Keeping Homeworking Colleagues Engaged And Productive
Have your teams transitioned to homeworking due to the current crisis? If it’s your first excursion into homeworking, you’ve probably come to realise that there’s a lot more to work-from-home (WFH) than setting up reliable phone and internet connections. Paul Whymark, Chief Operating Officer of Sensee, shares his insights into creating an effective homeworking operation.
Creating an effective homeworking operation is very rarely an easy or a quick task. And, at Sensée, we know first hand. We’ve been on our own homeworking journey for the last 16 years, and every day we are building our solutions… and still learning.
One of these key learnings is that to manage homeworking effectively you need a ‘virtual mindset’ and one that applies to everything your organisation does: from how it recruits and onboards people, to how it trains, communicates with, monitors, manages and schedules them. And it’s a mindset that must also apply to how you use technology to support remote teams in a live ‘real time’ environment, as well as manage infosec and compliance.
To manage homeworking effectively, you need a ‘virtual mindset’ that applies to everything your organisation does: from how it recruits and onboards people, to how it trains, communicates with, monitors, manages and schedules them.
Thinking virtually, however, is not something that always comes naturally to managers more familiar with bricks and mortar operations – and can present challenges at every stage of the homeworking journey. This is perfectly illustrated in an online poll conducted via three online webinars on the 2nd of April (shortly after lock-down was imposed), 30th April, and 6th May 2020. 156 contact centre professionals took part in the poll, 86% of which had introduced homeworking in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
When asked ‘What is your Biggest Homeworking Challenge?’, connectivity (telephony/technology services) was the most popular response – given by 26% of contact centres – alongside Pastoral Care (isolation/mental health concerns). By the 6th May, however, the responses stating these as their biggest challenge had fallen to 17% and 19% respectively. Conversely, those stating Staff Management as their biggest challenge had grown from zero to 17% of respondents, and Motivation/Productivity from 17% to 32%, over the same period.
Should we be surprised that Staff Management is a growing concern, and that almost a third of respondents see Motivation/Productivity as their biggest challenge? Absolutely not!
A recurring theme of conversations we are having right now is how to lead, motivate and understand the challenges of front line advisors. With customer contact teams now geographically spread, leading teams is a very different proposition. For example, how do you:
- Ensure your team thinks and acts like a team (when people are sometimes living hundreds of miles apart?
- Support team members with stressful situations?
- Support team members struggling with complex customer questions?
- Bring a sense of fun and togetherness to the working day?
- Make virtual training sessions more fun and engaging?
- Maintain effective communications with team members?
- Show trust to people working remotely?
- Support people through the (sometimes difficult) first few months of their homeworking journeys?
- Enhance job satisfaction?
- Run activities designed to help stem potential isolation?
We recently asked our Managers for their thoughts on these topics, and detailed them in a series of blog pieces Sensée Management Tips from the Frontline. We’ve also produced an eBook that can be viewed (no need to register) 20 Homeworking Management Tips eBook. We hope these tips help.
The prize for getting homeworking right is huge. According to the 2020 HomeAgent survey, when comparing WFH with office-based contact centre operations, 75% of organisations said that Attrition is lower, 61% say Productivity is better, and 54% say Absenteeism is better.
From the contact centre advisor (or HomeAgent) perspective, the benefits can be equally spectacular. 74% of HomeAgents say that they have a better work-life-balance, 86% say they they have no travel-to-work costs, and 81% say that they have removed the time wasted travelling to work.
Furthermore, 71% say they are ‘happy’, with 88% saying that ‘I want to perform well for the sake of my team’ and 54% saying ‘I want to reach a higher position in my line of work/organisation’.
With 16 years’ experience, Sensée is a specialist in home and flexible working. Every day, their 1000+ HomeAgents deliver brilliant customer service for blue chips including BUPA and Allianz.