Remote Call Center Agents Excel with Proper Management
Remote work and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend are fundamentally changing the way business is conducted. Employees want the flexibility and convenience of being able to work remotely, while businesses are discovering the financial benefits of not having to maintain a full-time physical office space for workers. The remote work model is especially convenient for call centers, and maintaining geographically dispersed agents in various time zones is a major benefit.
The question then becomes, how can remote call center agents be managed efficiently and effectively? From a technology perspective, work-at-home (WAH) is a no brainer for any agent with a decent Internet connection. Agents can use their own devices to remotely access a virtual desktop, enabling managers to keep tabs on them just as they would if they were in a central office or call center. And the technology infrastructure is already in place for performance management, coaching and training of agents.
One of the critical components for managing a call center with remote agents is to ensure the right types of people are being hired. Agents entrusted with working remotely are generally autonomous self-starters who do well with problem solving and time management. Successful remote agents will typically enjoy working independently outside an office environment and will also be very comfortable with technology and virtual management.
According to Harvard Business Review, remote call center agents answer 13.5 percent more calls than those located in an office or call center facility, making them more productive overall. The study attributes the higher call rate to being in a quieter environment without distractions, a lack of commute time and fewer sick days. Real Business predicts half of U.K. businesses will allow flexible working by the end of this year, which means nearly three million companies will retain some form of remote employee. The model clearly works well with proper implementation, communication and management.
Call centers that employ remote agents should also understand the importance of hosting some face-to-face meetings and training. Bringing staff together to share ideas can boost morale and foster camaraderie, while also facilitating collaboration and innovation. If in-office meetings are not possible due to time and geographic logistics, these types of meetings can be held virtually through video conferencing, webinars and other collaborative applications.
The benefits of remote call center agents outweigh any perceived flaws with the WAH model. With proper management and plenty of communication, remote agents can excel and surpass their in-house counterparts, making them valued members of the call center organization.
Edited by Alicia Young