Perspectives on Flexilbility and Homeworking
Updated August 4 2021 - Homeworking has gone in and out of fashion over the last two decades with implications for both employing organizations and employees. A White Paper published (before Covid) in 2018 by Contact Centre specialists Puzzel, it is argued that flexible working practices are back on the map due to two major changes:
First, consumer behaviour has changed with customers expecting instant access to organisations. They want their questions answered at a time convenient for them.
Second, the modern workforce does not expects a five-days-per-week, 9am to 5pm schedule. Employees will consider alternative approaches such as contracting, freelancing and gig working.
Puzzel contend that these factors provide good reasons for contact centres to reconsider flexible, remote, homeworking. However, managing a remote workforce has its own challenges. Both frontline customer service staff and remote workers must have 'the information and technology they need to deliver an exceptional customer experience.' Also, contact centre managers need the best tools to support teams and maintain control.
According to Puzzel, 'technological advancements have transformed the potential for an effective flexible approach.' Modern cloud-connected and virtualised techniques have given us unlimited possibilities. So what has been learned from past experiences and what are the best ways to allow contact centre staff to work from home?
And then came Covid-19 which introduced even greater pressure to work from home.
Tips for adopting successful homeworking
Colin Hay VP Sales UK provided eight top tips for turning successful homeworking into reality:
- Hire the right people and train them properly
- Make the most of technology to create an inclusive mobile workforce
- Create a social aspect
- Add some fun with gamification
- Enable mobile management - it's not just agents who can work from home
- Implement real-time analytics
- Maximise workforce management
- Take advantage of quality monitoring and call recording
Puzzel argue that many benefits can come from offering remote work options, including:
- a larger applicant talent pool
- staffing efficiency
- higher employee satisfaction
- lower agent attrition and less absenteeism
Flexible Working and Career Development
Alexia Pedersen, EMEA Vice-President, OíReilly recently commented about the implications for young people:
"The idea that young people need to work in an office to get to know their colleagues or develop mentors is outdated. While many people will want to return to the office, itís important that employees are empowered to choose what works best for them. With the correct application, tools and training, all of this can and really should already be achieved while working from anywhere.
"Many businesses, whether because of productivity, cost or fear of losing employees will be keen to continue working from home in a permanent or flexible way. If this works for your business, it should be encouraged. However, itís crucial that management teams put the time, effort and creativity needed to generate a harmonious team environment without physically being in an office together.
"Ultimately, this comes down to multiple adjustments. Businesses must ensure all of their employees are trained to use home-working tools, such as Zoom and Teams, not just proficiently, but effectively. Additionally, employees should receive regular check-ups, updates and opportunities to speak with their team members. Crucially, if people are forced back into the office, geographical divides return to the equation and working parents could potentially feel the additional pressure commuting brings to get into the office on time after the school drop off . If done correctly, with the necessary effort and tools applied, home-working should be seen as the equal to office working."