As companies realign their workforce during these disruptive times, work-from-home (WFH) is quickly redefining the concept of “business as usual.” Both companies and employees benefit from WFH strategies. A Stanford University study found that WFH employees had improved retention, decreases in sick time and used less PTO, worked a true full shift and took fewer breaks. Companies saved approximately $2,000 per employee in reduced office space and a decrease in attrition.
Another study reports that during the current epidemic, 88% of U.S. companies have either encouraged or required employees to work from home. The overwhelming consensus is that a remote-employee strategy works, resulting in many to all employees transitioning to a permanent remote-work environment.
Contact Center Agents in Transition
Most agents employed in contact centers have the training and skills to transition to a work-from-home environment. In fact, one study found that 86% of those surveyed actually enjoyed working from home. It improved their productivity and eliminated many of the distractions associated with a brick-and-mortar contact center, such as loud co-workers (61%) and unplanned meetings (40%).
One drawback of WFH: Many employees miss the personal relationships found in the office. Communication with fellow agents and supervisors fosters a sense of belonging and keeps everyone informed. One way that contact centers can avoid employee stress due to isolation is by adopting new communication tools.
Adopting New WFM Communication Solutions
Workforce management (WFM) solutions, such as CommunityWFM, have built-in communication channels. Agents can set their own notification channel preferences, commonly an email or SMS text message. Using the browser-based, CommunityWFM Agent Portal, agents can manage their schedules, review adherence, and receive and respond to all related communication. This allows WFH agents to keep connected regardless if they are on-site or at home.
Optimizing Mobile Communications
Mobile phones have become an indispensable tool in modern society. It can become a lifeline for agents who may feel alone and cut off from other staff and supervisors. With the CommunityWFM Everywhere™ mobile application, home agents can sign in and stay connected—whether they are on-shift or off. In the current environment of constant change and quarantine, it is essential that all employees receive timely and accurate corporate communications.
Communications in Action
To keep service levels up, CommunityWFM Everywhere delivers consistent and up-to-date information across the most appropriate channel(s). Unforeseen emergencies, or even workload changes, can cause an intraday schedule adjustment. Agents can alert analysts about unplanned time off and events; simply select the reason, type in a brief explanation, and the application automatically adjusts the agent’s schedule. Analysts have the option to approve or deny requests.
Even agents working from home may occasionally be late for a scheduled shift. CommunityWFM Everywhere allows agents to easily check-in late when necessary. Working seamlessly with the mobile app, the Automated Schedule Attendance Monitor feature enables analysts to see arrival times and check-in status while streamlining the process of managing exceptions.
Agents can quickly check their schedules and status of time-off requests, offers for overtime, voluntary time-off and other events. They can also receive instant schedule notifications and opt-in offers.
Mobile WFM communications help keep home agents engaged in the scheduling process and part of the team. It enables analysts and supervisors the insight to manage a virtual workforce. This capability allows WFH agents to communicate how they prefer, keeps them informed, and extends the reach of all users of the WFM application to a single unified solution.
Todd Cotharin is the COO and Co-founder of CommunityWFM.
He has been involved in all aspects of contact center workforce management for over 30 years. Todd has both designed and influenced a number of WFM solutions on the market today and is a widely recognized industry thought leader.