Global Workplace Analytics recently conducted a survey and found that 77 percent of remote workers want to continue to work from home at least once per week when the pandemic is over. The research firm estimates 25 to 30 per cent of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
Quickly shifting employees to temporarily work from home is one thing, but a permanent work-from-home policy is quite another.
As companies make the move home for some of their staff, common concerns need to be addressed. Companies are unsure of how to recruit and train agents remotely for good results, as well as how to keep employees engaged and focused.
It is possible to build a positive, empowered, and engaged team culture even with employees who work from home. With decades of experience helping clients set up, enable, and manage remote workforces, we’ve developed a set of best practices and key questions that can help companies make distributed workforces a vital part of their business. Here’s a list of common questions (and answers) to get you started.
Our company will be managing remote contact centre employees for the first time, what do we need to know about in managing a remote employee’s output and daily operations?
There are many aspects of a remote workforce that need to be addressed. When preparing your work-from-home operations, determine the answers to these key questions first. The answers will be unique to each company.
- How do I ensure visibility of the workload my remote agents have, such as what their average handle time, wrap up, speed to answer is?
- Are they managing their breaks effectively and are those breaks being taken at the appropriate time so as to ensure optimal resourcing?
- What are the ways managers can ensure optimal employee engagement whilst they are operating remotely and no longer directly involved in a bigger team?
- How will I answer our agents’ questions in real time and which tools will help agents answer the client’s questions?
Pro tip: Make sure that whomever you partner with or if you are going to manage this yourself that there is an appropriate tool/solution that can provide you with this important management information in real time or as close as possible. Any solution must include some element of Workforce Management that will allow you to roster the appropriate amount of staff at the right times throughout the day to manage the workload. It’s essential to have a tool that will enable the team members to collaborate quickly and efficiently, communicate directly with supervisors and get answers to any questions they may have quickly.
- Will the agent get access to the information that they need to manage a client’s request in a timely manner or are there delays/issues in accessing the systems required?
- How do I retain the knowledge development and transfer within my team if they’re not working closely together?
- How can I ensure I can listen to how my agents are managing their interactions with my clients if I am not there with them?
- How can I share the Management Reporting information I have with my team to ensure they understand how we are performing, what is working and what may need improvement?
- How do I coordinate ongoing training and development that is effective and valued by the agents?
Pro tip: Having some sort of Knowledge Base is invaluable in providing your agents with quick and easy access to information that is relevant and proven to help in answering client enquiries. Having regular stand up meetings with your team either at the beginning of the day and/or at the end will enable you to share information, develop skills and encourage employee engagement. This information and the discussions you have will help you devise and implement any ongoing training required to address identified skills gaps.
- How do I ensure that the network connectivity from my prospective agent’s home is up to scratch and will support the applications I need them to use? Will someone test it for me?
- How do I manage the compliance requirements I had when I ran my team from our contact centre site or when I outsourced it to a partner with a B&M centre?
- Am I allowed to ask a prospective employee if they have a suitable environment and can I check its compliance?
- Is the agent’s workplace as ergonomically suitable as their workstation would have been if they were in a B&M centre?
- If the agent used two screens in the office can they use two screens when working from home? Will the company use their own equipment and ship it to the agent or is the agent expected to provide their own? How do I ensure it is up to spec?
Pro tip: When working with a reputable partner like TTEC we will ensure that any network connectivity is tested and suitable for the type of functions being performed. Our WAH solutions are all compliant with requirements such as PCI, SOC 1&2 and GDPR.
Which aspects of working in a brick-and-mortar contact centre should we recreate for remote employees?
Huddles or stand-up meetings should still be scheduled for the beginning of the day and at the end of the day to discuss expectations, what happened, what worked, what didn’t and provide a forum for discussion. Regular team meetings should be calendarized to ensure agents are able to learn and develop and leverage the skills and experience of other agents within their own team.
Ensure there are the same breaks scheduled into an agent’s time as there would be if he or she were in the office. Make sure they go off-line and walk away from their desks and use the restroom as they would in the office. Make sure agents are back on and ready to go at the end of their allotted break time.
Make sure the things you did for fun in the centre are re-created as much as possible in a virtual environment. For example, each agent shares details about their local pizza shop and once a month you order a pizza of the agent’s choice for lunch on the last day of the month. Maintain the employee engagement practises as much as you can within the environmental constraints.
Is attrition an issue for remote employees and if so, what advice do you have for reducing it?
Attrition is definitely an issue for agents who feel disconnected from their supervisors and other team members. Even though they are remote workers you must do as much as you can to make them feel as “connected” to their team as possible.
They must have access to the latest information and be able to share this information readily. A communication medium such as Microsoft Teams or Slack should be in place to facilitate quick and easy discussions.
A knowledgebase or learning platform goes a long way in helping in this area. Listen to the remote team members and make sure you understand what isn’t working and develop solutions to fix it quickly. What is affecting them is no doubt affecting your customers directly or indirectly. Regular training and knowledge development goes a long way in ensuring agents feel connected and that they are improving their skills.