Focus on OIT

Call Center Begins Remote Agent Program

Remote Agents working from home give the Call Center more flexibility in scheduling the agents during hours of peak volume.

In January 2011, when Emory was suffocated by the snow storms and only four agents were initially able to reach the facility, the Call Center realized that it was time to finally implement the long-discussed idea of giving call specialists the ability to work from home.

Tameka Pichardo (Call Center) took the lead on researching the best system to use for setting up remote agents. The business case for the new system showed the benefits of not only dealing with inclement weather but also providing coverage for call-outs (instances where illness or emergencies lead to absences).

In addition to handling call-outs, the system also enables the Call Center to more creatively schedule vacations for the specialists while still maintaining full coverage.

During the pilot, a team was selected to test the system. Each specialist took the equipment home (a laptop and an Avaya One X agent headset) and could be scheduled to log in and provide coverage during any period that was needed. For example, if the queues were relatively slow they could log off early at 2:30 p.m. but then come back on to help cover a critical two-hour answering period from 5 to 7 p.m.

The flexibility created by this new system has greatly increased morale in the Call Center. The Remote Agents understand that when working remotely they will be scheduled to best assist the call volume rather than merely working a nine-to-five day from home.

The Call Center carefully monitors performance statistics and as incentive to be able to join one of the Remote Agent Teams, specialists were required to perform above the minimum standards of performance to qualify. As a result, several agents who had historically done just enough to meet the minimum standards were now performing on a much higher level.

As the program has been monitored, the Remote Agents have been performing at even higher levels because they are not bothered by the typical distractions of being in a large call center. Their focus remains constant.

The initial pilot has finished and Team A (which had four people) has rotated back into the office and Team B is now in place. However, Team A is still allowed to work from home one day a week while Team B is also out. The Call Center agents who are currently trained for remote duty are: Sheila Ackie, Valencia Anderson, Gwynda Cantlow, Nichelle Dooley, Janice Richardson, and Josette Simpkins.

Since implementing the program, the Call Center has met its service level every single day.

The challenge now is to qualify even more agents to be able to participate in the program. There are people who do not want to work remotely, which is fine because the Call Center needs agents in the office too. The goal is to have 50% of the Call Center staff working remotely. This would enable the Call Center to provide more support to the Emory Clinic.

- Bonita Russell, Supervisor, Call Center

IT Briefing on iTunes U

The IT Briefing allows IT professionals on campus to talk to the experts from OIT.

For several years, OIT has hosted a monthly IT Briefing for the purpose of informing the broader IT community at Emory regarding changes, projects, and developments in OIT. Attended by representatives of nearly every department on campus with an IT function, these briefings are coordinated by the Marketing and Communication Team for OIT.

Often, various technical team members and/or managers are asked to speak to the group on a large range of topics from software upgrades to security issues. Each presentation is concluded with sometimes lively discussion from the audience.

In the past, one had to attend the briefings in person to get the information. Although the PowerPoint presentations are available on the OIT website, they can be difficult to interpret without the corresponding audio. However, that has now changed.

We are pleased to announce that the IT Briefings are available on iTunes U! Each broadcast features a marriage of the briefing audio with the presentations. They are made available within a few days after the briefing.

To access the broadcasts, you will need the latest version of iTunes installed on your computer. Login to Exclusively Emory at: to launch the iTunes application. Scroll down to the Office of Information Technology section and click "OIT Videos." Then simply select the briefing you want. You can either play it on your computer by double clicking the track name or download it to your computer or mobile device.

We have the audio recordings of a few past briefings that we are trying to load as well but our goal is to make this content available in the future for those who cannot make the meeting.

Thanks to Steve Bransford (Academic Technology Services), Shannon O'Daniel (Academic Technology Services), and Jorge Ramos (Enterprise Services) for helping to make this possible.

If you wish to attend or present at future IT Briefings, contact Wade Moricle at