Home-based agents are customer service representatives who work from home rather than in person at a call center. They may do this work part time or have an additional job outside the home. While some home-based agents are employed by the company they work for, others are independent contractors responsible for paying their own taxes and insurance. These agents provide customer service communications on the telephone and through email.
Answering customer queries typically makes up a lot of a home-based agent's work. He or she may also do live chats, which some customer service oriented websites offer as a feature. In this way, an e-commerce site has more personalized service by having a live representative available to answer questions. Since time zones vary greatly throughout the world, and the Internet is considered a global medium, home-based agents may work in shifts that often include evenings rather that just daytime hours. Many home-based agents don't mind the evening shifts, as these allow them not to have to work outside the home at night.
Working as a home-based agent can be especially appealing to parents who want to be able to be home with their children, but also require an income. Many companies who hire home-based agents have strict rules that the home customer service worker must have a separate, closed off office space that is quiet. Noise from children and pets is not usually tolerated, so parents must be able to schedule and juggle supervising their children with separate work space and time. They may use a baby monitor for instance or work only when their older children are in school.
Mature persons with customer service experience are often hired as home-based agents. This can be a benefit for those who have health issues as well as people who were downsized out of a job or retired from their former position. Since a home-based agent works from his or her own home, there is no need for office clothing or transportation to and from a job site. From the employer's prospective, labor costs are usually greatly reduced because there is no need to rent large commercial space and furnish work stations with desks and other office equipment.
Some companies that have a home-based agent staff may require workers to sign in and out of a computer program on each shift. They may have telephone performance interviews to discuss any corrections for home-based agents to make or to give positive feedback. Although direct supervision is lacking in these jobs, many of these customer service professionals are highly self-motivated, as they appreciate the option to work from home.