One of a series of blogs about homeworking in our industry, this week we look at nurturing and developing your homeworking agents.
What does the home worker need from you?
Find out more by watching the video, or you can grab a coffee and read on ☕
Managing homeworkers can be slightly different to office based agents. It’s a remote relationship and homeworkers will have different needs. Let’s assume the basics are in place and talk about what extra/different things you can do as a manager of homeworkers.
- News – agents may feel isolated and away from the hubbub of the centre, take extra care to keep them up to date with all business news and don’t take it for granted they will ‘hear it through the grapevine’ as you do in the office.
- Help! – bear in mind its more difficult for an agent to ask for help, especially relevant for relatively new agents. It’s easy in the office to just turn to your neighbour and ask, “can I just check this with you” as you point to the screen. At home, you have to find someone who’s free, email/message them, may need to introduce yourself etc. Consider this when monitoring After Call Work/Wrap Up both real-time and KPIs.
- One to ones – consider carrying these out during home visits, I’ve seen this work really well where the manager was also a home worker, it was much less disruptive for the manager to travel to each agent’s home for 2 days a month than expect all the agents to travel in one by one.
- Team meetings – as you would for office agents set these up regularly, they can be remote using video calls so can be a combination of office-based and home working agents.
- Non-work meetings – set up a weekly lunch video call for your agents, when working from home we really do miss the office banter so have this as a call for a non-work-related chat but keep it positive and not a big moaning session! How about taking it in turns to do a quiz, share a recipe, do tv show reviews etc.
- Communication – have a very specific channel for agents to get hold of you, their colleagues, IT, HR, WFM etc. This might be a call, chat, email a hunt group etc, it’s not so easy to pop over to the ‘dark side’ as you may do in the office.
- IT support – one exception would be homeworkers reporting IT issues, these should be prioritised over office-based agents as it is harder to reallocate work whilst they are waiting for their issue to be fixed. Ensure someone from IT is scheduled to be available specifically for the days when groups of new starters go live.
Again let’s assume they will receive the same training in terms of the topics but let’s look at what extra training they may need and how it could be delivered.
Implementation training – in some centres this will be done in the office which can be great for new homeworkers to get to know their team in those first few weeks and they can be introduced to support areas e.g. the WFM team, HR, IT etc. This might not always be possible where agents are recruited straight to homeworking where they are unable to travel to the office.
Upskilling – same goes for ongoing training, where possible doing this in the office can be combined with team meetings and create some team building elements whilst the agents have the opportunity to ‘see’ each other for real!
More IT skills – it’s good to equip your home workers with a few more IT skills than most so they can become a little more self-sufficient when working from home.
Online learning – this can be great for when ‘training’ is simply a transfer of facts, you can schedule the training for anytime to suit business needs/agents needs and include a quiz to check to understand. Be aware this type of learning is not appropriate for all topics e.g. where discussion and subjectivity are relevant to the topic.
I hope this gives you some pointers. There are more blogs on homeworking for the contact centre industry focussing on The Office at Home, Recruitment and WFM Processes.
Good luck with your home working ventures! ???