- April 26, 2019
By Robert Cohn, Direct Recruiters, Inc.
You don‚Äôt have to be an e-commerce company in need of 3,000 customer service agents to benefit from a telecommuting program. From internet retail to manufacturing, all companies can benefit from a more flexible workforce, lower overhead, and an increased talent pool.
By Robert Cohn, Managing Partner of Automation, Robotics and Controls at Direct Recruiters, Inc.
Earlier this year, Amazon announced its plans to hire 3,000 remote customer-service representatives. These positions will be added to the 1,750 remote customer-service roles filled last fall. The e-commerce giant has been one of the biggest employers of remote workers ranking number 6 on the FlexJobs list of 100 companies with remote jobs.
The customer service role includes supporting Amazon customers by phone, email, and instant messenger. For candidates willing and able to maintain a flexible schedule the position provides good benefits. Health care coverage is provided after 90 days of employment and the position starts at $15 an hour.
To be considered for one of these positions, candidates must meet a few requirements. First, they must live in one of the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Secondly, applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent. And lastly, a candidate needs to be able to work in a distraction-free workspace. Although it’s not listed as a requirement, Amazon prefers workers with previous customer service experience, logical problem-solving skills, and experience working in a fast-paced environment.
According to FlexJobs, the company is also hiring for other remote positions, such as technical account manager, migration lead, front-end engineer, program manager, and security consultant.
Why the push for remote employees?
During an interview with FOX Business, FlexJobs senior career specialist Brie Reynolds said this is "one of the bigger single hiring pushes" they have seen for remote jobs. But why is Amazon making such a push toward a remote workforce?
A remote workforce provides many benefits. We live in a new era. Qualified candidates no longer need to live in your city, state, or even country, depending on the nature of the job. If your company’s framework will allow, hiring managers have a vast talent pool compared to what was available just a few years ago.
The first advantage of a remote workforce is flexibility. Amazon’s customer service schedules vary based on demand. Beyond a desire to provide impeccable customer service, Amazon seeks to maintain a flexible workforce they can keep on payroll year-round. Hours are added during busier seasons allowing them to maintain an experienced staff that’s prepared for the busier times of the year.
During slower times, Amazon offers between 20 and 29 hours per week. However, during busier seasons and special events (like Prime Day), weekly hours can increase to as many as 60, with time and a half ($22.50 per hour) provided for any hours that qualify as overtime. There’s no reason an industrial plant can’t implement these tactics. During slower seasons, a lean workforce is financially beneficial whether you’re in e-commerce or manufacturing.
The second reason Amazon is hiring so many remote employees is the ability to avoid the overhead costs associated with traditional employees. Telecommuting allows Amazon to add to its labor pool without the overhead associated with on-site employees. Although these positions come with a lot of uncertainty – part-time for portions of the year and working 60 hours during peak periods is a challenging schedule – at $15 an hour, these are good jobs.
"In these roles, customer service associates will work 100 percent from home assisting customers mainly by phone, with some chat and email assistance as well," Reynolds explained.
"Being available to work a flexible schedule that falls within our operating hours is required and expected," the company said.
Amazon’s headquartered in Seattle, Washington. However, its vast network of warehouses, customer service centers, retail operations, and software development centers spread across the globe. Another advantage provided to Amazon by telecommuting is the opportunity to tap different talent pools.
This is an appealing advantage to companies operating in a secluded location. Factories located in such areas may have a difficult time attracting top talent without offering remote capabilities to potential candidates.
How to implement remote work structure
Employing remote workers can provide definite advantages to your company. Consider the different roles that can be assigned to a remote worker. Following Amazon’s lead with customer service could be a good start. Additionally, there are roles such as sales and engineering that can be done effectively by a remote employee.
But before you tell HR to start looking for remote employees, realize that hiring is only part of the equation. There are several things to consider before allowing your employees to work from home.
Beyond the infrastructure, managing remote employees requires additional consideration. You need to make sure your remote workers will understand their responsibilities and use their time wisely. Will your company be able to motivate, engage, and communicate effectively with your remote employees?
Here are a few practical tips if you feel that telecommuting could be an option for your company.
1. Lead with Transparency
Remote employees should be treated the same way you would treat an employee you see in the office each day. Take the time to get to know your employees who telecommute. Your organization should facilitate an opportunity where managers and team members can share things about themselves and discuss topics outside of the company.
Remote employees should be involved in all company aspects and included in the vision and objectives of the company. The expectations set for them should be clear and the company should provide the tools and training needed to achieve the desired results.
2. Schedule Regular Meetings
Working across different times zones can be difficult. But maintaining regular meetings will help you get to know your remote employee and help them feel like they’re part of the team.
A weekly virtual meeting will allow you to check in with your employees, connect with each other, and create a healthy team atmosphere for all members of the team. Virtual meetings can be short and allow everyone to sign in no matter where they are.
3. Create Organization
Structure is a key part of any healthy business. It’s especially important when you’re managing employees located in a different state. Implementing procedures, project management systems, and deadlines will prevent chaos from taking over. After you’ve developed a system, make sure to share it with everyone on the team. Then decide how your team will communicate with each other. Everyone on the team should be aware of the communication expectations.
4. Work to Create a Strong Company Culture
Employing remote workers clearly has its benefits. But if you’re not careful it can damage your company culture. As previously mentioned, ongoing meetings can help humanize employees in different parts of the country. Make sure that your team gets to know each other and works toward the same goals. Independent of location there should be a healthy respect for each other’s time, skills, and talents.
5. Be Able to Track Time
Time tracking software is a valuable tool to include in a telecommuting program. This keeps your employees on track and allows management to review performance, set clear objectives, and increase productivity.
Time tracking tools allow the employee to feels like they are in charge of their time. It provides an accurate report of unproductive activities and helps them to do something about it.
You don’t have to be an e-commerce company in need of 3,000 customer service agents to benefit from a telecommuting program. From internet retail to manufacturing, all companies can benefit from a more flexible workforce, lower overhead, and an increased talent pool.
Consider these tips before you hire your first remote employee. They’ll help you motivate, engage, and communicate effectively with your employees who telecommute. As a result, your company will attain the previously mentioned benefits while working towards your goals.
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