One of a series of blogs about homeworking in our industry, this week we look at taking on new homeworkers and setting the ground rules.
During 2020 many contact centres have hurriedly implemented homeworking for their agents, team managers and other staff. You may be new to realising the benefits of homeworking in your contact centre and thinking of keeping it. Let’s have a look at setting the scene when taking on homeworking agents in particular.
Watch the video or read on ?
I really like home working, as a WFMer I worked at 3 centres who made great use of homeworking and the homeworking agents were consistently high achievers, reported low absenteeism and low attrition, high CSat and ESat scores, I can’t recommend it enough! In order to achieve these utopian heights though it’s so important to start the process with the right agents and right ways of working.
- So we need to start by picking the right people. You might start off with moving existing agents to a more permanent homeworking arrangement. This can be a great way of keeping good staff whose circumstances change that would normally prevent them carrying on, say if they move away from the location of the contact centre or their home caring circumstances change.
- Don’t insist the agent commits to homeworking permanently straight away, start with say a 3 month trial period then review every 6 months. Some agents might have liked the last few months as a different way of working but making it permanent can be a bit daunting, set a trial period up to check they are still happy and you are still happy about them working from home.
- You may be lucky and overwhelmed with volunteers! Make sure you use fair selection criteria, working from home should be seen as a different way of working not better or worse than in the office.
It won’t do your company’s reputation any harm, you’ll be seen as a green and flexible employer. It’s also great for contingency planning/disaster recovery, having lots of office locations you won’t be as affected by those pesky occasions of traffic jams, office IT issues and those of us in the UK know what effect a whole inch of snow has on the trains!
You gotta have rules
Create clear guidelines for agents to determine how working from home may be different to office work. Start with a check list of home office items to be provided by the business or the agent including laptop/pc, ‘proper’ office chair, headset, etc. Agree if homeworking includes working from another person’s home and where the business provides a laptop, can this be used for personal use.
Ensure agents working from home receive regular feedback and communication, this may be a bit more than an office based agent as they are missing out on the ‘water cooler’ conversations.
Home visits can be arranged where face to face meetings are to be continued. I have seen this work really well where you have a homeworking Team Manager, so for one manager to visit each of their team in a couple of days to provide all agents with coaching/one to one sessions is much more productive than asking all the agents to attend the office. Agree what notice period should be given to the agent for any ad hoc home visits and what reasons this would be needed, no one likes to get caught with their washing out!
If the agent is required to attend the office, agree how often this will be and what specific reason e.g. team meetings, upskill training. What notice period should be given if the agent is required to attend the office adhoc say if they have IT issues preventing them working from home.
I hope this gives you some ideas. There are more blogs on homeworking for the contact centre industry focussing on The Office at Home, Management and WFM Processes.
Good luck with your Homeworking ventures! ??