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We would like to introduce you to two concepts in which the place of work is being re-defined: Homesourcing and Workports. These challenge the physical presence of your workforce on your premises and even the traditional employment relationship. Read on!
Homesourcing. No, not another word for telecommuting (which is usually restricted to knowledge workers who don't have front line contact with customers, especially not on a rostered basis), Homesourcing is a form of outsourcing - to individuals who work their customer service shifts from their own homes, sometimes even on their own equipment. Industry analyst firm Gartner predicts that one of every 10 US call centre is likely to shift at least partly to home-based agents during the next two years, while researcher IDC estimates there are already 100,000 US agents fielding customer service calls from home.
And it's not just call centres - airline JetBlue also uses homesourced employees in the US. 'All of our reservation agents work at home,' says the founder and chief executive of JetBlue Airways Corp. JetBlue has 700 reservation agents working from their homes with company-supplied personal computers and second phone lines."
"To be sure, their wages of $8.50 to $10 an hour are way above the $2 to $3 a day that call-center operators in India and the Philippines often earn. But JetBlue believes that homesourcing boosts the bottom line in other ways. 'With home working you get more mature people who stay with you," he says. "There isn't constant turnover.'
Workports: Now if you read this and thought ´any port in a storm═ you aren═t far wrong! Workport job design allows employees to work in different locations of an organisation to suit their lifestyle needs - not just for the up and coming and senior excutives, but for anyone.
Borders announced last year that they were launching a corporate "passport" program by which employees could work half the time in a store in one part of the country and the other half at a different store. Though there are many reasons as to why this might be attractive, Borders focus on mature workers who might want to live in a warm climate during the winter and then in the Northeast during the spring and summer. To help these workers, Borders was creating a section on its intranet where employees would be able to sign up to work in different parts of the country. Managers would then pick up the posting and say 'yes' we can take you for those months.
Several larger call centre solutions providers, and an increasing number of organisations, are offering call centre roles which are based in the home, not in a traditional call centre environment. And it is bound to be only a matter of time before more organisations explore Workports. Both of these strategies can give the organisation the ability to leverage some really strong talent pools like parents, semi-retired people and sea-changers. Is your organisation giving thought to new work design like this? You should be!
Book Review - Seeing What's Next
Seeing What's Next
Although this is not directly a book about Strategic Workforce Planning, we knew that "Seeing What's Next - Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change" was going to be an interesting resource for workforce planners when we read the authors recently quoted:
"For example, many bank analysts use the implicit theory that ˝the past is a good predictor of the future.ţ. They continue:
"Management consultants often give advice based on the theory that ˝companies find success when they mimic actions taken by ´best practice═ companies.ţ Oftentimes these assumptions are correct and lead to great insights. But they have limits. The past is only a good predictor of the future when conditions in the future resemble conditions in the past. What works for a firm in one context might not work for another firm in a different context. Furthermore, relying on these implicit theories means people must throw their hands up when unassailably conclusive quantitative data doesn═t exist. And the truth is, data only becomes conclusive when it is too late to take action based on its conclusions."
 We couldn't agree more - and given that labour market conditions in the future won't be like those in the past, we continue to wonder why so many people keep using only the past to plan their future workforce! "Seeing What's Next" applies theories of innovation to predict what may happen in your industry's future - to allow you to anticipate how that might affect your workforce. Also, and probably more importantly, it inspires you to look at the future in new ways - crucial for great workforce planning!

Go to the Book's Site

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity"
Seneca (Roman Philosopher)
Strategic Workforce Planning Network in Melbourne, 25 July 2006

Dearth of skills is death to profits - Australia's shortage of skilled workers has become so chronic that the economy and company profits will be shackled, reports are warning. The Age

No shortage of views on skills shortage - The push to employ foreign workers to alleviate our skills shortage continues to receive a mixed reception. Tha Age

HR & Finance: Make UP and Move On - HR must accept its links with finance so it can effectively support the current transformation of the HR function and its business - HR Mag 

Govt Unsure on Working Mums - Govt attitude to keep women with small children in the workforce has been labelled as ´ambivalent═,. HR Mag 

Skills shortage bites deep for transport dept - Almost 10 per cent of jobs in Queensland's Main Roads department remain vacant as the nation's skills shortage continues to bite CCH

Why should HR professionals care about generating capital? Times are changing as investors look more closely at HR issues. - SHRM

The failure of strategy - Strategic planning is the bedrock of business success, right? Not always. Sometimes the obsession with planning can distort a company's operations. - AFR Boss



Wishful Thinking - our workforce planning white paper

Workforce Tomorrow - Don't miss the report from DEWR or our interpretation of it

Next month we'll be taking a look at ways to engage the executive and make the business case for Strategic Workforce Planning in your organisation - something many of our clients ask for our help with!