Homeshoring

Nottingham City has successfully completed a Homeshoring pilot partnered by Cisco, UK Virtual Call Centres (UKVCC), community organisations, Bestwood Educations Skills and Training (BEST) with Boots. The Project is geared towards people whose lifestyles tend to be more home-based, including the over 50s, women returners and people receiving  incapacity benefits. It also aimed at solving many of the problems experienced by traditional call centres such as the high turnover of employees

Policy Context

Homeshoring may be viewed purely as flexible working or may be implemented as part of a wider project to address unemployment and improve social inclusion by supporting people from disadvantaged communities to get back into the workplace. The public sector can play a vital role in this flexible working agenda by updating HR policy to recruit a proportion of its workforce from those who are economically inactive. Moreover, by working with the private sector, via economic development activity, and encouraging them to offer flexible employment opportunities to disadvantaged people.

Description of target users and groups

  • Over 50s
  • Women returners
  • Disabled and incapacitated people
  • Economic 'hot spots'
  • Rural communities

Description of the way to implement the initiative

Nottingham's homeshoring pilot partnered by Cisco, UK Virtual Call Centres (UKVCC), community organisations, Bestwood Educations Skills and Training (BEST) with Boots.

The Project is geared towards people whose lifestyles tend to be more home-based, including the over 50s, women returners and people receiving  incapacity benefits. It also aimed at solving many of the problems experienced by traditional call centres such as the high turnover of employees, recruitment costs and health problems associated with high density office environments.

The following key objectives were identified for the pilot scheme:

  • Develop 3 exemplar Homeshoring pilots;
  • Provide a well documented feasibility study into the potential for Homeshoring in England and Wales;
  • Develop and share a Best Practice Toolkit with other Councils.

The following work packages were agreed with partners and DC10:

  • Co-ordination and Governance (lead Accelerate Nottingham);
  • Rural Development of Homeshoring (lead RCAN);
  • BEST Development of Homeshoring (lead BEST);
  • Advice to BEST, RCAN and Nottingham City (lead UKVCC);
  • National Feasibility Study (lead Nottingham City Council);
  • Nottingham and Notts Business Plan (lead Nottingham City Council);
  • Development of Homeshoring Capability in Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Councils (lead Nottingham City Council);
  • Development of Best Practice Toolkit (lead Nottingham City Council);
  • Distribution of Best Practice Toolkit including the Case Study (lead Accelerate Nottingham).

One of the key aspects of the Nottingham City pilot was to bring the economically inactive back into the workplace. 'Homeshoring' is a system already achieving successful results in the United States, whereby call or contact centre staff can work from home using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and broadband.

Technology solution

Technology choice: Proprietary technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

The Boots homeshoring pilot proved the technology works and that people working from home in disadvantaged communities can meet the service quality standards that are required by major private sector employers.

There has been a broad interest across the public sector in homeshoring as a tool for engagement and employment, although lead-in times are long and processes complex.

Effective partnerships have developed through the Homeshoring project for future interventions in the field, such as Boots using BEST as a training provider on an ongoing basis and in close partnership with Bristol.

Feasibility studies and research into Rural Homeshoring have resulted in funding bids to move the work forward. Moreover, six seasonal homeshorers were directly employed by Boots, four taken on full time. Four homeshorers were  employed at Nottingham City Homes. A Rural Feasibility Study on the subject was also completed. Thirty new jobs will be created as a result of the Bassetlaw bid. Additionally, two new Community facilities will be equipped for Homeshoring. Lastly, the Best Practice Toolkit has been completed.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

Information shared through UK DC10plus digital inclusion network.

Lessons learnt

There are five main criteria that must be aligned to successfully implement homeshoring in the public sector:

  • Senior Management Team approval;
  • Relevant Business cases;
  • Suitable job vacancies or a desire to re-design jobs;
  • Broadband availability;
  • Community engagement and pre-employment provision.

Homeshoring work can, by definition, be carried out anywhere in the country where suitable broadband functionality is available (minimum 8mb download speed). However, homeshorers are normally recruited in one or more teams of about 15 advisors from within the same geographic area so that their Team Leaders can easily visit them frequently in their homes. That geographic area also must have a Training Hub available.

If the advisors are being recruited from an 'economically disadvantaged' area, or possibly from the communities with disabilities, then the Hub will need to be in close proximity unless the Local Authority (or similar) provides the necessary transportation to and from the Hub. For non - economically disadvantaged advisors, the Training Hub could be a little further afield as transportation to/from the training facility is likely to be less problematic.

Scope: Local (city or municipality)
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