Over the past couple of decades, employees have increased their demand for flexibility and adaptability in the workplace, through remote work or work-from-home policies. However, once Covid-19 took the globe by its grasp in early 2020, the virus forced both employers and employees to work remotely, as cities and businesses shut down.
At the beginning of the pandemic, 31% of employees worked from home at least part-time. By March 16-19, 2020, that number grew to 45% and then grew again to 62% by April 2, according to Gallup. Additionally, it has been estimated that U.S. employers saved $30 billion daily during the Covid-19 pandemic, with expansively offered remote opportunities.
As with most things, the longer you do something, the easier it gets. Working from home is no different.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, it’s estimated that by the end of 2021, 25-30% of all employees will be working from home several days a week on a permanent basis even after the pandemic subsides. Further, Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics states that “…a typical employer can save about $11,000/year for every person who works remotely half of the time.”
Like any workplace policy, employers should adopt best practices when it comes to remote workers, whether now, during Covid-19 or post-pandemic. With respect to remote call centers, let’s specifically look at some best practices to adopt, whether you are new to managing remote agents or you have a successful track record of doing so.
Preparation is the key to success
Alexander Graham Bell famously said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” When shifting employees to remote status, or growing your remote call center staff, be sure they are prepared to work at home. Encourage them to create a dedicated workplace, instead of working while sitting on the couch or at the kitchen table.
Also, make sure they have the right technology to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively. For example, do your employees have a strong enough internet or WiFi connection at home to avoid downtime and disruption? Do employees have the appropriate security measures in place to avoid any compromise or breach of customer information? Do they need a headset? Make sure your team has all the necessary tools to perform at high levels, no matter their location.
Finally, offer training to your remote team, on the company’s goals, their specific job, and on the technology used. The better trained your team is, the better they will cope with working from home without missing a beat.
Keep the lines of communication open
Working from home can often feel lonely, without opportunities to chat with co-workers or be pulled into a meeting with a manager. However, through technology, you can open the lines of communication and collaboration through tools like Zoom, Trello, Google Docs, or Dropbox Business to encourage teamwork while staying plugged in to all things business. By attending meetings virtually, sharing documents securely, and collaborating digitally, through daily check-ins or otherwise, employees will have the support needed to feel part of a team.
Another way to keep the lines of communication open with a remote call center is to reward employees for performance through an incentive program. When creating an incentive program for remote workers, stay flexible and creative. For example, you may want to offer preferential scheduling, team-wide recognitions, or additional paid time off, to keep your remote team engaged and happy.
Measure, measure, measure
Just because you have employees working “off-campus” does not mean that you get a break from measuring company KPIs. To understand who is hitting their goals and who may need more training, be sure to implement analytical tools and reporting systems to track employee activity and metrics.
For example, you may implement call recording or call monitoring to monitor quality assurance among your remote agents. Additionally, you may integrate call disposition reports or outbound metric reports to determine whether your remote agents are meeting their benchmarks.
Encourage healthy boundaries
Mental health has risen to the top of employer concerns during the Covid-19 pandemic. With this in mind, employers need to offer training on setting healthy boundaries when working from home. For example, when you work from home, there’s no leaving the call center at the end of the day. Instead, work is always there.
By setting boundaries on work hours, employees can still be productive and efficient while having enough downtime to rest and recharge. Additionally, circling back to preparation and communication, the more prepared an employee is to work from home and the more an employee is plugged into the business, the employee will have less anxiety about doing their job during these precarious times—ensuring better mental health.
Want to learn more about how to support your remote call center workforce? Let the professionals at Replicant help you create best practices.
Visit us at Replicant.ai to learn more!