Innovations in Remote Work

Innovations in Remote Work

/ Technology, Staffing, Operations management, COVID-19
Innovations in Remote Work

High-powered tools keep remote workers connected and engaged.

There are some super high-powered tools available to ensure that remote workers are as connected and engaged as their in-house counterparts. The great news is we’ve been using them on the corporate side of our businesses for the past five to 10 years—just not so much in our contact centers. The following are a few that are cornerstones of highly successful remote working programs. If you don’t yet have these in place, it’s probably best to hold off on scaling a remote-working model (until you get them in place).

Meeting Platforms

Meeting platforms, such as WebEx, GoToMeeting and Adobe Connect, fire up meetings with ease, and include important functions like screen sharing, white boarding and video. We invite and measure engagement easily during these live sessions—what’s new is developing the skill sets of leaders and trainers to effectively run virtual meetings.

Enterprise Social Networks

Enterprise social networks, including Yammer, Chatter, Google Hangouts and Work.com, give employees access to colleagues far beyond the limits of their own groups or regions. Team members can now gaze across the enterprise and be exposed to the broad and deep network of talent that surrounds them—it’s powerful, inspiring and a highly useful channel for executive messaging and dialogues. Going one step further, innovative companies are collapsing all or most of their internal communications to reside within the central social platform—it becomes the all-in-one go-to place for exchanges. Special work groups and skill sets are easily set up to include as few or as many participants as needed. IM? On the enterprise social network. Group messaging, departmental messaging, enterprise messaging, file sharing, gamification? On the enterprise social network.

Desktop Performance Management

Regardless of where they sit, contact center employees should have real-time visibility into their performance—against their targets, their peers and other teams. Desktop scorecards and dashboards do just that. The technology is not new, and it’s not expensive, but amazingly, only 50% of contact centers have implemented real-time or near real-time desktop performance metrics, according to a large survey in which I recently participated. We know that working remotely can result in gaps—this is one way to close them immediately.

Flexible Scheduling

For contact centers, this is a super-powerful tool and can only be fully leveraged in a work-at-home environment where employees can easily work (and often prefer) split shifts and short shifts. Businesses can completely align their staffing to arrival patterns of voice and non-voice work, by offering small staggered work segments (driven from business requirements) that employees then choose and build on their own. The labor efficiencies for many organizations is comparable to that of the real estate savings.

Video

Its use is expanding, as it should. In-person interactions are extremely valuable and can’t be duplicated in the work-at-home model, but we can get close—with the use of video for face-to-face exchanges. Facial expressions, body language, beaming smiles, animated interactions—all so very meaningful and at our disposal through video technology.

In terms of cultural connectivity and effectively leading in a remote environment, it takes work to get it right. Spoken and unspoken values and actions shape a company’s culture. Do values change in a remote environment? No. The channels, methods and tools we utilize to convey values will change. Managers for sure need to be thoroughly prepared to effectively lead remote or mixed teams—with soft skills, modified business processes and technologies that support them.

The bottom line is that remote working has moved from the “early majority” phase to the “large majority” phase for some segments of most businesses. And it can pack a mean punch—both for employees and for the enterprise. We just need to be sure that we are supporting the shift with business process overhaul and technologies that help everybody work smarter—regardless of where they sit.

Michele Rowan

Michele Rowan

Michele Rowan is President of Work From Home Alliance, which provides consultancy, workshops and conferences exclusively on remote working for contact centers, support functions and enterprise.

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