If your contact center is like most, you probably have a robust set of guidelines that document your procedures, detail your standards, and outline how employees should handle various situations.
But one thing many contact centers are missing is a remote work company policy. In our 2022 remote work study, we found that nearly all the respondents were offering hybrid or remote work arrangements, but only 34% had a policy in place to govern it. Forty-two percent (42%) reported not having one at all, and 24% weren’t sure if they had one.
A remote work location requires a different mindset from contact center management — and a distinct set of guidelines. To make remote or hybrid work a success in your customer service center, setting a strong policy is a must.
What Is A Remote Work Policy?
A remote work policy is a set of general guidelines that outlines who can work remotely, when, and what the requirements for remote workers are.
What’s The Purpose Of A Remote Work Policy?
If you want a successful remote work program, everyone needs to be on the same page. Remote work agreements make clear for both agents and managers what the qualifications are for working outside the office and what’s expected of those who do.
Even if you do have one, now is a good time to revisit it and make sure it covers everything it should. Many companies hurriedly put together a policy when the pandemic started and haven’t updated it to reflect the realities of remote work arrangements today.
Related Article: 5 Ways Contact Center Managers Are Adapting to Remote Work
Why Should A Contact Center Offer Remote Work Opportunities?
If you’re not offering remote work arrangements or are planning to bring agents back to an office this year, it might be time to reconsider. Remote work is a benefit that’s highly important to customer service agents. In our study, they ranked it as the top motivational technique their employers could use.
Agents in our survey were resounding in their praise for remote work arrangements.
- 68% said they don’t want to return to an office at any point
- 57% said they would be extremely or very likely to leave their current job if their employer didn’t allow a flexible work arrangement
- 87% said their job satisfaction had increased as remote employees
Managers reported that they had done well at leading a remote workforce — 64% said their contact center has been extremely or very successful in supporting remote workers. Part of that support should include clear guidelines for how to come to a remote work agreement the right way in the form of a remote work policy.
Related Podcast: Service Agent Retention: How Contact Centers Can Retain Their Agents
How Can I Best Monitor Remote Employees?
Our study uncovered a big disconnect between contact center management and agents. Despite full-time employees’ enthusiasm for working remotely, nearly half (45%) of managers said some percentage of their agent workforce would go back to the office in 2022.
Why bring agents back when even managers are satisfied with it? (Eighty-four percent [84%] of them are satisfied with the number of hours they work as remote employees.) A sprawling 2022 survey of more than 20,000 knowledge workers by Microsoft offers some insights.
In that survey, 87% of employees across a variety of work environments reported being productive, while just 12% of leaders said they were confident their hybrid teams actually were.
When you create a remote work company policy, make sure it includes guidelines for employees on maintaining productivity and the other performance expectations that are most important in your organization. According to a 2021 survey by ICMI, the top 10 metrics for employee performance in service centers are:
- Customer Satisfaction
- Agent Productivity
- Average Handle Time
- Average Speed of Answer
- Quality Score
- Abandonment Rate
- Schedule Adherence
- Service Level
- Average Response Time
With a distributed workforce, you might be most interested in tracking Schedule Adherence, Average Response Time, and Average Handle Time to ensure that agents are adhering to their job duties and handling interactions as they would in the office.
But rather than monitoring these individually, opt for a performance management solution that lets you combine multiple KPIs into a performance campaign and track progress for individual agents or the entire team. A more holistic view will help you more quickly see which agents are staying on track and enforce your remote work policy with those who are falling behind.
Related Article: 4 Smart Reasons To Offer Remote Work In Your Contact Center
Coach And Motivate
Another fear many managers have is how to engage with remote workers and coach them to improve when they need it. When you can’t help agents improve in person, look for a coaching solution that sends them automated coaching recommendations based on their interactions. Ensuring coaching is done regularly and consistently across remote work employees can help take the pressure off you as a contact center leader and lead to better agent performance.
Eighty-five percent (85%) of workers in the Microsoft remote work study said that rebuilding team bonds was one motivation for in-person work. Social connections will continue to be an important part of work both in an office space and throughout remote locations , and technology can help keep those bonds alive when you’re leading a team of hybrid or remote employees.
Build connectedness with a solution that offers a communication space to help individual employees recognize their peers, exchange ideas, and ask questions regardless of work location. Likewise, letting agents compete (in a healthy way) can ignite excitement around new KPI initiatives, quality goals, or learning opportunities — especially if there are points, rewards, and badges involved.
How To Create A Remote Work Policy
A strong remote work policy will cover requirements and guidelines that create success for both your customer support center and your employees. Your policy shouldn’t just set rules for employees — it should also assure them that their needs will be met.
Start your own remote work policy by thinking about what an agent needs to work successfully in an office and how to recreate that as closely as possible elsewhere. Include guidelines around:
- Eligible employees
- Alternate work locations
- Compensation and conditions of employment
- Essential job responsibilities
- Availability and responsiveness
- Performance expectations
- Remote workspace
- Additional equipment
- Communication frequency and methods
- Any consent to record required by your national, state, or local laws
Set A Clear Policy For Remote Work Success
A remote work agreement only works if everyone knows — and plays by — the rules. In your contact center, setting clear policies with enough flexibility to be adaptable as things change is the key.
Get more detail on what to include in your remote work policy and a handy policy template in our ebook, Creating A Strong Remote Work Policy For Your Contact Center.