate with any remote workers working from home.

Better hiring

In today’s fast-paced environment, some of the best employees still list “flexibility of working hours” as one of their greatest concerns. When giving out job offers, the option to work from home would make a proposal all the more attractive and might just land you an A- Player needing to balance work and home.

Zapier offers an excellent read how to build a remote team.

Improve your staff morale

A happy employee is a productive employee. This will also translate into staff retention for your business. We all know the high cost of recruitment, training and retention. Adding this small perk to the job, means better performance from your people and a lesser probability of them leaving.

How can your startup attract A-players? Offer remote work arrangements. More on this in the article.Click to Tweet

It’s great PR

Having a reputation as a company that allows its people to work from home will give you a great reputation as an employer with trusted staff and as a company that understands and respects people’s needs for a balanced life.

Basecamp uses remote work as an excellent form of PR. They have even published a book on this topic and profile themselves as a great place to work – remotely.

Easier expansion

Growing companies embracing the idea of remote workers are also companies finding it easier to step into new markets and expand globally. By starting a well-distributed workplace in your local area, you too can use the same techniques to expand globally.

It all sounds great so far but we have to look at the disadvantages too.

The disadvantages

Employee resentment

When a company chooses to offer the option of home office to some staff members, it usually cannot pass that luxury onto everyone, due to some employees needing to be present at the office. This can create resentment between staff.

Lack of focus

More often than not, people who choose a home office job are doing so because they have children at home. While the situation may be ideal, it may cause a major distraction during the day for the staff themselves.

Technology issues

A major concern for all business is whether or not their remote employees have the proper equipment to keep up with the work load such as computers and an excellent internet connection. This can be solved with the company providing the staff with laptops and a dependable internet solution.

Trust

Last but not least, the issue of trust. Many companies completely avoid remote staffing because they do not believe people will do a full day’s work from home as they would in the office.

The pros and cons all seem important and relevant. It is not all so black and white of course. Companies who wish to take advantage of the pros while eliminating the cons need to establish a few ground rules.

Challenge for managers with remote workers: finding and implementing clear KPI’s.Click to Tweet

The first would be to manage both on-site and off-site employees in the same way, so that both understand they are equally accountable for their work, regardless of their location.

Other rules that could be applied:

  • Proof of work through videos, photos or even an on-site visit to homes
  • Specific terms and conditions in the home employee contract
  • Key performance indicators helping better control of daily deliverables
  • Proper working attire required for home staff for video conferences

With a few simple rules you and your company can take remote staffing to a whole new level. All by taking advantage of the pros and eliminating as many of the cons as possible.

Niki Vajdova

Marketing Intern

Student at Faculty of management - Comenius University in Bratislava.

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