Typically, companies plan for months or even years before transitioning their employees to working remotely. It usually involves lots of careful planning and preparation for both managers and employees. However, in the wake of COVID-19, businesses were forced to transition within a matter of days, leaving little to no time for planning.
In the home-services industry, technicians and salespeople spend the majority of their day working autonomously in the field, so they are used to working remotely—at least to some degree. But what about working remotely 100% of the time? What about your call center and office staff? What do you as managers and leaders need to do to keep your team connected, motivated, and performing?
1) Set Expectations & Don’t Assume: This is a big one! We are in unchartered territory so you can’t assume your employees are going to know exactly what to do and when to do it. As soon as possible you need to outline your expectations and share them with your team.When outlining expectations be sure to include:
- How and when they should communicate.
- How performance will be tracked.
- How and when you will meet.
- Video-call etiquette (yes, you even need to tell them what they are expected to wear, unless you want them in pjs).
- Availability and when they are expected to work.
2) Stay Connected: Now more than ever it’s important to stay connected with your team. It’s easy for your team to feel isolated when working remotely. Your CCR may be used to popping into your office to ask for help but may feel uncomfortable or like he/she is bothering you now that they have to call. Make it clear that all lines of communication are open and make sure you are still doing huddles, 1:1s, debriefs, and informal check-ins, even if they are virtual. Don’t just communicate on work-related topics. Ask them how their weekend was or how their family is doing. Make sure you don’t miss any birthdays!
3) Stay Focused on Goals: Look at your team’s accomplishments, not just their activity. Yes, the call count may be down, but what are they doing with the calls they are getting? Is your CCR’s call-booking ratio where it should be? Are your technicians closing more calls or getting higher tickets? Staying focused on their goals is a more efficient and motivating way to monitor their productivity.
4) Maintain Your Company Culture: Many teams fear that by going remote, company culture will suffer. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth so long as team leaders make an effort to maintain it. With some creativity, teams can maintain a strong company culture. For instance, regular video conferencing, rewards for accomplishments (such as gift cards), and having a place for team members to chat casually (such as a Slack™ channel or WhatsApp™ group) can help bring employees together.
5) Get Your Team Involved: This is new for everyone so it’s ok if you do not have all the answers. Ask your team for suggestions and ideas. Work together to set expectations, figure out ways to stay connected, or ways to maintain the culture. Getting your team involved will increase their engagement, accountability, and buy-in.
6) Trust Your Team: One of major concerns is that your employees may not be as productive at home as they would be in an office. Yes, there will be challenges along the way and you won’t be able to control everything all of the time, so it’s important to let your employees find their own solutions to challenges that arise when necessary and suggest how to improve things moving forward.