Working from home has many benefits. You have a flexible schedule, zero commuting, and more time with loved ones. But it also has its drawbacks, especially for your frontline agents. Most remote employees face challenges. Agents may face these doubly since they often deal with customer problems, too.
If you're a supervisor or manager, here are four tips to keep your team happy and motivated when they’re working from home:
1. Encourage collaboration with customers.
Your reps are communicating with customers more than their colleagues. Your remote staff may be interacting with coworkers even less. Though it can be hard to deal with customer issues, a great technique is to encourage your employees to collaborate with customers.
Instead of feeling “alone” or isolated from colleagues, empower your team to seek guidance from your customers. Encourage your frontline associates to understand customers’ goals and motivations in order to work toward a common goal. Agents should feel confident to ask questions, show empathy, and build a friendly rapport with customers.
When agents collaborate with customers in this way, it will grow employee satisfaction, as well. Working toward a common goal and treating customers like peers will create trust. It will also lower agent frustration and de-escalate customer issues.
2. Create a virtual community for your employees.
Having friends and experiencing a sense of belonging are what keep your employees engaged at work. This can be as simple as being able to vent with a colleague or having a casual team huddle.
However, these types of interactions may become harder when your frontline staff is working from home. Large virtual meetings are noisy, difficult to schedule and even harder to follow. Meanwhile, agents’ schedules may not permit overlapping breaks for impromptu conversation.
As a team lead, you may have to foster this sense of belonging by building virtual communities that encourage casual, daily interactions. When you’re building these digital spaces, you can promote competition, common interests and your company culture to ensure engagement.
If you use a business messaging app, like Slack, one idea is to create more informal channels. These channels can be accessed whenever an employee has spare time. Here are a few ideas for channels that can create a sense of belonging:
- #CustomerWins: Create a channel to allow your agents to gloat about recent customer success. This will allow your team to provide digital high-fives while also encouraging competition and knowledge sharing. You can also create a daily or weekly leaderboard for the employee(s) with the highest CSAT scores.
- From #Social-Awwww to #Social-Memes: To engage your employees’ off duty interests, you can create social channels devoted to them. These channels can be focused on cat videos, children, hobbies, memes or whatever your employees like as a team. For these fun channels, adding the “social” prefix will keep them organized together, so they don’t clutter up your workspace.
- #ThankYou: Gratitude is so fundamental to customer service. Your frontline staff may be used to giving thanks all day instead of receiving them. That’s why you may want to create a space for peer-to-peer thank-yous. In this channel, agents can call out and tag peers who’ve helped them. As a supervisor, you can also use this channel to give a shout-out to an employee for good work. This strengthens collaboration, inclusivity and comradery.
3. Create growth opportunities.
No one wants to work the same job long-term without growing. Stagnation can create a lack of employee engagement and will eventually lead employees to seek opportunities elsewhere. To counteract this for your remote staff, you may need to be more engaged as a supervisor.
First, you’ll need to understand what your employees’ professional goals are. To do this, schedule one-on-one virtual meetings. For each employee, use a cloud-based shared document to write down what your employee wants to accomplish for the month, quarter or year. Reflect on creating alignment with your company’s goals, as well.
Once you have an idea of what each employee wants to achieve, you must set a plan into motion. Create peer-to-peer coaching pairs where an experienced employee can mentor a less experienced teammate. If staff time is limited, consider providing ongoing training through self-paced e-learning courses like those of The Call Center School.
After you have created growth opportunities for each employee, check in to see how everyone is progressing. You can do this in many ways. You can ask them or their pairing partner through an instant message, email or video meeting. You can look up their e-learning progress. You can also send out a monthly Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) survey to understand their job satisfaction generally.
4. Provide mental health breaks.
Working from home can create work-life imbalance. According to NordVPN, a virtual private network company: “In the U.S., homebound employees are logging three hours more per day on the job.” When the line between work and home life is blurry, it may be harder for your staff to disconnect. This may create unnecessary stress and burnout.
To help your frontline team, you can promote mental health breaks. Encourage your employees to disconnect during their lunches and breaks. Let them block the time on their calendar or put on any “away” messages. Tell them to walk away from their devices. Encourage them to take their vacations and to communicate if they need a breather.
There are a number of resources available to assist you if you want to focus on positive mental health. You can start by having conversations with your HR Department about resources already available. As a company, you may consider reaching out to organizations, like The Center for Workplace Mental Health, to help guide new initiatives.
As in a brick-and-mortar, leading a work-from-home team will have its challenges and rewards. By making employee engagement, happiness and collaboration among your top priorities, you can create a strong, motivated team. When your team is happy and healthy, their attitude will reflect this and lead to better customer experiences, too.
Do you need extra support? Enroll in the Managing Remote Contact Center Teams certification course by The Call Center School. In this one-hour class, you’ll learn how to get your team up and running in a remote setup. Start learning today.