As it goes with some of the best business ideas, “necessity is the mother of invention.” And so it was for me.
But, as it also would happen, there sometimes unfolds a bigger benefit that nobody—not even the company founder—can anticipate.
In pioneering on-demand contact center services, Working Solutions created a more liberating way to work. Freed of brick-and-mortar workplaces and rules, remote agents as independent contractors scheduled their hours to balance work and life.
Over 20-plus years, this virtual business model grew into a nationwide community of more than 110,000 agents, providing women and men work opportunities.
The company’s first project in 1996 assisted with market research for a city government. To fulfill the contract, I needed contact center agents—and needed them fast.
Setting up a physical call center wasn’t an option. First, it was too costly. And second, I wanted to use talent located in and around the contracting city, which was 500 miles away from my office.
As the internet came of age, I set up a remote agent workforce, which operated out of my home. With a DIY website, the first agents were contracted and a new business started—all on a $1,000 investment.
The remote model tapped into a deep pool of on-demand workers, just waiting to be found. Many of them turned out to be accomplished women from diverse industries, willing to freelance their skills in sales and service.
Today, Working Solutions employs more than 100 persons, along with its network of contracted agents. About 75% of employees and independent agents who work from home are women.
Overall, they are experienced professionals, who either left the corporate world of big business or chose never to enter it.
For some, the desire to work from home came with the birth of a child or the need to care for loved ones. Others wanted to avoid commuting, corporate hassles and the costs to make it all happen. The flexibility and freedom of remote work provided the perfect solution.
Looking back, I connected with a fundamental desire of a lot of Americans to work when and where they please. Increasingly, that’s from home, which offers flexibility for workers, companies and clients.
Citing the World Economic Forum, Remote.co reports this year “work flexibility, including telework, is ‘one of the biggest drivers of transformation’ in the workplace.”
It adds: “A Gallup poll found that 37 percent of American workers have worked virtually in their careers, a four-fold increase since 1995.” That dates back to about the time that Working Solutions began.
The idea of on-demand contact center services launched decades ago foreshadowed today’s remote workforce movement. It sparked an industry, leading the way to more widespread worker independence—for women and men.