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Call-Center Company has Workers Answering Phone at Home



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NEWTON, Utah (AP) -- Convergys Corp., a call-center specialist with a major presence in Utah, allows some employees to answer the phone at home.

"Instead of driving 35 minutes, I can walk into the kitchen at 5:45 and start dinner," said Janice Gualtier, who lives in Newton, about 16 miles from Logan. "I can get my personal needs taken care of because I'm not wasting time on the road."

Convergys, which has 3,800 employees in Utah, offers customer service and billing services for companies.

The Logan area was chosen last summer as the first site for the home program. Ogden followed in December and other Convergys sites in Utah could be next.

At-home employees still are required to go to the office at least once a week. But if a certain performance level is reached, they can check in once a month.

Steve Short, the director of operations for Convergys in Logan, said he's noticed more benefits than just the lack of a commute, including more accommodations for employees with disabilities or children, flexible work schedules and higher productivity.

"In many of the areas, my home agents far outperform the employees at the site," he said.

Shelli Rivera of Logan has a 16-year-old daughter with a kidney disease. Working from home enables her to respond to her daughter when needed.

"If I have to run off to the doctor, I can. I don't have to wait for a phone call to get to me," Rivera said.

She was nervous when she joined the home-based program. A Convergys employee for four years, she went from sharing space with co-workers to being alone in her basement.

"I was very scared at first, because if I had any questions, I couldn't get up and ask someone," she said. "But that quickly went away."

Short believes working from home is good for health.

"They can fix something in their own kitchens instead of eating fast food or vending-machine food," he said. "And they don't have to share headsets."

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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