The future of customer operations is a more flexible and employee-focused model of work; don’t let your customer’s experience slip.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a sharp increase in the number of people working from home or working remotely. For some teams and companies, this change was a welcome one. Remote working has well-documented benefits both for employees and organizations. In a recent survey, 81% of employees either don’t want to go back to the office at all or would be happier with a hybrid schedule moving forward. However, remote working has its own challenges and the same survey found that 18% of employees wanted to go back to the office full-time, often those with children and a partner also working from home. A hybrid approach is the most effective method of keeping both those who prefer remote work and those who enjoy being in the office happy and productive.
What type of hybrid model will work for your CX team
Hybrid working is a flexible model where employees can split their time between working from home, or remotely, and within the office or company chosen workspace. The scheduling for office and remote work can look different for every team and company but usually fall into four categories:
- Universal: This model is applied to the entire workforce and company, with agreed-upon days for office and remote work. If Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were the chosen “on-site” days, all employees would work remotely on Thursdays and Fridays. Although less flexible for employees there is little doubt as to where employees are or when they will be in. This enables meetings and group work can be scheduled accordingly, either when all employees are in the office, or when they are working remotely.
- Variable: This model is applied on a team-to-team basis, allowing for more choice and flexibility for teams. The company-wide decisions, for example, might that employees need to be in three days a week, and can work remotely for the other two. Your CX team may choose to work in the office Monday to Wednesday, while your sales team may choose to work in the office at the end of the week, from Wednesday to Friday.
- Flexible: This model puts the decision into the hands of individual managers and employees. Managers may decide that their entire team need to be in the office on Fridays for an end-of-the-week meeting. However, employees can then choose what days they would like to be on-site for the rest of the week. This model allows for more flexibility for managers and employees however sets out a clear day for team meetings.
- Fluid: This model is less formal and would likely work best for small companies. Employees can decide to come into the office when they like, meaning some employees may be in full-time or work remotely full-time, while others spend only two days on-site. This model allows companies to keep office space but give more flexibility to their employees.
It’s important to involve managers in decisions to know what works best for your teams. Once a model is applied, it is not set in stone and models should be adapted and updated when needed.
The benefits and the challenges of a hybrid CX team
Each model of hybrid working has its advantages and challenges, but once properly implemented, hybrid models have key benefits for employees and companies.
Benefits of a hybrid work team can include:
- Accessibility to talent: Having a partially remote workforce enables you to access talent across the entire country or even the entire world. Employees who may have been put off by a long commute every day but now only need to make it once a week. They will likely take a job that may have not considered before.
- Resource allocation: Offices can be downsized, or space can be rented from a third-party management company for a couple of days a week. Money that will be saved can be reallocated to employee training and benefits or improving the hybrid work situation with home-office allowances and technology such as portable laptops.
- Better mental health: While some employees enjoy working from home, others appreciate the social connection of working in the same office space and struggle with social isolation. Hybrid working allows people to decide what works best for them, leading to your employees' better mental and social health.
- More opportunities for team collaboration: In a hybrid environment, employees have access to a far larger number of collaborative tools. For high productivity, virtual tools are more effective in some cases, while other projects might require face-to-face, real-time collaboration. Hybrid models allow for both, when and where they are needed.
However, there are challenges for a hybrid CX team as well, such as:
- Visibility into agent productivity: As employees move between the office and remote work, managers may have a harder time gauging the productivity of their team, as well as tracking workload balance and who in their team might be at risk of burnout. You can find out more about the risk of burnout in our blog post, How To Recognize and Avoid Occupational Burnout. To avoid this, companies should adopt a work insights solution, that can collect insights on how their employees are working, enabling them to make changes and improvements wherever necessary.
- Balance of remote and in-office employees: Take time to implement a hybrid model with care, as badly implemented models can lead to a misalignment of those working from home and those working within the office. If you believe that having a dispersed team might hamper productivity, choose to make video the default for meetings, or set aside one day a week that all team members have to be in the office for meetings.
Challenges will arise within any workplace model, but having the right tools in place can make the transition easier. Adopting a hybrid workspace model works for so many companies and their employees and taking the time to implement them correctly makes all the difference.
What to consider when deploying a hybrid model
A well-implemented hybrid model relies on the efforts of both managers and employees.
Consider these four things when creating and implementing your hybrid model:
- Encourage a healthy work-life balance: Remote work can sometimes blur the lines between work life and home life. A hybrid model can help with this but encourage employees to make clear distinctions between their workday and personal lives.
- Communication is key: Distance should not affect communication between managers and employees or team members if it can be helped. Remind employees to email, message or call about any problems they might be having. Also, encourage employees to voice their concerns about the hybrid model early on so changes can be made.
- Support teams by learning how they work best: Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your team members enables managers to make better decisions about how work should be completed. Using work insight solutions allows managers to get to know their employees work habits whether they are on-site or remote working.
- Keep work expectations realistic: Pushing employees to their limits will be detrimental to your team's work culture and productivity in the long run. Keep expectations realistic and set out clear benchmarks and expectations for your team when possible.
Organizations that implement an employee-focused culture of hybrid working are more likely to succeed, with happier employees being 13% more productive. When possible, check in with your teams to make sure the current hybrid model is working for them and adjust accordingly.
How Fin can help you create a productive hybrid CX team
Some of the world’s fastest-growing companies are now turning to Fin to help manage and support their remote and hybrid teams. Fin is an easy-to-install browser plugin that offers insights into how team members work across all SaaS applications.
Fin enabled organizations to have insights into:
- How employees use technology: Identify gaps and underutilized tools and technology within your employee workflow with insights into processes and behaviors. In the long run, money could be saved by discontinuing unused technology or investing in new software and hardware that is used regularly but is outdated and slowing employees down.
- Benchmarks: Create realistic benchmarks for your organization, enabling you to recognize when employees might be struggling and in danger of burnout, or where improvements could be made overall. For more information about productivity benchmarks, download our 2021 Customer Operations Benchmark Report.
- Knowledge gaps and skill development: Gain insight into where employees may need more training. Use the data collected by Fin’s automatic video capture to teach others to perform tasks using the exact methods of top-performing specialists.
- Productivity management: Fin offers a window into how your employees work on a daily basis, enabling managers to identify areas where improvements can be made.
- Employee experience and engagement (avoiding burnout): Hybrid working allows organizations to build their workdays from the ground up and Fin enables managers to base their decisions on actual data. Insights into working hours and focus hours allow managers to prevent burnout, redesign workflows and protect focused working time.
The future of work is changing and for many companies, this means adapting for more flexibility for employees. However, it’s important that workflow and employee engagement doesn’t suffer because of remote and hybrid work. To understand how Fin can help ensure high productivity for your hybrid workforce, contact us to schedule a free demo today.