It’s estimated that 75 million U.S. employees (56% of the non-self-employed workforce) could work-from-home according to Global Workplace Analytics. While we’re certainly headed in that direction, companies still have a lot to figure out about making sure communication, collaboration, and employee engagement are on point.
Visibility is the key to communication, collaboration, and productivity with remote work management. You can manage productivity using support desk tools, so you get full visibility. Remote managers can stay engaged with remote workers to avoid feelings of isolation that can lead to productivity and focus problems.
Setting up remote managers with clear visibility into each remote worker through video engagement and web-based portal call support options ensures that you have multiple ways to join calls, help agents, and provide team support through video chat meetings. This enables peers to provide support to team members, which fosters comradery and better work.
Few businesses under the normal circumstances have the planning and development experience to implement remote support centers. But with everyone operating in the new normal of social distancing because of COVID-19, the need to create and implement a remote call center project while avoiding the hundreds of potential problems requires support from a proven and experienced remote support services partner.
If you’re moving to a fully remote call center workforce, you need everyone up and operational on day one with both new and seasoned employees ready to roll and confident with all the tools they need. But before we tackle the tools and technology needed to make that happen, you need a plan in place for team engagement to keep everyone on track, productive, and happy.
Team Engagement Planning for a Remote Support Team
Trust is an enormous part of the success of a remote support center workforce. Since trust is bilateral between remote agents and the manager, that trust is built on employee engagement processes facilitated by technology.
Although managers have to trust that the remote agent is working, and the agent has to trust that the manager will be there to help with any challenges, technology is only part of building that trust.
Managers can build trust by developing communication protocols based on specific benchmarks, challenges, feedback points, praise, and rewards. Without this understanding and communication, remote workers will feel like cogs in a machine rather than fully engaged members of a team. A system that emphasizes first call resolution (FCR), adherence to schedule, and other metrics won’t produce a team that is driven by continuous improvement because they will be focused on doing the bare minimum.
The right approach to engagement is to empower your remote agents to be part of developing this process so they feel they are heard valued and have some level of personal control by involving them in business decisions affecting:
- Their processes and work environment
- Identification and selection of new training topics to put them in the driver seat for improving FCR (this may be a combination of data, technology, and process)
- The use of analytics to improve processes for forecasting accuracy (agents needed at any given time) and self-service accessibility parameters.
Engagement also helps to take advantage of the benefit of flexible scheduling that a remote support center team provides. By involving them directly in these decisions (based on the analytics and historical data) your team can select their own shifts based on pre-established work rules to control their own work/life balance.
Consider cloud-based call center software features that enable you to empower agents to select their preferred shifts (within need and skill parameters). You can also use using gaming science and psychology to boost agent productivity while reinforcing positive behaviors and teaching new skills by:
- Implementing a virtual leaderboard and points system to track and measure agent status and advancement based on different milestones and accomplishments.
- Offering quarterly cash-out incentives for milestones like productivity an FCR
- Giving gift cards or branded gifts to agents based on KPIs
Employee engagement is a process of constant refinement where you measure what works and what doesn’t. By involving your remote support team in the development of this process, you’re positioned to start with winning options that deliver results in terms of productivity, engagement, and improved customer experience.
Increased awareness of cost-saving opportunities in work-from-home
There are quite a few positive benefits to a remote support center workforce beyond the work life balance control for agents. Just a few of the benefits for the remote workforce, managers, and the company include:
- Keeping top talent
- Reducing Capex and Opex costs (no offices or onsite infrastructure)
- Employee costs savings via travel and meal costs (gas, lunch, parking, etc.)
- Elimination of employee commute times
- Improving customer experience and time to resolution
Regardless of how long we have work-from-home mandates, most employers will find that they have major incentives for not going back to the old in-office ways. According to the Global Workplace Analytics estimates cited earlier:
- A typical employer can save about $11,000/year for every person who works remotely half of the time.
- Employees can save between $2,500 and $4,000 a year (working remotely half the time) and even more if they can move to a less expensive area and work remotely full time.
- Work-from-home initiatives will save U.S. employers over $30 billion dollars a day during the COVID-19 crisis.
This may be the tipping point for remote work where businesses,and especially support centers, see there is no going back. This is especially true when you factor in access to skilled agents via a support partner for cost effective scalability. In the next installment of this blog post series, we’ll look at the technology you need to make all this possible. The key will be to make it all transparent, intuitive, and supportive of remote support team productivity and happiness while also continually improving the customer experience.