Are You Really Working from Home?

For a long time, the phrase “I’m working from home” has generated considerable scepticism. Those who work from home claim it can significantly increase efficiency and productivity. Those in the office often have highly negative views regarding such claims.

Now, new research suggests the sceptics are wrong and that those working from home enjoy the benefits claimed. The research “Does working from home work? Evidence from a Chinese experiment” by Bloom et al (2012) was based on a study of customer service agents working for a travel company in China. Normally, the agents would work in a call centre, but remote login and registration is also possible, thanks to a hosted deployment model.

To avoid any selection bias, agents were randomly selected for a trial and their progress tracked over time. The employees chosen were given the opportunity to work from home for four days each week during the trial period. The results should confound sceptics everywhere.

In the trial group, performance levels (in terms of key metrics such as the number of calls answered) showed a clear improvement, up by as much as 13% according to the authors, even allowing for normal variation within a cohort. Better still, this led to an increase in the number of orders booked, as conversion rates remained the same. This is a clear financial benefit that can also be bolstered by cost savings that accrue from not supporting the agents on site.

But the benefits were not just financial – remote agents spent longer working but had a reduced leave of absence. In other words, they weren’t off sick as much. Finally, the staff retention rates among the remote agents showed a distinct improvement, saving further costs in an industry that is well known for high levels of attrition.

It seems clear remote working, far from being the easy option, generates significant benefits for employers and employee alike. Even in intensive occupations such as a call centre, employers can increase revenue and reduce costs while stressed workers can benefit from increased satisfaction and loyalty.

The industry has been making positive claims regarding home workers for a long time. Finally, academic research appears to be validating them.

Our solutions enable a wide range of flexible employment models, enabling workers to access the same capabilities irrespective of location. Service providers can deploy advanced, scalable contact centre and Mobile PBX solutions that generate proven benefits and increase efficiency.


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