If you perform a quick Google search, you could find millions of results for “remote work” or ads promising to help you “make thousands, working from home.” Many companies are trying to recruit people to work remotely, which allows them to create their own schedules and work from anywhere in the world. According to Gallup, 43 percent of U.S. employees work remotely all or some of the time.
For some industries, working from home can allow employees more flexibility in their schedules, and in result produce more productivity. Unfortunately, not every industry is like that.
In virtual reception, most companies have their receptionists work from a designated office, but there are a few that do not such as Vicky Virtual and Gabbyville. Here at Abby Connect Virtual Receptionists, we have found working from the same office is beneficial for our business. Here are a few difficulties we found that occur with virtual reception companies whose receptionists work from home.
Lack of Community
Most adults, like myself, make some really great friends at the office. During work, we grab coffee together, eat lunch together, take breaks together, and go out after normal work hours together. There’s a special bond you form with your co-workers that you just can’t with people outside of your company. When you work from home, you miss that face-to-face interaction and lose camaraderie.
Research from the Gallup organization indicates that one of the 12 factors that illuminate whether an employee is happy on their job is having a best friend at work. Relationships with coworkers retain employees.
Here at Abby Connect, we believe in creating a community where we can all rely on one another and make friendships along the way. We build camaraderie through our team building activities, birthday and anniversary celebrations, office potlucks and luncheons, and getting to know you activities. We noticed that when we work and train together, we give better customer service to our clients. This in turn, helps our customers get more business and continue to grow.
You have to have good technology no matter if you work from home or in an office. The only difference is the technology in the office will be taken care of by your IT team. Working from home it’s all up to you to maintain your technology. In the world of virtual reception, having a good PBX (phone) system is a must.
For most virtual receptionist companies, the PBX system is located at the main office. Because of this, receptionists working from home would experience a delay in conversations and answering. Also, the internet connection at your home would not be able to support all of the internet needed for your home office.
Another concern is the state of your equipment at home (i.e. computer, modem, and headset). The older the equipment the receptionist uses is, the more likely the response times are slower and the more likely you will have a delay in the calls. According to Small Business Chronicle, studies show that after an average of 1 minute and 55 seconds of hold time most callers hang up annoyed – 34% of those callers who hang up will not call back. If you keep a caller waiting too long due to delays, slow response times, and slow technology, it will cause you to lose business. As a business owner, wouldn’t you rather work with a virtual reception company that picks up your calls within a few rings every time?
Difficulty or Lacking Communication
We all have that colleague in our offices that we would ask questions to. Imagine that you didn’t have them there for questions. Remote workers must balance various, almost overwhelming communication streams. There are instant messaging apps, video call software, project management tools, and of course the ever-present email.
Imagine training to be a virtual receptionist outside of the office. Going over call procedures, company policies, and training with a supervisor would prove to be more difficult due to technology’s nature of being unreliable. We find that our newest Abby’s learn better from watching and observing others, before they start to answer calls. This kind of training would be much less efficient remotely.
As a manager, it would be frustrating to train on a new client with several different team members at several different times. Especially in virtual reception where details are so important, how would you know your team read their client updates and understood them? Over 80% of Americans expect their customer service agent to be an expert in their field. 70% feel this isn’t the case. If a manager can’t initially train their employees and continuously give them feedback, it could set employees up for failure.
At Abby Connect, we emphasize training with our entire staff especially when our new receptionists start. One thing we focus on in training is personally connecting with our callers. To teach someone how to connect with another person while over the phone or computer is almost impossible. We practice on calls together and work through procedures and issues together, which help our receptionists to become better. If you work for a virtual receptionist company that works from home, you won’t get that one-on-one training. The one-on-one training results in better customer service and more business for your clients.
What happens if one day the receptionist you spent time training just disappears and stops reporting in for duty? If a receptionist works in the office, their manager would notice immediately if they did not show up. If a receptionist works from home, how would their manager know they aren’t reporting for work? Or, what happens if a receptionist doesn’t send their manager the appropriate paperwork or doesn’t send you their work at all?
According to thebalance.com, people leave their jobs because they aren’t recognized for the work they do and not experiencing a connection with the company culture. If receptionists don’t work in the office, it’s difficult to appreciate your employees and provide opportunities for events, team building, and other employee activities that help employees feel a close connection to your organization.
Happier employees are known to do a better job and go above and beyond what is required of them. If you were a business owner hiring a virtual receptionist, wouldn’t you rather have the one who is happy and appreciated more?
Loss of Productivity
At home, it’s easy to get distracted. Whether it’s a knock at the door, pets and children needing your attention, wanting to continue your Netflix binge, playing video games, taking a midday nap, playing video games, shopping an online sale, among other things, can distract you from the tasks at hand. At home, workers are also at the mercy of their beckoning chores, which would make deciphering between work and home harder to do.
Many people say these distractions won’t distract them from their work. However, it does. If you’re not working efficiently and not focusing on your work, your business will ultimately suffer. In the case of the receptionist, if a caller hears an animal, child, Netflix, or video games in the background of the call, they will know they are being helped through a call center. This causes distrust of the caller and the bad impression might cause them to never do business with that company ever again.
Should You Use Remote Virtual Receptionists?
Overall, virtual receptionists shouldn’t work from home due to the lack of community, the difficulty of communication, low employee retention, and loss of productivity. There are plenty of benefits of being able to work from home, but in virtual reception, it just doesn’t work. If you are a business owner or operations manager looking for an answering service, make sure to ask the companies you are considering where their receptionists work. Remember, once you hire the virtual receptionists they become an extension of your office. Would you rather have a receptionist who sounds like they are in your office with you or a receptionist who cuts in and out of the call and has lots of noise in the background? The decision is clear: hire a virtual receptionist based out of a centralized office.