As of May 2021, nearly 70% of companies reported they plan to fully adopt a remote work or hybrid work model. Many prominent companies have already made the switch indefinitely, including brands like Adobe, Salesforce, Spotify, and Twitter.
In a survey conducted by FlexJobs, 58% of respondents claimed they want a fully remote job post-pandemic, while 39% prefer a hybrid arrangement. And, only 3% want to return to fully in-person work. That’s 97% of the workforce who want some form of remote work arrangements!
But, for companies who only recently adopted a remote work environment, they’re playing a whole new ball game. Remote work, though in many ways beneficial, brings with it unique challenges for both employees and employers.
As illustrated in the graph below from Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report, remote employees primarily struggle with collaboration, communication, and loneliness while working from home. These issues then contribute to larger concerns for employers.
When employees feel disconnected, lonely, and frustrated over collaboration and communication, you’re stuck with a potentially weakened company culture and lower employee engagement. So, we’ve compiled 4 clear rules to live by in your remote call center to keep agents engaged and productive while they work from home.
Rule 1: Set consistent rhythms for your team.
Remote work limits your team’s ability to collaborate and communicate consistently. You miss out on the organic collaboration that happens in the office when you can’t share impromptu lunches, coffee breaks, and deskside brainstorms. And, if each of your agents work with different routines, you’ll lose touch fast.
Routines are healthy and help your contact center agents anticipate when you will be communicating and when they should be prepared to discuss workflow, performance, and goals. To help your team stay connected, set clear routines and a consistent rhythm for your team.
Consider using the general schedule curated by Harvard Business Review to stay in touch as you work remote and ask your employees useful questions:
Monday: Hold a performance cycle meeting for the team that covers the following.
- What impact did we have last week and what did we learn?
- What commitments do we have this week? Who is on point for each?
- How can we help each other with this week’s commitments?
- What are the areas where we should experiment to improve performance this week?
Tuesday-Thursday: Have at least one individual meeting with each of your team members.
- What challenges are you facing?
- How can I help you tackle problems this week?
- Where would you like to grow?
Friday: Focus on reflection in a concluding team meeting.
- Share metrics and insights.
- Are you feeling motivated?
- Where did they struggle with motivation, and where did you thrive?
Rule 2: Keep focused on your employees’ well-being.
It’s tempting to expect your contact center agents to work any time of the day when you adopt a remote work model. You want to offer your customers exceptional service at all hours. But, your employees need a break. Your remote workers may find it challenging to switch off from working at the end of the day. This can lead to burnout and other physical and mental health issues.
Support your agents’ remote work well-being with some of the following tactics:
- Make sure your employees are taking regular breaks. Working while being at home blurs the line between work hours and the end of the day. Who hasn’t felt guilty for taking ten minutes during this time? A mandatory lunch-break can give people some much-needed rest.
- Get your employees away from their desk with company activities. Set-up competitions, like a step competition or a virtual 5k. Or, challenge your team to post photos from some time spent in nature.
- Consider adding a wellness benefit to your benefits package, allotting employees some funds to get a gym membership or a healthy meal plan subscription.
Rule 3: Provide agents with the best tools to work productively from home.
When companies went remote in the spring of 2020, millions of employees were stuck working from home without the proper technology and tools. Let me tell ya, it is not fun to spend the whole day sitting in bed working on a clunky laptop.
It’s unfair to hold the same expectations for your agents as they would have in the office if they don’t have the same resources. Here are some ways you can keep your agents productive in their remote work:
- If you have the budget, provide agents with a technology and home office stipend when they join the team. They may need to purchase some things (a desk, a chair, a quality keyboard and mouse, etc.) to make their home office space useful.
- Invest in collaboration and project management tools to improve communication between team members.
- Choose a reliable cloud technology platform to support your call center team and your customers. Make sure it includes clear reporting tools and allows you to give coaching tips remotely.
Rule 4: Encourage employees to pursue their passions through side projects.
Keep remote employees engaged by giving them freedom to personally invest in your company. Encourage agents to create and work on projects that align with company goals. Each of your team members has unique skills and gifts to bring to the table. Your team can only benefit by giving each employee a chance to use those skills and gifts.
Plus, if your remote employees invest in your company’s growth, they’re more devoted to your mission and purpose. Consider the following ideas to keep remote employees engaged in their work:
- Set up competitions for employees to bring forth new ideas for projects.
- Task groups of agents to tackle problems and inefficiencies your team is facing to set up fresh processes.
- Discuss development plans with each employee so you know what their goals, hopes, and dreams are. Talk with each agent to see how their unique passions and gifts can be used to benefit your team and their future growth.