Having remote employees can be a big boon as it helps lower costs through less overhead, and agents working remotely tend to have higher job satisfaction than their traditional office-based colleagues.
A study from TINYpulse shows that remote workers rate themselves happier with a score of 8.10 on a scale of 1 to 10, compared to the overall average of 7.42. Moreover, remote workers tend to be more productive; a study on the contact center for Ctrip showed that employees who worked at home completed on average 13.5% more calls than the office staff, all other things equal.
There are a lot of great benefits to having remote workers, but they come with their own set of challenges. In particular: how can you ensure that your people are hitting their KPI metrics?
While modern cloud contact center software makes it easier to run a remote operation, there’s no substitute for good management and leadership skills. Here are our tips to keep your agents on point when working at home.
Keep up the Frequent, Engaging Communication
The single most important thing you have to keep in mind when dealing with remote agents is frequent communication. While nobody is expecting you to keep tabs on agents 24/7, agents need to feel like they are still part of the company, or they quickly lose engagement and lose morale. While the first step is to identify whether your hire is a good fit for remote or not, once there you need to keep the channels open to maximize your agent’s productivity.
In a traditional call center environment managers are expected to have a one on one with each agent at least once every week. But with a home-based agent, you don’t have the facetime to keep them engaged, so it’s important to go even further. The TINYpulse study shows that 52% of remote employees meet with their supervisors at least once per day.
Be sure to check in with your agents daily.
In addition, remote employees should be encouraged to phone-in on company-wide meetings, announcements and calls. An instant messaging system for the entire team is also a great way to keep the team connected, and have everyone available to answer quick inquiries.
Gamify their Goals and Objectives
The biggest challenge with remote employees is keeping their engagement up. A 2014 survey conducted by Technology Advice shows that only 29% of Americans are emotionally engaged with their work, yet a study from Anadea reports that 90% of employees are more productive using gamification.
Setting goals and expectations with employees is vital for any manager, but when dealing with remote workers it pays to have a little extra edge. Gamification works because it incentivizes better behavior, providing consistent, real-time feedback for a worker’s actions. It’s a great way to introduce fun and friendly competition in the team, and it allows them to see their performance and quickly receive rewards and recognition.
Your software solution may already have the capacity to work this in, but platforms like Slack are also available in the cloud.
Gamification doesn’t always need to be digitized, and you can use the same principles in a manager’s daily one-on-ones.
Just be sure your team’s goals and objectives meet the overall business requirements and design your KPIs and metrics accordingly.
Go with the Cloud and Familiarize Agents with the Reporting
Since you can’t be with your employees all the time, it’s important to teach them how to properly use the software reporting system to look up their performance. Your gamified system may have the performance metrics at a glance, but employees who can look up the reports in-depth will gain a better appreciation for their performance, and take ownership of it.
When dealing with remote agents, it’s always ideal to have a cloud-based system, as this ensures that agents will all be using the same systems and the same tools no matter where they’re located.
Most cloud contact center software has the tools for agents to easily look up their metrics. Training them in their use maximizes the benefits of the cloud platform. The level of consistency and convenience in using a cloud-based system will be the key to working effectively with a remote team.
Working with remote agents can be challenging, but it’s ultimately very rewarding if you take careful steps to ensure success. Remote agents can be more productive, have lower turnover rates and are generally happier and more motivated, so it pays to take the time to have a proper game plan when working with them.