For customer support leaders, it’s all too easy to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to managing the team. After all – people are people.
So, managing people is the same, whatever environment they are in?
This is true to a certain extent, because we all have our characteristics, traits, strengths and weaknesses wherever we are based, however managing work-at-home agents requires a different approach.
Reliance on face-to-face contact
In a classic contact centre environment, managers rely very much upon eye contact, visual cues, and line of sight. They can see what their agents are doing simply by looking over at their screens, feedback can be delivered instantly, and agents can signal if they require assistance.
Although this face-to-face approach is highly effective in the contact centre, in a work-at-home environment it simply doesn’t work because there’s no visible contact. Therefore, the management style must be adjusted accordingly so that remote teams function effectively and efficiently.
By training managers well in specific methodologies to connect to home-based employees, using the available technology, achieving effective and efficient communication with work-at-home agents, does make it comparable with in-centre, face-to-face management.
Within the in-centre environment, management strategies typically encourage collaboration and team work to achieve business goals and objectives. In the work-at-home environment this isn’t possible in the traditional way, with agents located at home and typically working to tailored shift patterns that achieve work-at-home efficiencies.
Managers must employ relevant strategies in order to ensure that work-at-home agents can engage and collaborate with their team. For example, a pre and post-handover via a group video call for teams working in shifts. Or, utilising chat or business social media platforms to engage with the home-based team.
Advances in available technology have made contact and collaboration significantly easier. While home-based agents are physically remote from their managers and colleagues, platforms help them connect, allowing leaders to manage teams in a way that is more consistent than an in-centre approach.
For example, systems allow agents to ask questions in real time while managers can monitor their team and provide feedback and support as and when needed, much as they would do in an in-centre environment. These platforms are also used to engage with team members, ask questions, and receive support from the team – just as agents would do in the traditional environment.
The remote management tools enable analysis of agent activity, identifying which applications they have used, when, and for how long. And, although looking over an agent’s shoulder isn’t possible, the technology makes it possible to observe what’s happening on an agent’s screen, even blocking access if necessary.
While people are essentially people, requiring similar levels of management regardless of where they are based, traditional in-centre management approaches must be changed when managing work-at-home teams. Technology makes it easier than ever to effectively and efficiently manage home-based teams.
To find out more about the unique demands of managing work-at-home teams, or to discuss how SYKESHome can help you deploy home-based agents, please get in touch.