From leaving facilities to teleworking (almost) 1 year later



About a year ago we discussed to exhaustion what needed to be done to put people working from home, how the distribution of calls/activities would be done, the access to the applications, the solution to provide the computer means, the quality control and, already at a second level of analysis, information security issues and little else.  What we did at that time with extraordinary success to respond to the situation that was being experienced was not teleworking but just leaving work facilities! 

The proof of this success was published recently in a Capgemini study. It concluded that the customer service areas were the second that most increased their productivity with teleworking, only being surpassed by information technologies and digital services.

It is now urgent to solve the part of “leaving work facilities”…

It is then important that organizations begin to build a true teleworking policy and implement it as soon as possible.

It has been almost a year since it all began and it is increasingly clear that the reality of working from home is here to stay (although in a percentage to be defined for each area). It is then important that organizations begin to build a true teleworking policy and implement it as soon as possible.

Combining the various information available on this subject, it seems necessary to incorporate five realities in this structured teleworking policy:

Isolation/need for contact between people -> is the main disadvantage mentioned by those who are working from home and should deserve our highest priority. We must take into account that there may be people from the same team who were together daily and have not met for a year! There are several possible solutions such as team buildings or virtual events, meetings in the company when possible or, in extreme cases, psychological support to deal with this new reality. In this phase of confinement, we have to attack in a “virtual” way; In the long term we will have other solutions but we can’t wait for this “normality” to do something at this point; 

Support and feedback from supervisors -> our activity is strongly supported on the relationship between the assistant and the supervisor, whether in terms of support/clarification of doubts or in the process of evaluation and operational improvement. Therefore, the dynamics of our operations has always lived a lot on the proximity in the room, and now this has disappeared, making one of the pillars of the teams to fall. So, it is necessary to reinvent this relationship in a telework context where there is no possibility of being “side by side” analysis and debating a customer situation or discussing a call we have just heard; 

Continuous training -> even in a face-to-face operation, this is one of the processes that most tends to fail, for various operational reasons (waiting list, lack of available trainer, team absenteeism, etc.). It is even more difficult to keep this discipline working from home, but it is also more necessary that this training happens, using a combination of e-learning, live training and new interaction/sharing methodologies that allow, for instance, to listen to a call together while discussing it; 

Onboarding of new elements -> in a normal life, customer service operations have a rotation of employees that implies their replacement or additional efforts because of the variations in demand throughout the year. So, the reality of recruiting, training, and onboarding is part of our activity in such a usual way that almost no other activity happens. These processes are today very much based on face-to-face models and their evolution to remote solutions is a great challenge, especially in the monitoring part in the first days of work. This is essential for the new elements to feel that they have all the means to perform their function and, therefore, avoid further rotation; 

the dynamic of knowing what’s new daily depended a lot on the informal conversations you had in the worksite

Information management -> the dynamic of knowing what’s new daily depended a lot on informal conversations in the worksite, either with the supervisor or the colleague next door. This has disappeared, so it is imperative to find and implement alternatives such as reinforcing briefing meetings to open and/or close the day, more updated and easier to use intranets or newsletters with useful information digested and ready to consume; 

The analysis and the paths pointed out in these five areas are not exhaustive but only clues to make us stop and think to restructure the way we work. What these points have in common is how they all deeply affect what we may call the “choreography of the operation”, the way we organize and work on the most basic and repetitive things on a daily basis. In essence, what makes an operation successful or not.

If in the phase of leaving work facilities the concerns were essentially technical and business continuity, in the teleworking phase the correct use and the limit of technology will only be means. The focus has to be on new choreographies of the operation that respond to the above situations with new solutions because the change is really significant and, if we do nothing in time, we will see the negative impact on the teams and, consequently, on the quality of service we deliver.

As in all big changes imposed by reality, there are opportunities to make significant leaps in the way we work. It’s important to stop, think and make sure that we don’t just adapt what we do to teleworking but that we take the moment to rethink everything in a more comprehensive and disruptive way, taking advantage of the opportunities that this new way of working opens, such as, for example, opening the recruitment market to people who previously weren’t available to go physically to a contact center or didn’t have one nearby.

We have to take advantage and make teleworking as successful as we made leaving the work facilities!