Companies Are Waking Up to the Work at Home Call
By Sharon Davis

More and more companies are seeing the benefits of offering work at home options to their employees.

According to a report at MarketWatch, Hilton Hotels Corporation is rolling out a flexible home based work at home program for reservation agents. Because the program is so desirable to prospective employees, Hilton will be able to recruit the most experienced and talented workers.

"Today's consumer demands a heightened level of customer service, and HRCC delivers with motivated home-based sales and service professionals," said Russ Olivier, senior vice president, HRCC. "Today, more than 800 Hilton@Home agents book global travel and provide customer care for more than 3,000 hotels with 500,000 rooms among nine brands that comprise the Hilton Family of Hotels. This unique career offering from a world-class organization attracts experienced and educated professionals who may not otherwise consider a customer contact position in the typical call center environment."

Work at home agents will be able to choose their own work schedules online, 24/7. This allows many people who would not consider working in a call center environment to consider this type of job. Many employees are stay-at-home parents and those caring for others in their home.

JetBlue has had a successful telecommuting policy for many years. Eighty percent of JetBlue's reservation agents work from home. The company reports that allowing employees to telecommute has not only saved them money and expensive office space... it's also increased productivity.

"We initiated our at-home program when we first started the airline," says Margot Miller, manager of reservations at JetBlue, which is based in Salt Lake City, Utah. "Having come from a call center environment prior to my JetBlue experience, people tend to be a little more productive in their own environment... and most people like to work at home because it saves time and gas, and it's easier on their families."

In a recent news report Virginia Governor Tim Kaine was quoted as having asked all state agencies to consider tele-working. He says it would help to defray rising fuel costs and traffic congestion. According to the article, "At the Department of Taxation, nearly 600 employees tele-work. The government estimates that saves more than 45,000 gallons of fuel annually."

Some companies have decided to close their offices and go completely virtual. PC World recently reported that Chorus, a provider of clinical, practice management and financial software for health care providers, closed its Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., headquarters in early June and its other office, in Stafford, Texas (outside of Houston), in early July; that means all of the company's 35 employees and full-time consultants work at home.

Chorus CIO, Rick Boyd stated that the company decided to close its offices to save money (an estimated $400,000 a year) and spare employees the hassle and rising cost of commuting.

Companies that have successful remote work programs have work at home policies in place. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts created a flexible work arrangement worksheet that's designed to help managers evaluate if an employee's job tasks can be performed remotely. The worksheet also establishes an agreement between an employee and manager about the employee's job performance and productivity while working remotely.

Marvin Luz, vice president of client services at Chorus, says his group had specific, common-sense rules it had to follow. For example, they can't have TVs or stereos on in the background. Nor can they eat while on the phone with customers. These rules are meant to send the message that even though employees work from the casual confines of their homes, they must maintain a certain level of professional decorum while on the clock.

The corporate world is definitely coming around to the idea of telecommuting and this is good news for those looking to work from home and, even better, it's great news for the environment.

Sharon Davis, Work At Home expert, writer and consultant, helps people to achieve their goal of working at home, telecommuting or starting a home business. Work At Home
Work At Home Blog

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