If you prefer not to commute to work every morning and like to have a quiet atmosphere as you work, then working as a home agent may be for you. There are many types of jobs available at different companies, such as customer service, data entry or sales. For the sake of this article I will discuss inbound sales calls, since this is my area of expertise. I am one of the top salespeople in my very large, well-known company. This type of position isn't for everyone, so I'll explain how many of these positions work.
You are by yourself the whole day, with no coworkers around you. If you do have contact with coworkers, they usually reach you by Instant Message, as does your Supervisor. Being alone all day isn't for everyone. Be true to what kind of person you are when considering this job, are you an introvert (like to be alone) or an extrovert (like the company of others)? If you are gregarious, and like to have the comraderie of people talking nearby as you work, then you may not like being alone so much. As a home agent, most likely there won't be a holiday party to go to, since you and your coworkers are spread all over the place. If you are an independent person then this won't bother you at all. It's refreshing not to have to talk on the phone over a noisy background. I like my privacy and go out after my job is done for the day, that way I don't feel isolated.
Having an environment conducive to work is important. If you want to be taken seriously by your superiors and customers, you must have total quiet in the background as much as possible, as you work. If you have noisy pets or kids, then have an office to work in where you can close yourself away from them for awhile. Have someone watch the kids for you as you work so they won't want to come visit as you talk to customers. This is important because you are being monitored by higher ups by phone and/or computer, and if you have to stop working to deal with other things, then your productivity will be low. This won't keep you employed for long. So, it pays to be disciplined about your work time and keep all noise and distraction to the absolute minimum.
Most of the time, you must have high speed or cable internet. No dial up, as it is too slow for business purposes. Also, a corded, land-line telephone with a hands-free headset is preferred over cordless phones for security reasons. Especially if you are taking peoples’ credit card information like I do. You don't want anyone listening in on your conversation who isn't authorized to. Customers are touchy giving out private information so you want to make their experience as risk-free as possible.
It is important to have discipline and a strong work ethic, in order to keep an independent job. Nobody is there to help you so you must be able to rely on yourself for answering customer questions and problems. Sometimes you can Instant Message a supervisor for help, but this is not always the case. If you can work on your own and rely on your own knowledge, home agent jobs are probably a good fit for your lifestyle. Take all training possible for the position you plan to work in. Most companies have their own training programs so take notes, even if you are experienced in the business. There is always something to be gained from on-the-job training.
Be comfortable when working, but not too comfortable. It's hard to stay alert when lying down and relaxing in bed or in a recliner. I know, I tried it. My normally consistent high sales stats plummeted during my few weeks in a massage recliner. I was too comfortable. Darn. Back to an office chair, and my sales went back to normal. To keep your initiative going, pretend you're working in-house and sit at a desk. When you feel professional, you come across as more professional.
There are a variety of jobs available for home agents, so look online. Search for inbound calls or customer service. Anyone who wants you to pay a fee to work for them, forget it and move on. Most companies usally interview you online and on the phone. Make sure when talking to them that you use good diction and voice tone, as they will be analyzing how well you speak. They want a professional representative for their company, so beat out the competition by giving them good phone. When you find the right job, keep that motivation going by remembering the times you were stuck in traffic going to and from your old job. And, how when you're car broke down, you had to miss work. Once you settle into a daily routine as a home agent, chances are it'll be a welcome relief from the cubicle lifestyle. Give it a try and see what you think. Good luck and have fun.
Carolyn McFann is a scientific and nature illustrator, who owns Two Purring Cats Design Studio, which can be seen at: http://www.cafepress.com/twopurringcats Educated at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, Carolyn is a seasoned, well-traveled artist, writer and photographer. She has lived and worked in Cancun, Mexico, among other interesting professional assignments in other countries. Clients include nature parks, museums, scientists, corporations and private owners. She has been the subject of tv interviews, articles for newspapers and other popular media venues.