A leading international business services provider is recruiting people across the Highlands and Islands to take part in an innovative home working project.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has been working closely with Arise UK and their client, Shop Direct Group, to promote the highly skilled people available across the region who may be interested in home working.
Following a number of HIE supported home working pilot projects across the region a number operators are rolling out the model, offering opportunities in our more remote areas. There are significant benefits, both to the businesses in efficiency savings and in flexible working for the workers.
Arise UK has already recruited a number of people across the area who are enjoying flexible working hours from the comfort of their own homes. One of these workers is Ron Turner, a former sales rep who now works from home on the Isle of Bute.
"I moved back to Bute from Cumbernauld around 3 and a half years ago with my wife and two young boys," said Ron. "The idea was that I would take early retirement and stay at home with the boys. I get bored quite easily and after our youngest began nursery I started thinking of going back to work. Unfortunately, there aren't a huge amount of job opportunities in rural areas, especially well paid, quality jobs, but by chance I stumbled across Arise Virtual Solutions through the JobCentre Plus website. At first I was sceptical, but decided to give it a go."
Since then, Ron has gone from working a couple of hours a week to around 30 hours, handling enquiries and orders while fitting work around his home life with his two sons.
"The best part of working for Arise is the total flexibility. Really you can work from anywhere as long as you have broadband and a phone. Being able to choose which hours to work is also a real benefit. I work an hour or so in the morning, then pick up my youngest boy, maybe get another hour of work done in the afternoon and finish with a few more hours until 10 or 11 pm in the evening when they are in their beds. The only expense I had was buying a new phone which accepted a headset and that was it.
"I just can't stress just how strong an opportunity this is for people who want to work in rural areas or who have other commitments," continued Ron. "People looking for a second income, those with young families, or even just people who live in an area with few opportunities can find home working an excellent solution. There are real benefits which come from working from home and the support and training, mostly done online from Arise is excellent."
Arise enable people to work from home and establish their own 'Virtual Services Corporation', which is then linked through Arise to deliver customer services to large companies, such as Shop Direct.
Carly Brunsden of Arise UK commented: "There is a long established teleworking experience in the Highlands and Islands which lends itself well to our model.
"We have a four year contract with Shop Direct Group, the largest home shopping organisation in the UK with well known brands including Kays, Littlewoods, Empire Stores, Very, Woolworths and many more you will have heard of. We have been impressed with the rich range of skills and abilities of people in the region, and this lends itself perfectly to establishing this flexible alternative to the traditional contact centre model. We are hoping to attract over 50 people and have a requirement to further increase numbers on an ongoing basis as we add new clients in the UK."
Joyce MacLennan, Head of Financial and Business Services at HIE commented: "Working from home is a model which is likely to offer considerable opportunities to people across the Highlands and Islands. There are benefits to the employer, in terms of reduced costs and carbon emissions, and it provides exciting prospects for workers particularly in remote areas where transport can be a problem."
Adrian Millington, Head of Outsourcing at Shop Direct Group, said "Our focus at Shop Direct is providing exceptional customer service and from my own experience of working in the Argyll area, the skills and experience of the local people are perfect for meeting the needs of the home working business model."
The latest recruitment round has taken place on Bute where there are a number of local people with experience working in the sector.
Colin Mclean, Senior Development Manager at HIE's Argyll and the Islands area office, said: "HIE is keen to offer local people the widest opportunities to use their skills and this gives them the option to look at alternative working models. HIE recognises the specific employment challenges faced on the island and working together with Business Gateway, Jobcentre Plus and Skills Development Scotland, is keen to look at new opportunities and innovative ways of working."