Are your agents working remotely or is your remote working?
The year 2020 started with trending topics around advancements in technology, AI, conversational chatbots, AR & more. The tech community was constantly working on new gadgets and technologies to be launched, marketers were working on creating content to catch eyeballs of consumers & enterprises to buy and experiment the new concepts and business teams were working on new business models & revenue streams.
All of this suddenly came to halt due to the novel coronavirus (COVID19) which revolutionized the way we used to operate. Travel, manufacturing & many came to a standstill. Social distancing became the new way of living, focus remained primarily on essential services, healthcare & security during these trying times.
Non-essential service providers such as insurance, e-commerce, banking pivoted to self-service to help customers get answers to their queries, however this did not hold for long as customers preferred speaking with support agents.
We constantly keep talking about cloud technologies, migrating to work from home wasn’t really that simple.
The history of work from home
Back in the 17th & 18th century, work from home was far simplified than it is today. Englishmen during the medieval era used to live in long row houses, which included peasants & livestock in the front or the back yard and the center of the house used to be a kitchen & living area and either end of the house used to be their resting & sleeping rooms (personal bed rooms). Not just that, even merchants used to trade from their homes.
Time & again, we’ve seen enormous models of working from home or earning from home.
Some of the examples can be:
- Grocery shops
- Patio parties
And much more…
We all see these examples time & again in our day to day lives.
So how is this different from corporate work from home
One of the common things in the examples above is that they’re entrepreneurs and run small business out of their owned properties. The game changes when we try to replicate this model in a corporate environment where the count of people increases dramatically and managing workforce along with productivity & quality becomes challenging.
Things to keep in mind while implementing work from home:
1. Trust: Trust is a two-way street and it starts from the employer. Managers & supervisors should believe in their teams and give adequate responsibility & ownership to make teams accountable.
2. Decision Making: Organizations should setup a clear decision making matrix for employees to avoid ambiguity & infinite email chains for making decision on topics which are crucial to business.
3. Knowledge Sharing: One of the challenges of remote working is that employees slowly feel that they’re not connected to the organisations. Using a knowledge management software to share organization knowledge & updates can be of great help here.
4. Flexibility: Working from home isn’t as easy as it seems, employees are distracted by kids at home, daily chores and more. Boredom & loneliness are other factors. Employers should allow flexibility even while team members are working from home.
5. SOP Adherence: One of the key hurdles while working from home can be adherence to SOPs especially for process driven operations such as banking, telecom, etc. Here a decision tree software can be helpful to create next best action guides for remote agents.
Technological Challenges during work from home for:
- Machine availability: Most of the contact centers globally work on desktops and not laptops, this leads to another challenge is that many of the workforce members of your contact center might not have a personal machine on them. Organisations can help with a BYOD or easy EMI plans to help agents buy their own machines.
- Internet Bandwidth: Solid internet bandwidth can prove to be a major challenge especially for support agents who work on technical troubleshooting and even to work on enterprise level applications that choke a lot of bandwidth. Employers should empower remote support agents with options to install fiber & broadband connections for seamless conversations.
- Security Concerns: A lot of banking and compliance driven process require data security of customers and this becomes challenging while working from home. While we’ve seen cloud telephony & CRM systems that work remotely, organizations should install a work from home platform using which entire sessions are recorded and can be live streamed or viewed later to check all the activities.
- Hiring & Training of new agents: Hiring is an on-going activity, while working remotely L&D teams need to setup a virtual induction, training & assessment mechanism using an LMS Platform while helps new hires up & running with all the required knowledge while working from home. Assessments can be conducted for all employees tenured and freshers to check process health.
- Findability & Actionability: With tons of information to process, it becomes challenging for agents to find the right information at the right time by going through documents, PDFs & HTML pages. Empower support agents with a Knowledge Management Platform to keep them updated with organization wide information and regular updates.
This pandemic has forced us to go out of our comfort zone and explore new ways to work.
Over the last few weeks, we’re now used to working from home and for all we may know that this might be the new way of working if not for all industries but for a lot of functions across departments.