EDITORIAL: 'Work from home' works in St. Joseph
Sep 26, 2012 (St. Joseph News-Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Computers make a lot of things possible, and this includes new jobs and more flexible work arrangements at one of St. Joseph's largest employers.
The same call center operations that have participated in "outsourcing" and creating jobs overseas increasingly are turning to "homeshoring" -- a newer model that takes advantage of willing workers in our own backyard.
This is the backdrop for an expansion of "work-from-home" employment by Systems & Services Technologies in St. Joseph. SST, located at 4315 Pickett Road, is part of NCO Group, a global leader in "teleservicing" -- the art of managing account relationships over the phone, including receiving payments, collections, customer service and brand management.
SST, as the News-Press recounted recently, employs more than 700 people locally, including about 150 who already work from home with the aid of a computer, secure connections and a phone. The company is in the process of hiring about 100 additional employees -- most for work-from-home jobs.
This arrangement makes sense, says SST, because the model is tailored to the needs of its large business client base and to its work force needs. Among the positives:
--The jobs stay in this country -- the client customers can tout that -- and the work force becomes more "scalable" and flexible. No facility must be built or shut down as the call center work ebbs and flows.
--The available applicant pool expands when a company like SST can choose among workers who have skills but prefer to work from home. The quality of the work force also can go up; some of the best candidates for these positions may be ones who cannot or do not want to work from a bricks-and-mortar office.
--The employees, at least in SST's case, are not contract workers but regular full-time employees with an industry-competitive salary and benefits.
--Costs to the businesses that need these services can go down -- SST has less invested in infrastructure and can pass part of that savings along.
Servicing customer accounts over the phone is not a job for everyone, but it's hard to see the downside in retaining these jobs locally, adding to employment numbers and giving some workers the chance at the flexible work arrangements they desire.
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