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Leveraging Home-based Professionals to achieve Better Business Continuity

Most companies have comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery plans. However, unprecedented weather events (i.e. Hurricane Katrina) and widespread utility outages (i.e. the blackout of 2003) have added to the ongoing fear of future terrorist activities, to compel businesses to take their planning efforts to new levels. Companies are looking to change the fundamental way business works in an effort to remain operational during previously unavoidable disruptions, some of which could last beyond the normal lapses that are traditionally anticipated in business continuity planning.

Historically, companies focused on ensuring that the data of their clients, customers, employees and corporation was secure during a business interruption and that their technology provided for back-up and redundancy. Yet business interruptions today could easily extend past a few days. Given the increasing complexity of most businesses, companies need to ensure that business continuity planning accounts for people and processes to continue during an interruption, in addition to the security of their data and the operation of their technology.

Moving from a centrally-based workforce – one where all employees work from traditional corporate facilities – to a decentralized, home-based workforce (or some combination thereof) is perhaps the single most significant step that a business can take to ensure that its people and processes will continue working during virtually any business interruption.

For a company caught in an emergency situation, virtual contact center solution providers can mobilize teams of dispersed workers on short notice. For example, when a pandemic, natural disaster or terror attack prevents people from reporting to their places of work in one region, a virtual contact center provider can mobilize workers in other regions to manage incoming and outgoing calls and other critical communications in an outsourced relationship. These calls, if left unattended, could debilitate an organization.

Virtual contact center solutions providers can work as an outsourced provider to provide home-based workers on an ongoing basis as an extension of the organization’s workforce. In this way, the organization utilizes the homeshoring expert’s workforce as its decentralized solution to supplement its own workforce for a portion of its call volume throughout the year and also to be leveraged in emergency situations.

While much technology exists today that enables telework, there are many additional considerations that each company must take into account – making the undertaking more complex than some organizations anticipate. Issues relating to individual work style and motivation, organizational communication and culture, and management style and interaction all must be considered, discussed and sometimes adjusted. Policies and procedures must be reviewed and updated to account for the new way of working. And communications vehicles must be implemented to support the new environment.

The effort will pay off in abundance. Higher employee satisfaction and retention rates, and lower costs, in addition to better protection from interruption have all been reported by organizations that have already made the move.

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