GALLIPOLIS — Crown City resident Cheryl Williams lives about 25 miles from her employer in Gallipolis. For most people, that would mean spending about an hour in the car every day and a major weekly expense from the ever-rising price of gas. But not for Williams.
Williams has worked for InfoCision for nearly 10 years. A year and a half ago when the company expanded its work-at-home program to the Gallia County area, Cheryl decided to transfer out of the company’s physical location on Third Ave. in Gallipolis and move to a home office where she performs the same job.
According to the United States Department of Transportation, “Computer and telecommunications advances in recent years, including computer networks and data systems, fax machines, and electronic mail, have dramatically widened the choice of workplace for information workers and others so they can work wherever these tools are available, including at home. This development has paralleled trends toward a service economy, greater worker flexibility, empowerment of employees and rising frustration from the irritation and time loss associated with commuting. One result is that a substantial portion of the U.S. labor force, perhaps as much as 30 percent, now works at home at least part of the time.”
Rural communities, such as Crown City, are hidden gems for companies looking for quality employees because there are many people who want to work but may have difficulty finding a quality job. However, opening a physical location in numerous rural localities is simply too expensive a tactic for most companies. That’s what makes the growing national trend of companies offering work-from-home options so lucrative.
“We’ve had a physical location in Gallipolis for about 10 years that has been very successful for us, so we know that there are workers in the southern Ohio area who can do a tremendous job,” said InfoCision Chief of Staff Steve Brubaker. “That’s why we decided to spread our reach throughout the region by adding the work-at-home option. It allows us to bring in employees who live a little too far away to drive to a physical location, but are every bit as skilled as any employee in our 39 brick and mortar call centers.”
The caveat for potential InfoCision work-at-home employees, as with most employers, is that they must meet the minimum technology requirements to be eligible to work. That includes, among other things, high-speed Internet access — which is not always readily available in rural areas. In fact, the limited availability of Internet nearly cost Williams her opportunity to switch to work from home.
“When I first thought of going to work-at-home, a local cable provider was testing Internet service to select homes in my area,” said Williams. “I had to call up and plead with them to allow me to be one of the test homes, even though I was not on their pre-determined list. To their credit, they decided to hook up my home with high speed access, ut for a while, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it.”
For employees working from home, the benefits are easy to see. Williams estimates that she saves roughly $50 per week in gas alone. In addition, she saves money by not having to invest in her wardrobe on a regular basis and saves time by not having to make the half hour one-way commute. Despite being off site, InfoCision offers her the same kind of support found in house through an interactive chat room where supervisors are readily available if she has any questions or concerns.
“We’ve found a work-at-home model that really works well for us and some segments of our clientele,” said Brubaker. “Our work-at-home employees are full InfoCision employees who work a set weekly schedule, just like employees in any of our call centers. They enjoy the same pay and get the same support. We’re extremely pleased with how the program is going.”
And so is Williams. Being able to work from home allows her the freedom and flexibility to do more of the things she enjoys — and it gives her a chance to work more comfortably without having to consider retirement.
“I really just enjoy talking to people, and that’s why I love my job,” said Williams. “We raise money and recruit volunteers for some wonderful causes, and since I can do it from my home, sitting in a comfortable chair, I don’t know if I’ll ever want to stop.”