Published: May 05, 2020 | Comments
By now, you have adapted to the initial “hair on fire” moments of COVID-19. You may have made up new policies and implemented changes without a clear plan for the future. After the initial chaos, many contact center leaders must stop to take a breath. As we deal with the new normal, it may be time to also begin to think about the short-term future for your business.
Here are five issues to consider as you make that plan:
1. Work from home is here to stay.
Many companies may have stumbled into the reality that every employee can work from home. In the future, this will become less of an emergency response, and more of an expectation.
After some initial concern, many employees have become comfortable with the pace and the happiness of working from home. A recent Gallop poll found that 59% of employees would prefer to continue to work remotely as much as possible once public health restrictions are lifted. A good work-from-home policy may become a key component of a valued employee experience, and your best employees may even begin to migrate to companies who have strong work-from-home programs. In addition, company executives are probably already considering the possible real estate and operational savings that such a policy affords. You can expect there to be a push to rethink the traditional contact center cubes model.
2. Training and onboarding will move mostly online.
Content management, real-time training guides, and knowledge management systems will need to be better than ever. Work-from-home employees cannot “ask the tribe” in person for answers. A combination of internal chat and AI-assisted knowledge base management options that answer employee questions will quickly be a requirement for success.
3. Technology priorities may need to change.
Cloud is now mainstream, if not table stakes, and the movement to the cloud will reach a new level of urgency. Even areas of a business that were once considered untouchable for cloud migration, due to perceived security risk, will require a second look.
4. Online communication channels are now a necessity.
Most companies have already invested in an employee collaboration system. But our customer processes need to change to engage the functionality of these systems more effectively. Applications like Slack, Teams, Chatter, and Jabber are great examples of how we can communicate - but it is a good time to review processes to do work differently and more efficiently.
Employee engagement will move to new channels, as well. Internal website, video messaging and internal engagement systems like Slack and Teams will become part of our communications plans. Zoom meetings will continue to change the way we meet as teams and with each work-from-home employee.
5. Human Resource policies need to be redefined.
For those companies that decide work from home is not a regular option, perhaps the most impactful change will happen in how we view sick employees. Contact centers were not designed for social distancing, but we will have to adapt. No longer will we want employees with a cold or cough to power through at the office - since those symptoms may be evidence of more contagious sickness. Companies will need to rethink sick day allocations and personal time off.
If you’re no longer in moment-to-moment crisis mode, this is a good time to grab a notebook, find a quiet place with a drink of your choice, and think about the new post-COVID-19 world. Keep your employees at the forefront of your plans. While their location may change and the way they work may be different than before, they will need your support to support your business in this new era.