Monday, February 26, 2007

Telecommuters Are Cheaper than Real Workers

Okay, we're all real workers, but you know what I mean. I just read an interesting white paper from Avaya making the case for telecommuting programs for contact centers.

I know what you're thinking: why would the IP Telephony Contact Center Advisory Board give us bad advice.

Nevertheless, the white paper cited some pretty interesting data. For example, they note a Gallup poll that found that training a new staff member cost 30% again of that salary. By having programs in place that reduce churn and turnover (and they note that telecommuting programs can reduce turnover from 40% or higher to around 10%), companies realize significant savings.

They go on and on about how great telecommuting is for employers. You can hire people at small town rates -- because they can actually live in small towns. Contact centers can bring people in for two and three hour stints at peak call times more easily. Employees who might be less inclined to commute 45 minutes each way for a two hour peak shift are more easily persuaded to connect for a few hours in the morning and then again in the event when they just shuffle down the hall to strap on their headsets. There is also a measurable decline in the use of sick and personal time, to the tune of about 20%. Again, you might not feel well enough to sit on the train for an hour, but you are probably able to duck into your home office for a bit and get some stuff done.

Of course, we're all familiar with the benefits for the employee: slippers, slippers, slippers. I think the most interesting piece of data in this white paper pertains to transportation costs. Noting that contact center work is often low-paying, it goes on to say:
Telecommuting puts the transportation and commuting costs of $5,000 plus the
incidental costs back into the employee's pocket. This increases the ... net
disposable income ... by more [than] $400 per month. ... The net effect is that
home-based work has a significant impact on the [employee's] real income.

No matter what kind of remote work you do, I think you can see your own situation resonate with these data. I know I'm much less cranky-pants about going in on the weekend to fix something now (when I shuffle into my office in my PJs and fix the problem remotely) as opposed to when I was in the Real Office (when I'd get dressed and drive downtown, find some place to park because the garage wasn't open on weekends, hope that I wouldn't get a ticket, and fix the problem).

And how many remote workers out there were able to successfully negotiate remote work arrangements because they were just too costly to replace?

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