Today’s technology is allowing many companies to offer work at home positions to handle call center or customer service functions. This is good news for stay-at-home moms (dads, too!) and others who are looking for an alternative to the typical 9-5 job.
Whether you’re an experienced WAH agent, just starting out, or still deciding if this is the right option for you, you’ll no doubt have questions along the way.
• Who hires work-at-home agents? There are many reputable companies that offer telecommuting jobs. LiveOps, Sykes/Alpine Access, Alorica at Home, American Health Connection, Arise Virtual Solutions, Assurion, and Language Line are some of the trusted companies that offer legitimate work at home positions.
• What qualifications do I need? Even though you won’t be working in a traditional office or call center environment, you still need to have certain professional attributes to be successful. You’ll need to be self-disciplined to manage your time effectively. Being courteous, patient, friendly, and helpful are other skill sets that make a good customer service agent.
• Will there be any costs involved? Legitimate work at home jobs may have some initial start-up costs. These costs could vary depending on which type of “employee” you are. Some companies will hire you as a W2 employee, meaning you are an employee of the company, while others may require you to be an independent agent. Independent agents essentially work for themselves and are not technically considered an employee; they are hired as “independent contractors.” W2 employees may have to purchase a headset and a good telephone, and have a dedicated phone line aside from their regular home line. Independent agents will need to purchase not only the headset and telephone equipment plus the phone line, but may have other costs associated with setting up an independent business. Research the company you’re interested in to see what costs you may have, if any.
• What are the advantages of working from home? The obvious perk — and why many telecommuters choose this career path — is no commute! Other advantages include being able to work your own hours or set your own schedule. A home-based office may be less stressful than dealing with stereotypical office politics. You’ll no doubt save money: gas, dry cleaning, lunches, and clothing expenses will all decrease dramatically. If you have kids, you’ll have more time for them. Have pets? They’ll love the extra attention! Home offices provide business-expense deductions at tax time.
• What are the disadvantages of working from home? Social people who enjoy day-to-day interactions with co-workers may often feel isolated when working at home. You may also lose out on company benefits like vacation time, healthcare insurance and chances for advancement. And, if you need the structure of the office hierarchy to stay motivated and on task, working at home probably isn’t for you.
• What equipment will I need? If your work-at-home job is customer service or call center related, you’ll need a durable, high-quality headset with a noise canceling mic. A telephone or dial pad will also be needed to receive calls. (A dial pad is essentially a telephone and plugs into your wall phone outlet.) Chances are you’ll be required to have a dedicated phone line for your work at home calls that is separate from your regular home phone line. Read more about finding durable equipment at reasonable prices here.
With more and more companies offering virtual opportunities, working at home can be a great way to achieve the perfect work-life balance.