How to Hire and Manage Productive Remote Contact Center Employees
When it comes to the modern workplace, more and more companies are opting to do away with the traditional office and moving online, leveraging high-speed internet and powerful applications to connect employees and get work done. The benefits are there, and it’s especially helpful when trying to setup a new business startup without investing a lot into an office infrastructure.
How can you leverage the benefits of a remote office with the all-important duties of a contact center while avoiding the pitfalls?
In a Stanford University study, researchers found that allowing employees to work remotely could save as much as $2,000 per head, just by keeping them out of the office and letting them do their thing in the comfort of their own homes or co-working spaces of choice.
But before you dive head into the hiring process, you need to take a look at your hiring methods.
The first thing to remember when hiring remote employees is that you can’t treat it the same way as hiring regular employees. It may look the same on the surface, but there are some very important distinctions. Making sure you hire the right people will make your contact center workforce management much simpler. Sara Sutton Fell, the CEO of FlexJobs, identified four traits that are crucial to the successful remote employee.
High Degree of Independence
It goes without saying that you won’t have your eye on a remote worker all the time. The employee needs to be a self-starter who gets work done with minimal supervision. If the new hire needs hand-holding and specific instructions each step of the way, they probably won’t work well in your company.
For remote contact center employees who need to be on call throughout their shift without you always there to support them, it’s vital they can operate with as little input from you as possible.
Receptive to Feedback
Going hand in hand with independence, the employee needs to be able to take feedback positively and apply it to their performance. With little face time with their managers, a remote employee must be quick on the uptake and value continuous learning.
Strong Written Communication Skills
The majority of your time working remotely will be spent looking at your computer screen, and most of your contact with your co-workers comes through there as well. It’s absolutely vital that you hire someone who is able to articulate and express themselves through the written word.
Varied Interests Outside of Work
Without the trappings of an office and all the people to hang out with and otherwise provide coffee break and water cooler talk, it’s very easy for an employee to get stuck in their work and get burned out. It’s essential that they have interests outside of work to help them switch over to relaxation mode and re-energize.
Once you have your remote workforce assembled, you can finally begin the task of managing them. Managing employees is a very fine art, and one that is made even more challenging in the virtual office. You can’t just rely on someone’s physical presence to tell if they’re doing a good job. Leaders who are good at inspiring people in person will need to translate that skillset to online application.
However, by and large, it’s important to note that managers still need to use the same interpersonal skills they would in a regular office setting.
According to research from the INSEAD Business School, the biggest misconception in managing remote teams is thinking that they require a completely different skillset. Instead of overcompensating in your approach, you should still think of remote teams in the same fundamental way you would a traditional office team.
Setting expectations is the bread and butter of all managers, but it’s doubly important in remote management. You need to set clear ground rules for how people will interact, the accountabilities of each individual, and set clear monthly, quarterly and yearly performance goals. In some cases, you may need to set daily goals, depending on the type of work done, and in a contact center setting this is more than likely to be necessary.
Check Progress and Milestones