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.
This is certainly not a problem at 5CA. 95% of our team works from home and we have over two decades of experience making this strategy work effectively. However, I think that there are going to be some more specific behavioral changes in companies once this crisis is over:
- Work from home is expected and normal: many people have been forced to work from home by employers who were previously reluctant to allow this. They will have found that it works well. We know this already because it is business as usual at 5CA, but all those people finding that they can easily spend a few days a month working from home will not want to give up this flexibility when the crisis is over.
- Fewer meetings: we all know how meetings can fill the working day and then you look back on your day and wonder what was achieved. In the present chaos, only the most important meetings are being scheduled and people are managing to keep their business running. I think the bar will be raised and people will see that many of those ‘weekly status reports’ are just not important – the updates can be managed in a different way.
- Less business travel: some airlines are not going to survive this crisis. Many are 100% grounded at present and seeking government bailouts, but when people are traveling again I think that business travel behavior will have changed because people have been forced to use tools such as video-calls and they will have found that it works well. Some business always requires a personal meeting, but just imagine if business travel drops by 50%? Great for the environment!
Earlier this year, Forbes magazine listed 5CA in the top 20 companies offering work from home jobs. Being recognized is nice, but it really is just business as usual. However, as I read more about companies dealing with this crisis I can see that this is an area where many companies and managers really struggle.
Working from home requires a significant cultural change if your company has been entirely office-based. It’s not just about buying some video-conferencing tools and giving your team laptops, you need to think differently about how the team works together. How do you recognize success and reward people in a virtual environment?
I call 5CA a ‘community company.’ We foster a culture where every individual counts and social cohesiveness is an important asset that we work hard to achieve. I have seen many companies within the CX industry talking about their team members as ‘Full-Time Equivalents’ – all this jargon sounds like people are reduced to little more than a money-making machine. How much can we charge our clients for this agent?
Once you cannot see your team members, because they are working from home, you need to know that they are doing the right thing because they are part of a team that is all pulling in the same direction. They need to be engaged. This is why culture and community-building are so important. Your company only succeeds when this happens.
Many business behaviors will change after this crisis is over. If you want to continue allowing team members to work from home then you need to start thinking now about your experience, engagement, and culture of community across the entire business. Fast home wi-fi isn’t enough.