If remote working hadn’t yet been on your radar, the current state of the world due to COVID-19 has almost certainly changed things for your business and contact center. As states and businesses close in an effort to control the virus’ spread, business owners are having to make tough decisions about their workforce.
Though you may not be thrilled about having your employees work remotely, there are numerous business benefits to having a remote customer support team. In this article, we explored some of the top advantages of working in remote teams, from home or local coffee shops. If your contact center has the ability to utilize a remote workforce, this change may make a powerful, beneficial difference to the way you do business.
The benefits of a remote team
As a business owner or contact center manager, you likely have legitimate concerns about allowing your agents to work remotely. Maybe you’re wondering:
“How will I know if my remote agents are actively working?”
“Can I coordinate a productive schedule for a distributed team that works across multiple time zones?”
“Will I see negative effects on our customer service if I create a remote team?”
Thankfully, these fears are largely unfounded, especially when your contact center team is equipped with the right tools. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll see even better results when your team is connected by technology rather than proximity.
Before getting into the benefits, however, let’s start with the basics.
What is a remote team?
A remote team includes a group of employees that completes their tasks and collaborates with coworkers outside of office spaces. In terms of a contact center, this can include agents, supervisors and contact center admins. These remote workers may have started in a traditional co-working space before moving home or they may have been hired specifically for a remote position. Though they don’t work in the same space, these teams maintain typical team meetings and communication, just through the phone or over video calls.
Many contact centers build diverse teams by hiring remote workers from across the nation and the globe. This increases access to a larger talent pool and often attracts more candidates, allowing you to build a highly effective team that is the best at what they do.
What are the benefits of remote working?
The decision to move from an office setting to a virtual team affects everyone in the business, so it’s important to know the benefit of remote work for your team and customer service. There are many ways to implement remote work, each with its own perks, but there are some benefits that everyone can experience when working remotely.
1 – Increasing productivity through remote work
Though many business owners and contact center managers worry about work getting done from home, increased productivity is often the biggest benefit of a remote team. A study presented in the Harvard Business Review, for example, showed that remote workers accomplished almost a full additional day’s amount of work per week when compared to on-site employees. Another study found that 45% of remote employees can get more done in less time and 44% are less distracted and more productive than they would be at the office.
For some agents, the ability to find the best environment and schedule for their needs naturally leads to better work. For others, improved productivity is a way to pay back companies that allow them to work from home.
What does this mean for your contact center agents?
Agents who are more focused and productive can increase the number of resolutions they can achieve each day. As they spend more time taking calls and interacting with customers, you can offer faster service and improve customer satisfaction with your business.
2 – Saving money in every department
Much of the costs associated with a business’ overhead go to maintaining physical locations. While the biggest cost is real estate, they also have to pay for utilities, furniture, office supplies, cleaning services, internet access, and more.
By implementing remote agent teams, however, you can make saving money a priority. Eliminating the need to maintain a physical contact center or downsizing to a smaller one allows you to reduce operational costs to the tools and software you need to connect agents with customers. For some companies, this amounts to just tens of dollars a month. Plus, a remote set-up can also benefit your employees’ personal finance needs. According to Inc. Magazine, remote workers can save between $2,000 and $7,000 annually on food, childcare, travel, and personal items. These savings can lessen your team’s stress across the board, contributing to higher job satisfaction and output.
3 – Offering flexible schedules for working at home
A flexible schedule is one of the greatest contributors to remote work productivity. When agents can determine when it works best to spend time on business tasks, they can find the schedule that produces the best results. While some of your agents may work typical office hours, others can choose to work earlier or later shifts.
This allows your workers to find a more satisfying schedule, but it also extends your live-agent customer service beyond normal business hours, enabling late-night social media interactions or early morning calls.
A more flexible schedule can also improve your meeting efficiency. Where a 10:30 a.m. meeting might disrupt a typical workday, remote agents can choose to work around these meetings to get more done. A lack of proximity also tends to limit the amount of small talk that occurs on company time. Rather than losing track of time during a discussion, your remote team will be more focused on servicing customers as calls come in.
4 – Improving the work-life balance
Agent burnout is a serious threat, especially when your staff has to juggle family and personal needs with hourly shifts. By allowing agents to work from home, you offer the ability to find the balance that best fits their individual needs. Parents can work around their kids’ schedules, improving their focus and results. If partners work unusual schedules, your team members can adjust their schedule to maximize time together without affecting their work responsibilities. While some people might place increased family time in both pros and cons columns when it comes to remote work, an improved work-life balance is a positive overall.
5 – Gaining access to the world’s best workers
As we mentioned above, increasing access to top talents is an invaluable benefit to any business. When your agent search isn’t limited by location and schedule, you gain access to a wider knowledge base that can revolutionize the quality and depth of your team’s abilities.
The flexibility and benefits you can offer with a remote position are also more attractive to the talent you want. In a study completed by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, they found that telecommuters earn, on average, $4,000 more annually than on-site workers in the same position. Greater control over their work also lends to happier agents, which can then benefit you and your work immensely.
The benefits of a remote team for both your business and your agents are undoubtedly worth the potential risks. If you are looking to transform your contact center into a remote team, learn more about RingCentral Contact Centre to see how RingCentral can keep your business running in any situation.