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The Challenges of a Remote Workforce--Tips for Increasing Employee Engagement

Halloween is coming up quickly and many contact centers are preparing for how they will celebrate with their staff.  Many will allow their agents to dress up and some will even have contests for the best costume, most original theme for a team and most creative way that their cubicle was decorated.  This is a great way to involve your staff in a fun activity, unless they are a remote agent…  How do we involve the remote agents in these kinds of in-house activities, contests and fun?

This is a common challenge for contact centers with remote agents and something that they have to work through for achieving more than just the fun of the center.  What is the best way to keep these agents engaged and feeling included in the culture of the center?  We encounter this problem on a regular basis as a provider (and user) of cloud solutions for contact centers.  The flexibility of working-from-home is a major benefit to the cloud, but it can result in employee disengagement as remote agents sometimes feel left out.
Some of the top tips that we have learned over the years for working with remote agents are:

  • Use video for meetings – 1 on 1 meetings over video will feel more personal and using video for your team meetings will allow your team to form stronger bonds with each other.
  • Provide access to their team – one of the easiest ways to get help during a contact is to pop your head over the top of your cube to see who has an answer or idea for you.  Since remote agents don’t have this option, give them access to their team via a secure instant messenger program.
  • Build areas for collaboration and sharing – an intranet site can provide many options for engaging your remote team.  They can use the site to access areas such as a knowledgebase or program sites, but also you can give the chance to have personal pages that they can use to create a profile.  Profile pages can enable them to feel more connected with others and may even give them the ability to post kudos to other members of their team.

One of the hardest things about having a mixed location environment is creating a virtualized version of what it would feel to be in the office.  The remote agent has benefits that in-office agents do not such as the shortest commute and a much different dress code.  However, many still want the engagement aspect of what a water cooler or break room provides.  Hopefully some of these options will fit with the environment and goals of your contact center and enable you to strike the proper balance between employee satisfaction and engagement.

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