Monday, October 29, 2007

'Home agents' offer alternative to sending telephone customer support jobs overseas

Dialing a customer-support phone line often begins an experience in cross-cultural communication. That's because many companies have outsourced those jobs overseas, but a growing number are bringing those jobs home, literally. Marilyn Gardner of the Christian Science Monitor reports there is a countertrend called "homeshoring" or "inshoring" that is driving a demand for American agents who work from their homes.

Gardner reports that there currently are more than 110,000 home-based agents in the United States and market-researcher IDC of Framingham, Mass., predicts there will be 328,000 by 2012. "Several factors are fueling the popularity of these jobs: Parents and caregivers need flexible hours. Workers in gridlocked cities want to avoid long commutes and the high cost of fuel. And growing ranks of retirees are eager to supplement their income. At the same time, a backlash against outsourcing customer service to other countries is prompting some companies to bring work back to the US."

The work could be ideal for people who live in rural areas that would demand a lengthy commute for most jobs. To qualify, however, you need access to a high-speed Internet connection — something many rural areas lack. Some offers for this kind of work can turn out to be scams, so avoid online offers that do not spell out specific job requirements or descriptions. (Read more)

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