7 Tips for Staying Connected with
a Distributed Workforce
by Susan Hash
The last few years have brought about a few considerable changes in the way contact
centers manage their employees. One of the most significant is the growing proportion
of distributed agents—whether they work from home, in other office locations or
in satellite centers.
Those who manage distributed staff have found that communication can be a challenge:
Without regular face-to-face contact, it’s often difficult for managers to ensure
that they’re being effective at communicating with offsite agents, engaging their
staff, managing agents’ performance and development, and developing a cohesive team-based
culture. The following seven tips can help you to stay connected with your distributed
Take a holistic approach to communication.
Don’t rely too heavily on email or other electronic communication tools. Make sure
that you take a holistic approach to communication that includes face-to-face contact,
such as regularly scheduled companywide meetings, team meetings and training sessions,
as well as regular phone calls with managers and senior managers.
Make praise personal.
Excellent performance deserves a personal communication. When agents hit their performance
goals, frontline managers and the senior management team should reach out to them
with a phone call whenever possible. Instant messaging or click-to-chat type applications
can offer an occasional alternative to ensure that the agents receive real-time
accolades for a job well done.
Ensure that written procedures and processes are easily accessible.
Don’t leave it up to your agents to find information and answers about processes
and procedures on their own. Invest in an internal intranet for your policies, procedures,
forms and information. Having Wikipedia- or Google-style searching across a knowledgebase
will help agents to easily and quickly access information.
Promote sharing and conversation on internal wikis.
Many companies are setting up internal wikis to communicate project updates and
promote brainstorming with remote staff. Wikis are particularly useful in a support
team environment because people can post comments and respond to comments by their
coworkers, and it creates a record of the conversation.
Provide an internal social networking site.
While a wiki is a great productivity tool, how can you promote more personal, relationship-building
conversation among your distributed staff? Some companies are offering internal
social networking sites that encourage collaboration among employees, as well as
a place to post the type of non-work-related information that fosters interpersonal
relationships in a traditional workplace, such as classified ads, lunch menus, new
baby announcements, rewards and recognition.
Hold a (virtual) brown bag lunch.
Employees who work together in one location have many opportunities to build close
relationships with other members of their team on a daily basis. One of the best
ways to carve some time out of the workday to spend with staff and coworkers is
to have lunch together—a worksite tradition that remote workers can’t participate
in, or can they? Virtual brown bag lunches (via conference bridges) can be a highly
effective technique for creating a team environment across sites.
Start a team blog to keep people in the loop.
Internal blogs are a great way to share company information, photos and personal
experiences, while keeping distributed staff updated on important events.
Inside View — TravCorp USA
by Susan Hash
Tour operator TravCorp USA has honed its hiring approach into a rigorous four- to
six-hour process that requires candidates to pass seven stages. To staff up for
the peak travel booking season—January through April, during which time call volume
typically doubles—the center adds some 40 agents to its existing staff of 80 FTEs.
For candidates, the hiring process ends when they are offered the job. For the management
team, the process enters another phase: post-hiring analysis, which lasts from April
through June. Managers get together regularly to review their attrition rates, analyze
their successes and failures for the previous hiring round, and discuss how to improve
their success rate.
full story here.