By Margery Weinstein
During 2008, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies Contact Centers conducted a pilot to determine the impact of allowing contact center representatives to work from home. Based on the success of this pilot, additional participants were added. As of July 2011, the company had 500 reps working from home. The effort required significant collaboration between leadership, Human Resources, workforce management, information technology, and training.
To make it a positive learning experience for the home-based agents (HBAs), the training organization had to initiate many changes quickly. A task force was formed to complete the following initiatives:
Without the ability to support HBAs from a training perspective, the project could not have been started. The company’s results have been positive in terms of key performance indicators.
One key benefit to having a work-from-home program is the flexibility it offers employees. Progressive offers all employees a survey twice a year in which they can give feedback on their work environment along with other employee-focused items. On a recent work environment survey, the company’s HBA population scored higher than its on-site population. Along with the numeric ratings, there were numerous comments regarding how much employees appreciated having the opportunity to do their job from home. Not only does it offer flexibility in managing work-life balance, it also offers cost savings to the employee. Less time in traffic and saving money on gas are two of the most frequently mentioned candid comments. Progressive says it eventually will save on real estate costs, as well. In addition, workforce management will leverage the HBAs for non-traditional-hour schedules.
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