Once thought of as a perk, work-from-home has become an essential part of sustaining business continuity. The influx of people and technology staying put even as lockdowns ease shows a shifting comfort level in remote workforces.
When the pandemic first spread, companies were primarily focused on creating and maintaining temporary at-home associate experiences to let employees continue their jobs while maintaining proper social distancing rules. It turns out the move had a positive effect on productivity, employee morale, and cost savings for many businesses. So how can executives ensure employee excellence for those who may not want to return to the office?
To prep for a hybrid or completely remote experience, here are a few best at-home practices that carried contact centers through crisis. These human and technological strategies help foster a highly productive and engaged work-from-home future.
The People Side
Regular and personalized contact is important for managing remote employees and helping them feel part of the team. Here are some examples:
Enable virtual collaboration
Make it easy for associates to reach out to other members on their team and across the organization.
- Social collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Yammer enable employees to easily communicate and share information with each other on a messaging platform.
- Other collaboration tools such as Jira and Basecamp are helpful for staying up-to-date on the progress of projects, and to share documents and other content.
- Create an “expert library” of employee profiles based on subject matter expertise to help associates quickly locate key employees to resolve customer issues quickly and efficiently.
- Use AI-powered tools to rapidly search knowledgebases and serve up recommendations faster.
Enhance the workday
Use mobile devices and apps to give associates more flexibility and efficiency.
- Help associates better manage scheduling and compensation. A mobile app can alert associates of volume spikes with bonuses for those who work on short notice.
- Use predictive analytics and forecasting technology to help team leaders make informed decisions about staffing levels.
- Allow associates to review their work hours and paychecks on their mobile devices.
Maintain company culture
Help employees feel that they’re part of the company wherever they are.
- Maintain daily huddles with teams. Ask all employees to use video conferencing for their daily communications.
- Appoint an individual or form a committee to come up with virtual team-building activities that are connected to and uphold your company values.
- In addition to formal team-building activities, acknowledge birthdays, anniversaries, and upcoming special occasions when groups get together.
- Invite senior leaders to come to group meetings, celebrate wins, and share information with teammates.
Provide anytime-anywhere access to learning and training
Associates can get a hands-on learning experience at their convenience.
- Use AI-simulated learning to allow associates to interact with voice-enabled bots that replicate customer interactions, then immediately provide tailored feedback, coaching, and performance results for continuous improvements.
- Have managers provide video or chat coaching (depending on context and preference) to personalize interactions.
- Let associates “choose their own adventure” from a menu of immersive learning experiences.
The Technology Side
With the right resources and support, associates can deliver fast and reliable support whether they’re in a traditional contact center or working from home in different countries across the globe.
The first step is ensuring that associates assess the performance and durability of their desktops/laptops and internet, as online activity will increase heavily.
- Discuss internet usage and schedule with family/roommate/significant other to prevent slowdowns.
- Plug desktop or laptop into router with ethernet cord for faster connection if possible.
- Connect to your organization’s secure VPN and run any required security software for continuous upkeep.
- Evaluate your desktop/laptop’s ‘performance’ settings to gauge if it has an acceptable processing speed.
Accessible employee knowledgebase
Build awareness around knowledgebases, discussion forums, and other internal resources that associates can use when they need assistance or feel isolated.
- Share best performing behavior throughout the organization.
- Collaborate on problems that are facing the at-home community.
- Discuss issues with people who are facing similar challenges.
- Create gated discussions where associates can freely discuss concerns.
Use automated capabilities to deflect simple requests and processes that free associates up for more meaningful, more human, work. These tools include:
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA), an unattended software combined with AI and machine learning that can handle high-volume, repetitive tasks. It’s key for back-office tasks.
- Robotic Desktop Automation (RDA), an attended software that simplifies and automates business processes and transactions on a desktop.
- Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA), AI chat assistants that can leverage knowledgebases and insight from past interactions to manage simple customer questions.
Allow associates to access training, tools, and information from virtually everywhere.
- Gates and guards are used to ensure the data is not available to public.
- Provide with a dedicated circuit so associates can perform in a secure environment.
- Associates can route and answer calls, eliminating need for phones and enabling flexibility.
- Access the cloud across different platforms in a cross-device environment.
- If overwhelmed, employers can use cloud to access a hiring pool from different counties and time zones.
Humanity and technology will seize the day
The way we do work has changed. A decentralized, remote workforce not only needs the tools to do their jobs, they need each other. It’s easy to get caught up in the race to digitize and show off flashy technology.
But the best practices for at-home is not so much letting technology lead the way, rather let it run side by side with your remote workforce