And why you should consider working remotely
By: Sarah Wetzel
There are many names for remote working out there: telecommuting, telework, work from home, work at home, virtual office – the list goes on. At 5CA, we call this Work from Home, or WFH for short.
Though the acronym is rarely used in public forums (when I posted the acronym on Facebook, my friends started listing phrases like “watch for hairballs” …), the concept itself is already hugely adapted in many companies around the world. Based on a study last year by PwC, 38% of US workers have the option to work from home at least once a year, compared to the 9% of workers in 1995. Based on that upward trend, many are deciding that an entirely home-based job is more desirable than an in-office job. Already convinced? The next question is what industry you’re going to find this pajama-friendly position up for grabs. The answer: Customer Service.
It’s a People-First industry.
Have you ever heard a business person say, “Customer service is not a necessity”? Not likely. Customer service is a never-fail resource that will always have a place in any business. We see it evolving as new technology becomes available, with the introduction of chat bots on social media sites, and many Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools moving to the cloud to make room for expansion, but people are still the key to what makes a business’s customer service work. It’s also one of the best industries to test new people management tactics.
The bulk of customer service teams are highly-productive groups of creative, quick-thinking agents, and making sure they have everything they need to work at that rate is extremely important. For that reason, ‘work from home’ is an enticing incentive to customer support advisors and easily accommodatable by management to create a comfortable atmosphere in a bustling environment.
Customer Service is (usually) 24/7 and speaks many languages.
Medium to large businesses understand that customer service is to be expected where their products are being sold. That being said, it’s not always possible to put an office in every time zone. That’s where the virtual office comes in handy. Being able to recruit work from home agents allows for companies to cover multiple time zones, and even multiple languages. Not only that, it also opens doors to those seeking work from home opportunities in most parts of the world, which they might not have found locally. At 5CA we proudly work with people from over 35 different countries, many of whom work from home – the proof is in the pudding!
The tools make it possible.
With many businesses shifting to this WFH model, technology has also evolved to fit the model. Now you can securely do your work through a browser without needing to install extra software (in most cases). VPNs and cloud-based technology create a remote work environment similar to that of what you might expect in an office. Think communication might be an issue working from home? Think again! The number of tools that facilitate visual and written communication is constantly growing – Skype, Whatsapp, Slack, Jive, Yammer, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Facebook, Workplace by Facebook, Outlook… and that’s only a small fraction of the tools out there!
Customers are remote – why can’t you be?
When was the last time you visited the customer service booth of a company you purchased from? Maybe a week or two ago you had to return an unwanted gift from Christmas. Perhaps you had to get refunded for those stale cookies you bought at the grocery store. But most likely, those are the only instances where you might get in-person customer service.
Nowadays, you send an email to the help address of your cell phone provider, or tweet at the local pizza delivery shop, or phone the plumber to let him know the pipe he replaced is leaking. If customers are reaching out to businesses virtually, why can’t support specialists answer virtually? That’s why many businesses are taking advantage of the trend, and the overhead cost savings are the cherry to top it off!
Part-time is more widely accepted in customer service.
At 5CA, we’re frequently recruiting for part-time positions in-office and work from home. Part-time positions are enticing to people in many different positions – moms and dads who only want to send their young kids to daycare for half a day; entrepreneurs who need a more secure job on the side to stay afloat; recent graduates who want to learn more about certain industries like technology, video gaming, and consumer electronics (see Job Openings at 5CA); or customer service professionals who just want to work 20 hours a week instead of 40.
It’s much more difficult to find part-time positions in other industries. Combine that with the work-from-home option and there’s even less opportunity. I’m here to tell you that the jobs do exist, and you’re probably going to find them in this industry. A study by Emergent Research and Intuit predicts that by 2020, 40% of workers will be part-time. Will you be one of them?
So here’s a quick tip:
If you’re considering finding a new job that permits you to work from home, my first piece of advice is to do your research. Depending on your skillset, there might be a more suitable industry for you to find a virtual position, but in my own experience at 5CA, we not only have customer support advisors working from home, but also business analysts, project managers, and quality analysts that telecommute from time to time. The opportunities you find will depend on how much effort you put forth in finding the right job for you.