For some companies, remote workers began as retrofits of crumbing brick-and-mortar business models. More an offshoot of corporate shakeups than any planned workplace efficiency.
Yet, as workspace shrunk, mindsets changed and technology advanced. Mobile workforces became more practical and accepted. What began as draconian downsizing turned into, oddly enough, an occupational sea-change.
So much so, that today GlobalWorkplaceAnalystics.com reports: “50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of workforce telecommutes with some frequency.”
Virtual from the Get-go
At Working Solutions, we were ahead of the curve. Decades, in fact. We began as a virtual contact center business 20 years ago. From the outset, contractors—working at home across America—formed the core of our operations.
For a virtual, homeshore workforce to be viable, organic processes and practices need to be in place from the start. Nowhere is this more important than in engaging remote workers.
And while there’s a lot written on telework—from Inc. to Entrepreneur to Business News Daily, our focus here is on independent contractors, who supply their skills on demand.
Engaging On-Demand Agents
These are five ways we engage agents, communicating with them on many levels.
we’re right there with them. That’s by design—making sure questions are answered promptly about customer calls, scheduling work and assessing performance. With Vyne, our propriety agent portal, communications is integrated. It’s a one-stop shop, where agents chat with co-workers, get job alerts and access to a skills toolbox. Vyne is complemented by our Facebook site. There, agents share personal thoughts, comments and create a greater sense of community.
“WooHoo” is our rallying cry at Working Solutions. When agents feel included and appreciated, they will always go the extra mile. We encourage them to share ideas in the virtual suggestion box, do 1:1s with management and meet monthly online with agents on the same client programs. The WooHoo crew reviews agent suggestions, motivational ideas and contributions—spreading the word. Nothing is off limits and agent engagement is encouraged across all functions, from recruiting to development to operations.
Pulling a team together weekly or every few days keeps remote agents connected. These huddles can last 15 minutes, with highlights on performance, work tips and agent spotlights. Every month, a virtual town hall is worth doing. Agents submit questions before, during and after the event. Rallies are a great time to motivate agents, focus on business issues and champion clients.
Celebrating success and showcasing agents’ good work are essential. We combine work hard with play, with long-distance celebrations, such as pizza parties catered to agents’ doorsteps—anchovies and all. Beyond that, company chief executive Kim Houlne hosts several agent luncheons a year nationwide. There, she recognizes contributions, business milestones and service anniversaries.
Good Morning America has nothing on us. Every morning, many of our client programs take time to do a quick, coffee-talk video. A daily level-set makes for level heads on the job. It’s a personal way to start things off right, sharing information. Guests includes clients, agents and Kim, Working Solutions founder.
Other Reads: Engaging Remote Workers
There’s a lot of information out there on connecting with remote workers. Here are some sources about how to do it well.