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What’s Wrong with a Virtual Workforce? As It Turns Out, Quite a Bit - Mark Fichera - Blog

What’s Wrong with a Virtual Workforce? As It Turns Out, Quite a Bit

One of the most important ways in which call center services providers can be categorized is premise-based vs. virtual.  That is, those whose employees work at a brick-and-mortar call center facility over against those whose staffs work from home.

Overall, virtual employment has grown quickly in recent years, up 73 percent since 2008, according to a study by globalworkplaceanalytics. It’s particularly prevalent in the call center industry for vendors trying to hold down their costs or boost profits.

But even as new technology enables workers and companies to remain hyper-connected, a new study indicates that the virtual staffing model has significant drawbacks. A recent article in Forbes magazine offers insights into virtual/on-site trade-offs. Yes, some employees are happier and more productive working from home. But in the larger scheme of things, the advantages of premise-based outweigh the downside, chiefly in the areas of teamwork and knowledge sharing.

To quote from the article: “A healthy organization has a culture that allows the sharing of values and ideas, the formation of a corporate identity, and the sense of competitive urgency that allows a company to be agile and innovative.” And this can only be accomplished when people are working in physical proximity.

In addition, “working from home can fail to fire up remote workers in the same way as a shared company environment.”

This refers to the crucial element of collaboration and the creation of innovative ideas that happens when employees talk to each other, swap suggestions and building on each others’ thoughts.

Concludes Forbes, “…teleworking generally doesn’t work well, because corporations still haven’t solved the issues of remote learning, knowledge sharing, or firing up ideas. If that ‘magic’ is to happen, you still need office face-time.”

These insights apply to the call center industry.  Teams of representatives, working in dedicated or shared teams on inbound customer service/order processing or outbound lead generation and appointment setting, work best when they work in collaboration. Agents and program managers can swap experiences, compare best practices and share ideas in team meetings. All of this invaluable activity is impeded, or eliminated, by agents working from home, with the client hurt by the loss of collaboration.

Mark Fichera, CEO
Beverly, MA

Publish Date: August 7, 2013 5:03 PM

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