eLearning and Collaboration Help Remote Workers Exceed Expectations
December 17, 2014 • By Matt Miles
Remote workers. Working from home. Telecommuting. Flexible schedules. We’ve all heard about remote work—and most of us would like to try it! But the mere mention of it gives most employers a chill running down their spine. For some employers, it is their greatest fear—losing control. If you can’t keep an eye on your employees when they’re in the office, who knows what they might doing on “company time?”
Like most fears, the concern about remote workers is largely unfounded. In reality there are numerous business benefits in allowing workers to work remotely. The more you learn about and prepare for remote work, the easier (and less scary) it is. Remote workers are skilled, talented people, in locations across the country, working from home. With today’s smart phones, laptops, tablets, cloud computing, video chatting and instant messaging, it’s easier than ever to work outside of the office and keep workers connected and productive. With the right people and the right tools, remote work really should be a win-win for everyone.
It’s clear that some businesses and industries are more appropriate for remote work than others. Contact centers—and the brands they serve—can experience great benefits from remote workers. Whether taking in-bound calls ordering the latest must-have product, making outbound survey calls or monitoring and engaging on social media to maintain a brand’s stellar reputation, contact centers are busy places.
It takes the right person with the right mindset to succeed in that environment. LiveOps has a community of 20,000 independent, work-at-home agents who excel at providing excellent service to customers for a variety of brands. Central to this, our newly introduced LiveOps University 2.0 is a social learning ecosystem that supports the unique needs of work-at-home agents. Part learning resource and part learning community, LiveOps University 2.0 helps remote workers feel like part of the team, every day.
A big part of helping remote workers be efficient and effective is implementing the right technologies—such as “the cloud.” There are a multitude of business and productivity tools available and accessible with simply a computer, Internet connection and phone. Contact center technologies offered in the cloud are easy to use, offering all of the functionality users need to be productive. In a contact center environment, cloud-based technologies and reporting ensures that supervisors have real-time visibility into agent availability, skills, calls in progress, web chats and other text-based interactions as they are happening. When supervisors can access productivity metrics so they can assist, respond and manage their remote agents more effectively, both customer and agent satisfaction rises. And the cloud offers greater scalability. When a brand needs 25 agents one week and 100 the next, a contact center based in the cloud can adapt and meet those needs.
There are, of course, some challenges to be addressed when including remote workers in the employee mix. With people working from different locations, how can they establish and maintain relationships? Employees can’t gather in the break room to discuss the developments on last night’s episode of that hot new show while on their break or eating lunch. How can companies ensure their remote workers are engaged and happy?
There are many ways…from embracing chat capabilities (on your cloud platform) to encouraging video calls for a face-to-face presence. There are also benefits from establishing an online community, a location full of job specific information paired with ways to interact, such as discussion forums and a blog. Remote workers can give and receive peer coaching, find information to answer their questions, and feel like an important part of the group. Remote workers need to be empowered with real-time coaching, conferencing, and other productivity tools to stay effective.
Training goes hand-in-hand with the online community. People often learn better from peers and real experiences, so peer coaching and simulations are essential. Provide instruction on a concept or process and then let the remote user practice in a simulation before “going live” with a real customer. It will reduce anxiety, increase confidence, and improve speed-to-performance.
LiveOps University 2.0 offers skill-building exercises and simulations and a social community with blogs, forums, and agent-to-agent chat. Peer support and a variety of opportunities for engagement mean that agents are “together,” even when working in distant locations.
Overall, the ROI benefits of remote, cloud-based workers are huge. LiveOps remote agents participating in a social learning community have show a reduced time in certification of over 50% when compared to traditional classroom training. Allowing agents to be on the phones quicker, building their business, and providing services to clients. This also means employers are not paying employees to sit in long classroom training sessions when they could be on the job benefiting the business. Performance in a remote workforce is also improved greatly. LiveOps agents are able to obtain knowledge transfer quicker through “always-available” elearning that has shown to increase performance by up to 10% on key metrics.
Greater flexibility benefits both the employer and the employee. Access to a wider candidate pool and the ability to scale up or down the number workers being utilized at any time are important elements to any business. Cloud-based systems just make it easier and more cost-effective for businesses to use contact centers and provide their customers with first-rate service.
Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.