I once worked for a company who didn’t believe in Technical Support employees working from home, despite having all the technology in place to allow that to happen. Their reasoning? Technical Support employees couldn’t be effective if they were not in the office. I’ve always thought that thinking was flawed, and my experiences with the work from home policy that WinMagic has in place reinforces that belief.
WinMagic has a work from home policy because we recognize that on occasion, there may be circumstances when it would be more beneficial for employees to work from home in order to complete a particular task, avoid hazardous travel conditions, manage personal appointments, etc. After all, we as human beings sometimes have to deal with anything from a sick child, a repairman coming to the home, to extenuating circumstances such as illness or a personal emergency. But, at the same time, we would not want to detract from the productivity of the company. Thus, WinMagic allows employees to work from home when the need arises as we know it’s a “win-win” for both parties. WinMagic employees also understand that their primary responsibly is to physically report to work because there are interactions between people that are best handled in person.
This policy extends to the Tech Support team, where as long as an employee has an Internet connection which would allow access to our corporate network, a quiet place to work that is distraction free, a headset, and the software required to answer and make phone calls via our phone switch, they can work from home if the need arises. Beyond those requirements, we ask that they be available if needed via Skype for Business, and as a back-up, that they provide a contact number (home or cellular) where we can reach them if required.
Now let me circle back to the argument that Tech Support employees are less productive at home. I can say that is patently false, because we’ve seen no difference in terms of our average speed of answer, abandon rate, or any other metric that we measure when we look at weeks or days where people work from home versus weeks or days when they don’t. While some of this is dependent on the maturity level of your employees, I think it also has to do with one key item – Trust. If the employee knows that their employer trusts them, then they will be more likely do the right thing when it comes to the company and their customers. Thus, it doesn’t matter if they’re in the office or not. And this isn’t anecdotal. My employees told me this among other reasons when I asked them about why the ability to work from home matters to them.
It’s also a competitive advantage for WinMagic when it comes to recruitment and retention. We can attract talent that have a more diverse skill set because we as an employer value and recognize that our employees have lives beyond the workplace, and we are willing to work with them on that front. This means that they’re less likely to go to a workplace that doesn’t have the same values as we do, allowing me to really build that “bench strength” of knowledgeable agents to help our customers better. But that’s not the only “win” for our customers. By having a work from home policy, I can keep my staffing levels consistent. This is because my employees would have taken the day off if they worked elsewhere. Which means it might take longer for you to get to an agent if you called us, or it may take longer to get a response if you submitted a ticket via our customer portal. But here at WinMagic, they’re on duty and ready to assist you from home.
Offering flexible work options such as working from home allows WinMagic to better support our employees, the business, and our customers. It’s a win for all concerned, and illustrates how progressive a company WinMagic is.