There’s no doubt the world is moving towards a flexible working environment. Attitudes toward homeworking have changed significantly in recent times, with proponents noting the potential positives: less travel time means more time working, no office distractions and chat about the weekend, and less cost for physical office space. However, for some employers, the prospect of employees working from home is enough to send a tingle down their spine. The image of Netflix permanently on in the background, whilst staff take extended breaks throughout the day, leaves the thought of low productivity levels engrained in their brains.
Studies suggest that employees working from home may break for longer, but in reality, these remote employees work 1.4 more days a month than their office-based counterparts. Another study found employee turnover decreased by as much as 50% in those that were working remotely.
It’s clear that not all job roles can offer the option to work from home, and some employers might prefer to not have it as an option at all. As recent events have taught us, sometimes we have to take a ‘needs must’ approach. Globally, we’re in the process of adapting to significant change, and some can adjust easier than others. So, what are the challenges facing frontline agents and team leaders at a time of significant change, and how can you overcome them?
Motivation > Isolation
The opportunity to sit in a quiet workspace at home to focus on an ever-growing to-do list has its advantages. However, the office work environment provides an opportunity to network, socialize and communicate with colleagues. We’re not just talking about missing the conversation in the kitchen of weekend plans; a sudden change to working alone on a regular basis can impact negatively on mood, motivation and lines of communication. It’s important to:
- Keep communication lines open
- Have solutions in place to keep staff connected
- Ensure staff feel any concerns they have are heard and changes put in place
Attendance and distractions
The home can have its distractions at the best of times, and we’re not just talking about the snack drawer. With new commitments such as home-schooling children, start times and availability are likely to vary. This not only impacts your frontline agents, but team leaders as well. In an office it’s easy to look across the floor and see who is available, to tap someone on the shoulder, or have a quick meeting. However, with staff at home, visibility is limited. Therefore, management need the right tools in place to make schedules flexible, but also to nudge employees should they need to.
Training and support
Giving employees real-time feedback they receive from customers shows how much their actions matter. This shouldn’t change because staff are now working remotely. With no direct access to team members or escalation routes that might ordinarily be available, regular operational processes might be disrupted. Whilst in some cases this may result in longer resolution times, through a well embedded knowledge management solution, your agents not only increase the chances of first contact resolution, but also feel empowered and supported to make decisions.
Issue resolution and employee feedback
It’s not just frontline agents who will be adjusting to a new way of working. Team leaders and management are tasked with resolving issues remotely. Regular two-way communication is essential to ensure that employees are performing their role to a high standard, and they have a platform to feedback on areas they need support. Ordinarily, something that can be easily solved in the office can now be overcome by having a channel to encourage feedback from remote employees back into your organization.
Adapting to the new normal
Though this new way of working is challenging for many businesses, we are seeing several positives from clients, including more empathetic customers, an increase in first contact resolution, and reduction in employee churn due to an improved work-life balance. With the ability to gather employee feedback in real-time, including positive & negative insights, interruptions to processes have been kept to a minimum and both management and agents are able to continue learning and improving.
If you’d like to find out more about gathering employee insight at scale, maintaining training, culture and lines of communication, watch our recent webinar with our partner QStory on-demand here.