ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Tips to Overcome Some Common Obstacles of Shifting to a Remote Workforce


Recently we had the opportunity to speak with Beth Gauthier-Jenkin, Vice President, Sales and Customer Support from Gopher Sport, a company that offers high-quality physical education, sports, and strength and conditioning equipment, about the challenges and changes the current pandemic has had on her contact center, teams and customers.

While there has been the need for many changes, the biggest one has been going from having 1% of the Customer Service and Sales team members working from home full time to 95% working from home. Beth spoke about the challenges they’ve encountered while making this transition to remote working, both from her point of view and that of her individual team members, and some of the actions they have taken to overcome some of these obstacles.

Here were the challenges, and the actions taken:

Leadership Challenge: Communication.

Finding creative and diverse ways to keep everyone informed, accountable and engaged. Initially, email was the primary method of internal communication. However, as email traffic increased, so did finding time to read and respond, which quickly highlighted the need for alternative approaches to getting information to and from the team.

Actions taken: Communication

Use multiple communication channels.

Beth says they use IM and email for those who prefer the written word and take advantage of internal or external video platforms to stay connected using live voice and visual. Clear expectations are set for what and when these channels work best.

Communicate more frequently.

Every morning the entire team has a 10-minute, all-hands teams meeting. The expectation is that everyone will log in and turn their webcams on. They have found the visual aspect helps teams get their day started right and holds them accountable for being present and engaged. They also close the day with another 10-minute individual team meeting where they share challenges and wins.

Team/Individual Challenge:

Informal learning and support. They indicated that part of what makes them a team gets lost when everyone is working remotely. Team members said they missed the informal learning and sharing that happens when they are all physically together because they can’t hear or share “in the moment tips”, customer situations etc.

Actions taken: Team dynamics

Find unique and fun ways to create connection and keep people engaged.

A few examples of what Gopher Sport has done include the following: they’ve hosted “home office scavenger hunts” and asked individuals to submit pictures of their home office as well as a picture of something that is in their immediate surroundings that makes them smile and gives them joy.

Set clear expectations and boundaries.

This is critical so individuals know what the company expects, what the customers expect and what they expect of each other.

It is clear that leadership, communication, teamwork, and providing the right tools, resources, and training are even more critical in these unprecedented times, and that Gopher Sport has stepped up to the challenge.

If you’re looking for a great way to help your team meet challenges like these ICMI has tools, resources, and training designed to help contact centers when flexibility is critical. One such resource is our online self-paced Agent Development Program. This program can help your team with:

Assisting new hires. Typically, new hires are assigned a more senior agent to sit with or have a mentor/coach to help them transition from classroom to the floor. And while the ability to quickly raise a hand, hear what other agents are saying, see screen navigation etc. is difficult in a flexible work environment, the Agent Development Program aims to keep the crucial interactive elements of training alive.

Building new skills and handling new customer situations. Many of the contact center leaders I have spoken with over the last few weeks have expressed the need to help agents pivot to new contact types and customer scenarios. What customers needed and wanted yesterday has in many cases changed, leaving agents to handle new and different scenarios. The Agent Development Program can help your front lines be more nimble and more effective in the face of difficult customer interactions.

Learning and sharing among peers. The self-paced and condensed format of the online Agent Development Program allows for agents and their supervisors learn at a rate that suits their various schedules and goals. This allows teams to flexibly schedule times for discussion, reflection, and sharing of knowledge. Plus, the quizzing and reporting features of the platform provide feedback for leaders to assess areas of strength and weakness, allowing you to work faster towards your performance improvement initiatives.

Get in touch with an ICMI expert today, and see for yourself how ICMI can help you succeed during these trying times.

Topics: Coronavirus, Remote And Virtual Teams, Management And Budgeting