Homeshoring Brings Legitimate Work-at-Home Jobs Into American Homes
by Melissa Brewer
Imagine a commute that is just down the hallway, a few minutes from your favorite gourmet coffeepot and the Monday morning news. You plug in your headset to the phone, boot your computer, and begin taking calls for your client. After 30 minutes of call time, you move on to a scheduled break to tend to a few errands around the house.
You get another cup of coffee, finish a few small household tasks, and return to your desk to begin taking calls again. Your schedule is flexible, and you can have all the breaks you need from the comfort of your own home. You’re paid anywhere from $7.00 to $30.00 an hour, and you work not just the hours – but the minutes – that you choose.
Sound like another work from home scam? Or simply too good to be true? Think again. The rise of homeshoring employers has paved the way to legitimate work-from-home careers that allow flexibility for a whole new workforce – including work at home moms and dads, caretakers, military spouses, people with unique medical needs and the differently disabled.
Homeshoring, in its simplest form, is the use of home-based employees by businesses, big and small, to handle their call center functions effectively with the use of home-based workers. Homeshoring companies have made the decision to keep their call centers virtual – but within their own parameters, country and control.
Homeshoring moves jobs out of high-overhead call centers and into the homes of US workers, rather than out of the country. Homeshoring cuts costs, but not corners, when it comes to saving money and creating valuable contacts with customers.
So who hires home-based workers for their call centers?
Homeshoring companies range from outsourcing partners (such as Convergys and LiveOps) to large corporations looking to save operating costs for their call center components. Companies such as JetBlue send their workers home and have an added benefit when weather problems force call overflows – they can call on their home-based workers to pick up the slack. Other companies outsource their calls to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO's) firms such as Alpine Access or LiveOps.
Office Depot and Virginia Atlantic outsource their customer service needs to virtual agent call-center firms, which are often small or midsize businesses. The call centers then hire home-based workers or create independent contractor agreements. Some virtual call centers only hire home-based contractors with their own business set-up, so that their workers can operate under their own small corporations or LLC's.
Homeshoring also provides a flexible and adjustable workforce for companies that often are sent into chaos with call overflow. The flexibility work for employees, too. Often, a homeshoring agent can schedule work shifts in time periods as short as 15 minutes.
According to the Gartner group, 10% of all call centers in the US plan on employing home-based agents in the near future. There are currently 112,000 home-based agents in the U.S., according to IDC. By 2010, there 330,000 home-based workers are expected to be working in the US alone. Homeshoring is here to stay and is expected to become a standard practice for companies that need to find new ways to retain excellent employees at a fraction of the cost of maintaining a brick and mortar call center.