by Otto van Haaren | April 3, 2020
Many management consultants and business experts are advising executives to move their workforce home with laptops until the crisis is over. What they are not saying is that this is now business as usual – the new normal.
Even if the immediate crisis is conquered and the population no longer needs to practice self-isolation, we are not going to see a return to the way that businesses were run in the past. I know, because my company operates successfully with 95% of our team working from home and we have done this for over 15 years.
Look at what is taking place around the world. Governments are building the biggest stimulus packages ever known:
• The homeless are being housed in hotels.
• Banks are not collecting mortgage payments and many people are receiving immediate government payments to help them through the crisis.
• Are you listening to the economists who say there is going to be a ‘V-shaped’ recovery soon?
• Are they living in the same world as the rest of us?
Everything has changed. Your business needs to react, but things will be different as we emerge from this crisis. Here are a few of my thoughts on what to look out for:
• Companies in the cloud: my company is almost entirely virtual, we still have a head office with about 5% of the team based there, but many companies are 100% virtual – Github is a good example. Globally distributed companies with all, or almost all, employees based at home will become normal.
• Information Security: this has to become a concern for all employees. Security should not just be managed by a security director. Right now many companies are in a state of chaos and their security is weak – one security leader cannot manage thousands of home-based employees. Criminals will be targeting those weak companies right now. You need a culture of security that permeates the entire organization.
• Learning and Training: as companies onboard thousands of workers into their new work from home strategies they are realizing that they can’t train people fast enough in the classroom. A completely different approach is required where we help team members to develop a habit of lifelong learning.
• Restart relationships: the employer and employee relationship has to be completely readjusted. Your team is employed because they have the expertise that you need to deliver services to your clients. Don’t treat them like numbers or cells in a spreadsheet. Introduce empathy and understanding into the workplace. This isn’t just a nice thing that your HR team might recommend – if you ignore this because it sounds like a ‘soft’ goal then you will not manage to run a remote or distributed workforce. You can no longer watch over shoulders or call people into the office for a chat – people need to value their employer and likewise.
That’s just a few immediate thoughts, but I haven’t seen many other experts talking about this. They are all focused on an immediate need to start working from home until the crisis is over.
But this crisis is showing that contact center teams are more important than ever. There has been an explosion in the use of e-commerce services and this will only continue in the future. Right now the shopping malls are empty. Do you think we are going to flick a switch and return to how things used to be? Consumer behavior is changing and this sudden shock will force far more rapid changes in the coming months.
Even after the immediate crisis, we are not going back to the business practices of 2019. Start building the corporate culture you need to manage a distributed team right now.
5CA has been doing it for a long time, we know it works. Now everyone else is catching up. This is the new normal.
Photo by Hans Permana licensed under Creative Commons.
Otto van Haaren is Founder and CEO of 5CA.
Following on from National Customer Service Week, our Chief Customer Officer Rob van Herpen reflects on the journey that customer service has undergone in the last decade, and the role it plays within the wider scope of the whole customer experience.
I started working for 5CA back in October 2019. Currently, I’m working as a Gaming Technology Support Agent in Spain. My job as an expert on the products of the company I'm supporting is to offer support to customers and get them up, running and happy in no time.
2020 is set to be a blockbuster year for gaming. In particular, mobile games that don’t need the player to invest in a console or any other equipment. One of the effects of the stay-at-home and quarantine orders during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has been that people have needed to find things to keep them occupied.
The white paint lines on the road crept passed ever so slowly, like my life tricking away.
I tapped the steering wheel with my nails, trying to release the pent up stress and irritation while the radio mindlessly droned on. Then the tears came, right on time, same as usual.
When you look at how many people searched for ‘work from home’ in the past year, you see the chart soars in March 2020 just as many national governments were applying stay-at-home orders and quarantines to help reduce the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. This is no surprise. Every company that could possibly keep functioning with remote workers asked their people to go home.
It’s often said, ‘people are the weakest link in cybersecurity’. I get that and I agree that we must seek to minimize human-related threat vectors. But I believe that if we view our people, our teammates, as our greatest security asset, then we start from a position of strength.
Have you noticed how many companies and senior executives are now experts in building a work from home strategy? According to Malcolm Gladwell it takes 10.000 hours of individual practice to become an expert at anything. Have those 320 business hours since the 1st of March really made everybody an expert?
Across the world, business journals have been endlessly reporting of the heroic efforts of companies with large numbers of office-based employees managing to switch to a work-from-home strategy. This has particularly impacted the contact centers because they have a large number of people in a small area and this is no longer acceptable because of the social distancing required to keep us all safe.
For almost two decades, 5CA has been perfecting our work from home customer service model. The latest version, where we only ever hire agents to work from home, has been around since 2015, so it is clear that for us this is very much business as usual.
A few days ago I participated in a webinar titled ‘pioneering contact center quality working remotely.’ The title makes it clear what the focus was, but I was pleased to be joined by our Lead QA Analyst, Sylvia Mattl, and Derek Corcoran, CEO of Scorebuddy.
A few days ago I participated in a webinar titled ‘pioneering contact center quality working remotely.’ The title makes it clear what the focus was, but I was pleased to be joined by our Chief Customer Officer Rob van Herpen, and Derek Corcoran, CEO of Scorebuddy.
My experience with starting to work remotely has certainly been one of the very best opportunities I’ve had so far. It changed my life, for the better. I’ll gladly tell you the short story of how I went from an in-office agent biking to the station every day, to exchanging my bike for snow boots when I reached my new home.
Companies across the world are racing to get their team all working from home to protect them. During multiple global lockdowns citizens are expected to practice social distancing, therefore it is essential for companies to operate with as many people as possible working from home.
95% of our team works from home and we have been working this way for over 15 years, where we truly understand what it is really like to build a work from home strategy with a huge focus on quality.
I've been working from home for a full year now, and no working experience can compare...
At 5CA working from home is just business as usual. 95% of our team is based at home so we have been watching the sudden focus on work from home business models, especially for customer service, with some interest.
It sounds kind of obvious, but training and developing your remote workforce is essential to improving their skills and performance. It encourages them to be more engaging within the workforce of your company while working from their home office, which leads to happy, effective and great employees that are here to stay...
I saw the situation, and I went for it. 2014 was going to be a decisive year. It was to be the year I got laid off from my well paid corporate job and the year I decided to study Permaculture and reunite with nature again!
Because 95% of our team works from home and we have been working this way for over 15 years I feel confident that I can help people to understand what it is really like to build a work from home strategy.
A lot of people are currently being thrust into the murky waters of communicating purely via different apps. It’s dangerous. I’m Australian, and to me the perfect analogy would be diving head-first into a muddy river on a scorcher of a day.
Many management consultants and business experts are advising executives to move their workforce home with laptops until the crisis is over. What they are not saying is that this is now business as usual - the new normal.
Companies across the world are facing an unprecedented wave of disruption at present. One of the specific outcomes from this is that many people are suddenly working from home. Many have no experience working away from the office and so the business journals are full of tips on how to make it work.
Companies across the world are finding their business extremely disrupted at present and it looks like things may get worse before they get better. During this time there has been a strong focus on the need for people to work from home...
“I’m on break, it’s my turn to hold him!” This is just one statement many fathers don’t get to say to their significant other as they usually do not have home based job...
I have to say, the first time leading a team without ever being in the same room is quite a unique and unsettling experience in the first few weeks...
I have to say, the first time leading a team without ever being in the same room is quite a unique and unsettling experience in the first few weeks, but I have found that it makes you work a lot on your communication skills...
Workforce engagement is a buzzword. And like all good buzzwords, there’s a lot of hype around it, but something really valuable at the heart of it too.
Consumer support over any channel, in any language, at any time: 5CA’s successful contact center as a service is possible because we use technology to make planet Earth our talent pool...
Consumer support over any channel, in any language, at any time: 5CA’s successful contact center as a service is possible because we use technology to make planet Earth our talent pool. It also presents an intriguing challenge: How do we balance flexibility, productivity, and security?
Consumer support over any channel, in any language, at any time: 5CA’s successful contact center as a service is possible because we use technology to make planet Earth our talent pool.