In my position as Work From Home Program Manager and as a remote worker myself I’ve seen the benefits for both company (access to a bigger talent pool, reduced operational costs, lower carbon footprint, etc.) and individual (greater work-life balance, no commute, flexibility, etc.) firsthand. However, it is the challenges involved with being a remote worker that keep me pushing for continuous improvement. Staying connected to your coworkers, exercising regularly, investing in your social life and just getting out of the house from time to time become real challenges once you commit to working from home. How can we ensure that remote team members feel part of something bigger while they are working in isolation for 8 hours a day? How do we inspire them to peak performance, especially in the repetitive environment of a contact center?
According to Buffer’s comprehensive State of Remote Work 2019 report, the biggest challenge for remote workers is unplugging after work (22%), followed closely by Loneliness (19%) and Collaborating and/or Communication (17%). It is therefore crucial that remote companies create a suitable support network to address some of the challenges that remote work imposes on our teams. Especially for hybrid organizations like 5CA that consist of in-office staff as well as their at-home counterparts, it is critical to be highly deliberate and conceptualize new initiatives with ALL of your team members in mind.
As companies, how can we achieve this? Below is a non-exhaustive list of some of the ideas we are implementing at 5CA. It can serve as a starting point for (partially) remote organizations:
- Culture: determine what your company’s culture, mission and vision are. Live and breathe your values and ensure they are evident from every decision you make. Creating a culture that people can aspire to and feel a part of will attract the best talent and fit and more importantly, they will stick around. Once you figure out your company culture, announce it with great fanfare, and make sure to create an atmosphere of inclusion, mentorship and empowerment. If you can achieve this, you will see a clear uptick in employee engagement and loyalty.
- Tools, Systems & Processes: implement a set of tools, systems & processes that works for your organization and that promotes transparency, community building and knowledge-sharing. This will allow you to break down barriers and facilitate cross-departmental engagement & efficient asynchronous work. 5CA has recently finetuned its communication strategy and ecosystem of tools and is already seeing how having a clear and understandable vision has a positive impact on engagement and sense of belonging. You can find more information about our toolset in this article.
- Training & Development: Design a thorough onboarding process and ensure that training is part of an ongoing strategy to develop and grow your remote staff. There are plenty of good LMS platforms out there, look for the one that best fits your needs and budget. In my experience, the first day at a new company is critical in defining the employee’s perception of their new environment, so at 5CA we make sure that this experience is well-organized, energetic and fun.
- Rewards & Recognition: Cherish your champions by offering a comprehensive Performance & development program. Institute a culture of frequent and early praise from the top of your organizational pyramid all the way down to the bottom. This is even more important for remote or hybrid organizations to ensure the efforts of those working who are out of sight are recognized and celebrated.
- Transparency & Communication: Over-communicate and provide insights into your mid- and long-term strategy and the roadmap to your goals. At 5CA, we publish a weekly, company-wide newsletter and hold regular live streams to share successes, best practices or just to introduce a specific team or team member. The feedback we have received about this from our community is overwhelmingly positive and really makes our people feel like they are part of a family.
- Face Time: Yearly company-wide get-togethers are ideal but not feasible for all companies. If your business model or size does not allow for this, organize smaller, regional meetups and incentivize virtual get-togethers. At 5CA, we encourage our teams to get together and engage as much as possible, be it by organizing a traveling workshop or just hanging out with a drink on Friday afternoon and chatting about the plans for the weekend. In addition, it’s key to ensure all of your team members have quality webcams and noise-canceling headsets and that they use them for each and every call.
Every day, more talented individuals looking for flexibility are finding their way to the remote workplace. Being able to work remotely is indeed becoming a hard requirement for a lot of young professionals. As companies, we need to be prepared to offer them a competitive set of benefits and a work environment in which they can flourish, or someone else will.