Working from home was the dream of many employees who wanted to avoid long and tiring travel to and fro to the office. But many organizations were reluctant to allow working from home as several employees misuse it to their advantage.
But due to COVID19, businesses have no other option but to allow employees to work from home to ensure Business continuity.
Is Work from Home the New Normal?
Many businesses have allowed working from home as a temporary arrangement until the lockdowns are lifted. Even the Government is encouraging businesses to ask employees to work from home as much as possible.
There are several reports where companies like Google have allowed WFH for the rest of 2020 and TCS has set a target to move 75% of their workforce to work from home by 2025.
Based on a recent report from Gartner, 74% of Companies Plan to Permanently Shift to More Remote Work Post COVID-19.
So, it seems Work from Home is here to stay, and it is only a matter of how much % of employees from different functions will be allowed to come to the office.
WFH Challenges & Solutions
The challenges that businesses are facing while allowing employees to work from home can be majorly clubbed into Infrastructure & Security, Communication & Collaboration, and Remote Monitoring.
For many functions across the company, tools like Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Blue Jeans, WebEx are being extensively used as robust collaboration platforms. These tools make working in a distributed environment feel more integrated and efficient.
What are the tools available for customer-facing functions like Contact Center? They are required to handle huge volumes of calls and chats and respond to customers timely to deliver superior customer experience. Let’s dive deep in each of the categories:
Infrastructure & Security:
Most of the contact centers across businesses operate on the bench or desk concept, which means there is only one system or machine shared by several agents across the shifts.
Working from home could be a challenge for such agents who don’t have a laptop or desktop at home. But most of the agents have a Smartphone or in the worst scenario at least a feature phone.
For such agents, there are solutions available that can enable them to operate a contact center on phone.
- For Feature phones: Agents can operate an IVR-based contact center, answer inbound calls, and make outbound calls
- For Smartphone: There are many apps that can allow running a contact center by installing an agent app on their Smartphone. Some agent apps do the same task of enabling them to answer inbound & outbound calls while other enterprise-grade apps allow them to run a full contact center solution while empowering them with app-plexing (multi-tasking between multiple apps) and providing them with omnichannel capabilities
BYOD brings in security-related challenges as contact centers deal with customer information. These can be addressed with cloud contact center solutions where the data is not stored on the agent’s device but only on the secured cloud. Enterprise-grade apps don’t even allow screen or call recording to provide robust security to its customers.
Those agents and supervisors who have laptops can continue their operations as usual with a VPN connection.
Communication & Collaboration
Agents need to communicate with their peers and supervisors to get help when they need to know additional information. In the WFH scenario, interacting and collaborating in real-time becomes a challenge as they are already on the call with the customer.
In such a scenario, Chat-based collaboration, which can be logged and monitored, is the most effective solution.
Supervisors can also use the option to snoop, barge, whisper, or get into a conference with the agent and customer to answer queries that the agent is unable to respond to.
Monitoring agents’ productivity becomes a real challenge when agents are working from home.
Supervisors can use their supervisor dashboard to monitor the number of breaks which agents have taken and also the number of inbound and outbound calls made during the day.
Work from home is here to stay and businesses need to adopt these tools and technologies to ensure the business is run as usual.
Author: Sachin Bhatia
Sachin Bhatia is a tech entrepreneur who is passionate about solving problems for Mid-Large size Businesses. He has travelled to over 40 countries, making Ameyo one of the largest players in the Customer Engagement space in emerging Geographies. He co-founded Ameyo with his fellow IITians, Bishal Lachhiramka and Nayan Jain, in 2003.