Why is Work-at-Home Boosting Agent Productivity in the BPO Industry?

In the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, productivity can make or break a company’s success. Contact centers track their agents with all kinds of metrics and KPIs—FCR, ACR, CCR, OHT, and a whole host of other acronyms for measuring an employee’s productivity.

Within an industry that is so focused on measurable results, how did a global event like the COVID-19 pandemic affect agent productivity? Now that remote working is here to stay, how is it impacting their work? Are work-at-home agents performing better than in-center, or are they struggling to maintain acceptable levels of productivity?

Here at ThinScale, we’re seeing a notable increase in the focus that BPOs are placing on work-at-home productivity. To this end, organizations have purchased and developed several solutions that help them monitor remote employee activity. Still, while these visibility and control tools have huge benefits, the work-at-home environment itself is the main driver of increased productivity. Just look at these statistics.

Exploring the Benefits of WaH

Work at home has been beneficial for productivity since long before COVID-19. In 2015, Stanford University studied 16,000 remote contact center workers over a nine-month period and found that working from home increases agent productivity by 13%.

After the pandemic started, similar numbers began to appear in new studies. In a 2020 survey by FlexJobs, the company found that workers who expected their productivity to increase when working from home were absolutely right. Just over half (51%) of respondents reported a productivity boost when they began working from home during the pandemic, citing fewer interruptions and quieter work environments as notable reasons for the improvement.

Working from home during lockdown has also helped knowledge workers focus on more important tasks, according to a study by Harvard Business Review. Respondents spent 12% less time in lengthy meetings and 9% more time interacting with customers or external partners. Researchers also found that work-at-home employees did 50% more work out of personal choice as tasks seemed more important to them in the home environment.

In the same HBR study, respondents revealed that they valued their tasks as being more worthwhile when working from home. In a similar study in 2013, 27% of respondents considered their tasks to be tiresome. This statistic dropped to 12% during the lockdowns in 2020. Likewise, the number of tasks they could readily offload to others dropped from 41% to 27%.

These boosts to job satisfaction and productivity aren’t the only benefits of work-at-home. They each have a positive knock-on effect on attrition rates, which the BPO industry has been trying to improve for decades. In the 2015 Stanford study, work-at-home agents reported an increase in their job satisfaction and attrition rates were cut by a whopping 50%, so the answer may have been staring us in the face for a while.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 72% of employers say remote work has a high impact on employee retention, with 90% of employees reporting an increase in morale when given flexible work arrangements.


How Exactly does WaH provide productivity benefits?

It’s clear that work-at-home is a productivity booster, but why is that the case? What makes it an improvement over traditional in-center BPO delivery?

The first reason is employee satisfaction. Happy workers mean lower attrition, with 45% of satisfied remote workers holding the same positions for five years or more. Ask.com found that 86% of employees prefer to work by themselves remotely, as the lack of distractions allowed them to maximise their productivity. Several studies have also shown that work-at-home results in fewer prolonged breaks and fewer sick days, which directly improves calls per minute as agents spend more time at their desks.

Without the need to commute to work, people have even more extra time to exercise, boosting their mental and physical health, along with their productivity. One survey by Airtasker found that workers save an average of 8.5 hours a week of free time by not commuting to work. That’s 408 hours per year to spend on things that matter most to them.

Then you have dedicated work-at-home technology. Several of the software solutions we mentioned earlier are designed to encourage or enforce productivity in a work-at-home setting. For example, BPOs can utilize a robust, secure, solutions, like ThinScale’s Secure Remote Worker for BYOD schemes, or ThinKiosk for corporate machine deployments. These solutions allow employers to enforce productivity control by denying the use of non-workplace applications. Employers can also monitor employee activity through the dedicated ThinScale Management Platform.

Seeing as the productivity software market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 12.6% between 2021 and 2024, there is clearly plenty of buy-in for these types of solutions, signifying an ongoing reliance on work-at-home operations.

In Closing

It’s difficult to ignore the productivity benefits of work-at-home, particularly when so many studies paint a picture of remote work successes. When the right candidates are given the freedom and flexibility to perform their jobs at home, employees are happier, stay in their jobs for longer, and do a better job overall, leading to huge boosts to customer satisfaction for BPOs.

The foundations of work-at-home productivity were laid by almost everybody during lockdown, so BPOs should think very carefully before wrangling everyone back to the office.

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