Take a look at this Google data on how many people searched for ‘work from home’ in the past year. 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. Thousands of customer service agents used to working in a contact center were suddenly sitting in their kitchen at home speaking to customers.
For 5CA it has been a deliberate decision becoming a WFH company for all its benefits. Over the past twenty years, we have had the opportunity to test the waters. The result is a work-from-home strategy that works for our clients. Building experiences that other companies can benefit from.
One thing you rarely read about is how the culture of a work from home environment is more important than in a company where the employees must all visit the office, or contact center, on a daily basis. A culture will grow organically and can be pushed in the right direction by positively influencing it. Inter-person communication is much more important in a WFH culture. Pushing this in the right direction will create a transparent and productive culture.
There are a number of reasons for this:
- Flexibility: in the right culture a remote team member is judged much more on what they deliver, not how many hours they spend at their desk so there are never reprimands for being 5 minutes late in the morning.
- Get more done: with fewer distractions from office-based colleagues, home-based workers are generally more productive. Look at this Stanford research focused on customer service agents – a 13% performance increase just by asking them to work from home.
- Best talent: team members know that they are hired because they are the best, not just because they live within commuting distance of a contact center.
- Commute: once people experience working without a regular commute to the office they rarely want to return to the hours spent in traffic or on crowded trains. Saving them stress.
- Work-life balance: people increasingly want flexibility from their employer and the removal of a commute and flexibility over hours creates the opportunity to balance family and work-life more effectively. Culture should be aimed to promote a healthy work-life balance.
- More involved team members: remote workers are much more likely to share personal information about their hobbies and family with colleagues, compared to those working inside an office. Many office workers spend their life avoiding any personal discussions, but for remote workers, it creates bonds and connections during social events.
People need to be motivated and want to perform their job in the best location possible – this flexibility offered by working from home can dramatically increase motivation and that directly improves the customer experience too.
If there really is a ‘new normal’ it is that companies offering the ability to work remotely have a more positive and trusting corporate culture – I hope that more companies embrace this opportunity as we emerge from this period where many have experimented with working from home.