Homeworkers of the world arise

Do you want to work from home, be self-employed, but not have to worry about finding your next client? Then Arise might be for you.

It offers a new way of working – you are self-employed, but Arise channels customer services and sales work to you through the contracts it negotiates with a wide range of organisations.

Arise began life in the US with a big focus on helping people with disabilities into work. Even now, 10 per cent of Arise workers have a disability, but it has spread its network to encompass other groups of people and other parts of the world, including the UK.

In the last 10 months, the number of Arise workers based in the UK has increased significantly, says Dickon Moon, Director of Strategic Sourcing Development & EMEA.

There are three Arise offices covering the UK and Ireland – one in London, one in the North West and one in South West Ireland. Over 1,000 people in the UK now work for Arise and it aims to grow that number by 1,000-2,000 by the end of 2011.

A large part of that growth has come through a very proactive recruitment process, led by Moon who has a background in recruitment.

This has included using social media, a big PR campaign and getting the support of local MPs as well as targetting particular regions and niche groups, such as working mums.

Moon says working mums are a good target as they are likely to have “a lot of life experience”. “Arise wants to reach groups of people for whom homeworking is not a last resort; people for whom homeworking is an enabler in their busy lives,” he says.

Reward

Some people who work through Arise do so full time; others work part time or on the side of their main job. You can work a minimum of 15 hours a week, but many Arise workers do 50 or 60 hours or more. When people are first accepted as Arise workers, they have to create their own limited company. They then do an online training course which is self-paced and takes between nine and 14 days. This is followed by client classes which they may have to pay up to £50 for. This money is refunded up to four or six times over when they finish the classes, which take up to six weeks. The idea is that they are rewarded for staying the course.

Workers are then directed to the Arise portal where they are matched up with the work that suits them. Moon says it is important that when they register they include all their skills and experience, including things like linguistic ability, as this will widen the type of job available to them.

Workers are paid per call. Unlike in a traditional call centre they are only paid for the time they spend on the phone. The amount they are paid varies between £6.30 an hour and £11 an hour, depending on their experience. All calls are incoming and are scheduled for the time the worker has booked to be available. Arise’s software locks down their computers so that it is secure for clients and workers are focused on the job. Workers can deduct broadband and line rental costs as business expenses.

The work is very flexible and home-based. Workers give their availability in two-week blocks and half hour segments. They can swap their hours with colleagues through Arise’s portal if they have a last-minute emergency. “As long as you let us know and don’t do it repeatedly, it is very flexible,” says Moon.

Workers are not alone. In the corner of their screen they are connected to their local performance facilitator and other agents in case they need support with a call. The organisation also has plans for regular newsletters to create a greater sense of community.

New contracts

Arise is not just increasing the number of people who work for it. It is also expanding the range of companies it works with. It has just won two big contracts – one with Shop Direct, which includes Littlewoods and Woolworths, and another with Interval, a top-end time share exchange company. It is in talks with several others.

Moon says some people are still wary of such a different style of working. For this reason, Arise has been working with local MPs to reassure people that Arise’s work is bona fide and that it has a long history of working with reputable companies. All of Cornwall’s MPs are working with the company, for instance. Arise has targeted Cornwall because it will be the first UK region to have superfast broadband.

Moon says he is very passionate about Arise’s way of working. Arise’s clients, he says, get a broader range of skills than they could get from recruiting in any one area. For Arise workers, the benefits are clear, he adds. “It is very different, but I believe it will increasingly be the way people find work in places they could not previously and that it will help them gain extra control over their working lives.”

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