Efficiency in the age of COVID-19: how businesses can ensure employees are equally effective at home or in the office

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The coronavirus pandemic has impacted each and every one of us. From the way we work to the way we shop, play and converse with others, 2020 proved to be a rollercoaster of lifestyle adjustments.

These changes were especially profound within the workforce when millions of employees were shifted to a home office. This was an abrupt transition for employers and employees alike, with little time to prepare. While remote working had gained some traction in recent years, particularly as organizations realized that it could improve productivity, the vast majority of people still worked at a traditional place of business before the pandemic set in.

Communication has been critical to success in or out of the office and is necessary for businesses to maintain their relationships with their customers. While there is more than one way to contact a business – such as email, social media or live chat – a report by Accenture shows that most (57%) prefer to call customer service. Respondents noted that they appreciate the flexibility that calling offers because they can ask questions, explain a problem or negotiate a situation.

In other words, voice communication is truly paramount. Enterprises must be able to properly and efficiently connect with their customers no matter where they – or their employees – are located.

Encourage efficiency and productivity in the new world of work

Like most office-based jobs, contact centers shifted to the home office to keep workers safe during the pandemic. Remote working may not come to an end when the pandemic has subsided, however. Several corporations have announced their plans to let employees work from home forever. Others have adapted a more hybrid model. Coinbase, for example, introduced a “remote-first” strategy that focuses on the home but allows most employees to choose where they work.

Given this, it is important that businesses establish working structures and expectations as much as possible, particularly the element of working together as a team. Whether at home or in the office, companies should strive to re-establish a company rhythm and routine, ensuring that things like internal meetings continue to take place. Doing so will provide employees with a sense of normalcy. This may be even more crucial when acquiring talent remotely – hiring and onboarding programs must be adjusted accordingly.

Ensure complete transparency across teams

Whether transitioning 50, 500 or 5,000 employees – or more depending on the size of the organization – the move to remote work has not been easy. Businesses should be proud of their resilience during such an unfamiliar and confusing time. Transparency between managers and employees has no doubt played a key role in ensuring that expectations meet reality, decreasing the risk of avoidable issues.

In addition to transparency, organizations need visibility into how their employees are operating. This is especially important for contact centers, which use CRM systems and rely on data – such as call notes, recordings and customer information – to achieve satisfactory results.

Use familiar technology to coordinate work

Digital wallboards, which allow employees to view the status of their colleagues in real time, have proven to be invaluable while working from home. The board highlights who is working, who is taking a break and who is on vacation, allowing contact centers to plan ahead with ease. Wallboards can also show which agents are available to assist customers that are waiting in the queue.

By offering sleek and easily accessible digital channels – including live chat tools, embedded video options and more – agents can control the customer experience by gathering the information needed to solve their problems. Contact center agents could also benefit from having modern voice solutions that allow them to use any device with a company number while working within the business network. This would prevent both employees and employers from having to transfer or purchase new equipment, which would have added an unnecessary expense at a time when businesses are expected to do more with less.

Embrace the future of work

If businesses have learned anything from remote working, it’s that it actually works. With the right tools and technologies, employees can remain productive. And with a strategy to unify employees and maintain team camaraderie, the at-home experience can better emulate that of being in the office – a win-win for everyone.

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