After a successful career in sales, Ron Turner took early retirement and relocated to Bute from mainland Scotland five years ago. He wanted to give his two little boys an opportunity for a different kind of upbringing in an island haven just 15 miles long and four miles wide.
Ron grew up on Bute and had originally planned to devote all of his time to raising his sons. One was just a toddler and the other was preparing to start primary school when they moved to the island. The last thing on his mind initially was taking a job which involved homeworking or customer service. However he began to consider part-time employment which he could combine with child care.
“I was very sceptical about homeworking at first," Ron admits. "I thought it was all about stuffing envelopes or sales promotion and it didn’t strike me as very professional. But I looked at Arise and I saw that what they were doing was very, very professional and I decided to give it a go. Being in Bute meant there were limited opportunities for quality employment. A lot of work here is seasonal.”.
“Homeworking turned out to be one of the best opportunities I’ve had in a long time. The flexibility it offered me for family life was the best thing. I’m a single parent now and I couldn’t have looked after the two boys on my own without this job.”
Ron, whose first role was handling calls for customers of a home-shopping business, says that besides flexibility, the other thing he values highly is the standard of training he received. “I’ve worked for big blue-chip corporations, but the training I’ve received from Arise is amongst the highest quality I’ve ever had,” he says.
Arise homeworkers span a wide range of ages and background, with quite a few in their 60s. “We have to accept that people are living longer and need or want to work longer," says Ron. "Homeworking gives older people a tremendous opportunity and it’s great for people with physical disabilities too. Being in a wheelchair is not a drawback to homeworking, for instance. You just need to be able to handle customer calls in a professional manner.”
He adds that although people work remotely from all over the country, they form strong collaborative bonds and friendships through online chat rooms. Ron’s managerial skills led to him being given a promoted post as a Performance Facilitator with Arise, supporting customer advisers with difficult calls.
“Some members of the public have a perception that homeworkers can’t do their job professionally but our screens are viewed all the time, managers can see what work we’re doing and we have very strict guidelines and excellent training. We’re very professional and we take a pride in what we do,” he says.
The idea of career progression in homeworking came as a surprise to Ron. “I thought I’d be taking calls for all time to come, I didn’t realise I could progress. The message needs to get out there that there are opportunities to progress in a career as a homeworker,” he says.
Ron believes demand for homeworkers will increase because it provides businesses with a flexible way of scaling up their customer service operation to meet demand peaks. “We get ‘urgent service’ requests two to three times a week," he says. "It’s better for companies to have people at home they can call upon than to call in contact centre staff at short notice.”
Ron says that finding a rewarding professional role which gives him a flexible work-life balance has been a godsend for him and his family.
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