Choice Hotels International has announced plans to transition its Minot, North Dakota call center to a home-based operation. The announcement came as a shock to their 350 call center employees. Roughly 50 of them currently work from their homes and company officials say that they expect to significantly increase its number of home-based positions. They are not saying how many of the 300 on-site workers will be transitioned to home-based positions.
“While the decision to close the physical center in Minot by 2011 was not an easy decision to make, we feel strongly that it provides the best balance of business continuity and operational flexibility, enabling us to preserve the strengths of our Minot operation while positioning us effectively for the future,” said Mary Beth Knight, senior vice president, eCommerce and global distribution. “The home-based solution offers us the ability to meet our objectives while maintaining opportunities for our Minot associates. As part of our global contact center strategy, we are confident that this approach in Minot will improve our overall ability to attract and retain talent in support of our worldwide operations, drive strong long-term results and better leverage Choice’s resources.”
Other companies have instituted telework programs. Patrick Erwin recently wrote about companies that hire home-based workers:
Aetna is one of the companies that has developed and implemented such a program. “Our telework program started as a grassroots initiative to keep talented employees when there were site consolidations.” Aetna Telework Program Head Eileen Lavin explains. The program, which started only a few years ago, has become very popular with employees. Lavin notes that since the inception of the program, participation has jumped 300 percent. Around 10,000 Aetna employees, or 27 percent of the company’s work force, now work from home.
Lavin says that the company looks at several factors before transitioning a job or task to be done at home. Aetna ensures that the employee is an appropriate candidate to work at home. It also confirms that the home office is a stable, business-friendly environment. And most importantly, Aetna carefully considers whether the job is an appropriate choice to be performed by home-based workers.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is another company that is mixing traditional workers with employees who work from home. These home-based employees include medical transcriptionists and nurses who operate the hospital’s Advice Line. Laurie Peterson, one of the Advice Line nurses, has been working for the company from home for 11 years. She takes calls that vary from minor questions to emergency situations, and provides callers with a recommended course of action based on their conversations.
Peterson says, “I really enjoy being able to use my nursing judgement and experience right here in the convenience of my own home. We get inquiries from people both locally and all over the world seeking help with their child’s health problems. At the end of a shift, it’s very fulfilling for me to know I’ve helped allay a parent’s fears.”
Interested in turning your job into a home-based job? See these tips for convincing your boss to allow you to telecommute.