While I am certain that in some cases allowing an employee to work from home would work, I believe that we may be taking it too far.
Recently I was doing business with my bank and had to be transferred to a specialist. “Due to the overwhelming response all agents are busy, please hang on.”
After about five minutes of being on hold the phone is finally answered. The girl that handled the call was somewhat disorganized and I know this as she ask me for the same information several times as she most likely was stalling while she got to the right screen or possibly off of Facebook.
Between the pauses I could hear a baby crying in the background. I am not sure that allowing people to work at home with many distractions is a good idea however; commercial offices are sold or rented by the square foot. The amount each department is charged is allocated by the square footage that they occupy. Electricity used is divided up the same way. I.e. if sales uses X square footage and accounting uses X and IT uses X that is all split up so the bean counters can accurately assess the cost for each department or cost center.
Many companies are trying to cut cost by having people share a desk, meaning that they work from home so many days, then the other person works from home. Personally I think this idea is really poor as your phone, keyboard and lets face it; every surface is a harbor for germs. The phone especially as it is close to your nose and mouth. In this day of bacteria and viruses that are mutating and becoming resistant to the antibiotics that we have, I don’t think it a good idea to provide yet another way to transfer them.
So what kinds of folks could work from home? I think people who are self starters. There are folks out there who look forward to Monday. I know this as I am one of them. While most can’t wait for Friday to roll around I am one that looks at the clock not to see how much more time that I must endure but, how little time I have left to complete what I wanted to get done that day.
That is a self starter. That person could work out of their car or where ever. My office was the airplane and airport for years.
I mention this as I doubt that the bank had an excessive surge of calls today and I doubt that the cable company does every time that I call etc. While some of this may be to understaffing I suspect some of this is people being distracted at a home office.
Customer service is part of your brand much like the poor customer service at HP is iconic of what not to do and has been immortalized in shows like Big Bang and of course the ever famous YouTube video where the Marine shoots his printer with an automatic weapon, as his HP support was so bad.
Whether your company is public or private you must protect your brand. Think carefully about where your employees do their job and what kinds of employees are able to work from home.
Think really hard about outsourcing your customer service to “Peggy!”
-Best to you and those that you care about!