Using HomeAgents is an attractive option for contact centre operators from both a cost and a flexibility point of view. But how do you ensure you are recruiting the right type of homeworker? Here are a few tips:
1. Be clear what an ideal candidate looks like
It may depend on what you do, the hours you require people to work, the skills required to do the job etc. but, in our opinion, the best homeworkers are often people who positively want to trade the many advantages of working in an office for flexibility and work-life-balance. Successful homeworkers are also typically self-starters, independent, disciplined, focused, engaged and responsible. Experience in a similar role may or may not be necessary, but previous contact centre experience is usually beneficial – and experience of homeworking or independent working is desirable.
2. Look for candidates in the right places
Today’s job market is very much candidate-driven – with recruitment firms often geared up to find and select the right candidates. But where should you be looking? In our experience, the best homeworkers are often: working mums, people who have a disability or are caring for others with a disability, have transport issues or live a long way from the office, get stressed working in a busy environment, are students looking for part time work etc. Use appropriate means of communication/advertising to reach them i.e. local papers, outplacement consultants, DWP/Job Centre Plus (in particular to target individuals with a disability), student publications, websites such as www.netmums.com, local radio and nursery noticeboards. Also consider referrals from existing homeworkers.
3. Be clear on what the role entails
Provide clarity on the role and set the right expectations. Homeworking is not ‘easier’ work. Make people aware of everything that is expected of them from providing equipment (if appropriate) to KPIs, health and safety issues, environmental and confidentiality considerations, back-up plans in the event of a technology failure etc. Be clear on your – and your homeworkers’ – expectations. Whether they end up liking it or not, a common complaint amongst homeworkers is ‘I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for’.
4. Full or hybrid homeworking?
Is the candidate required to work at home all of the time or some of the time? Are they able to (at least partially) self-select their own workday schedules? Will they have to come in to the office for recruitment interviews? Will training be conducted on-site or virtually? Or a combination of both? All these questions need to be considered and resolved before interviewing candidates.
5. What type of contract is most suitable?
Will the homeworker be fully employed by your organisation, or required to register for self-employment? If self-employed, do you need to consider confidentiality clauses within their contracts? Do they understand the tax implications of self-employment? Businesses need to be clear about operating models prior to the deployment of homeworkers to provide the structured basis on which contracting can be done. Be clear about the ownership and responsibility of equipment/ network access, especially if a ‘Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)’ or ‘use your own equipment and connectivity’ policy is in place. In practice, homeworking contracts can be substantially the same as an in-house contracts for customer service with a few additions/exceptions.
6. Ensure your remuneration policy is clear
Remuneration arrangements can be more complex for homeworkers, especially when individuals are required to be self-employed, work split shifts, earn commission on sales, work unsocial hours, are paid differently for handling different media types, or when they are only paid for the hours they are online and productive.
7. Use appropriate assessment tools
Tools that can be used for homeworking recruitment include: personality tests, competency-based questionnaires, and assessment days (either in-house or virtual). Assessment days provide a particularly useful opportunity to set the right expectations (see point 3).
8. Security checks and references
Standard approaches should be undertaken for taking on homeworkers, just as you would for any employee. This will typically involve DBS checks, credit checks, references, and policies and procedures for safeguarding PCI compliance/ Data Protection. While procedures and requirements should be virtually the same, organisations need to bear in mind that auditing remote workers will be different.
9. How will you engage your homeworkers?
How do you enable them to be productive and deliver work outputs to the standards required? Training is a key element, and it is important to communicate progress to homeworkers. This may also be linked to rewards and benefits. Most companies will provide a choice of benefits and career progression plans that is transparent to all, but can be tailored to individuals according to performance.
Your communication approach is also key. Ensure that the job you sell them is the job they will do. That you treat homeworkers as individuals. That you help them find each other within your community. That you support and develop a sense of community. And that you are transparent across this community at all times. Gamification can sometimes be used as a strategy to enhance engagement.