Employing homeworkers certainly has its advantages. The most obvious being the ability to cut overheads and ironically reduce the number of call centre sick days.
This is especially pertinent, at a time when according to Xerox, contact centres are viewed as being too resource-intensive, cost-intensive and expensive to scale.
For agents, homeworking offers numerous advantages: avoiding the morning and evening commute, flexibility of hours, lower child care costs and a better work/life balance.
But then there are downsides: reduced contact with their team leader and the rest of the team, feelings of isolation, deterioration in skills and work quality, confused goals and a lack of recognition.
Good or bad, societal shifts indicate that future generations, (with Millennials leading the way), will have a huge effect on the way businesses operate. It is predicted that technology will begin to eliminate the traditional 9-to-5 schedule and allow people to work when and where it works best for them.
The inevitable rise of homeworking?
Love it or hate it, the desire for more flexible working and a less office-centric approach will see a rise in homeworking. But a recent article, has cautioned that this could result in a horrible cottage industry of people working in their living room, bothering other people in their living rooms, while some supervisor sends some abusive text messages telling them to work harder, from their living room.
This kind of dystopian scenario will ultimately lead to a drop in working standards, a feeling of disconnect, reduced loyalty to the company or brand, and with the customer paying the price.
Which begs the question: How do you engender in homeworkers a sense of belonging to a corporate identity and loyalty to the brand?
Keeping homeworkers motivated and engaged
There are some simple measures and checks a team leader can put in place, to keep homeworkers motivated and improve call centre agent performance.
To start with, strong, clear communication is a key element to successfully leading homeworkers, whether as a team or as individuals. Although the team may not all work in the same location, it is vital that lines of communication are agreed and adhered to (not just with their team leaders, but also with their peers).
How will decisions be reached? How will conflict be resolved? These and many other issues must be considered before they arise. But the key is consistency across all facets of operational management, from metrics to support communication.
EvaluAgent levels the playing field
To start with, Gamification is proven to marshal the required behaviours, no matter where agents are located. Through the introduction of user-friendly dashboards, game mechanics, social interaction and material rewards, it provides agents with countless opportunities to display their resourcefulness and initiative. Crucially Gamification also allows all agents to be acknowledged, both through material rewards and the acclaim of their peers.
Coaching can also be successfully implemented at distance. It is no longer necessary to conduct coaching face-to-face, as conversations can also be held over the phone or by web conference. The important factor is that these conversations are happening and that they are engaging; asking for the team members input, rather than telling them.
Simply by gaining their input and encouraging them to feel that they, along with the work they do, are integral to the company’s overall success, homeworkers will stay engaged and motivated, even if they never step foot in the building. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking coaching can only be done in person.
Our Quality Monitoring & Coaching solution is proof that you can keep a close eye on the progress of agents while also providing effective and timely coaching, even if you are hundreds of miles away.
It’s vital to ensure you treat homeworkers in exactly the same way you would treat the rest of your team. Receiving the same standard of performance updates will help them to stay on track, while recognising outstanding performance is vital to boosting morale and motivation. Having said that, it’s equally important that they understand they will still be accountable for their own performance.
The truth is that challenges presented by homeworkers aren’t that dissimilar to those of a fully-staffed contact centre.
This is the beauty of EvaluAgent. It delivers a contact centre quality monitoring software solution, that is just as at home in the front room as it is in the office.