Remote working is exploding as a result of mobile technologies. An estimated 33 million Americans work remotely for all or part of their workweek, and the forecast doubles by 2016.
Enterprise road warriors are getting more work done now than ever before, with less down time. Flexibility and convenience is driving speed to market at a newfound pace.
For mid and back office support functions, remote working is liberating people to choose their ideal workplace - while controlling or reducing the high price of real estate.
And for contact centers, remote working opens up massive pools of US-based talent, flexible, variable staffing, sky-high employee satisfaction and retention, and improved attendance and productivity.
A recent survey conducted by Customer Contact Strategies by 200+ organizations revealed the following results:
- 74% of participants reported improved attendance
- 64% reported improved employee retention
- 58% reported productivity improvements
But how do we ensure that remote workers are as engaged, and as productive as their in-house counterparts? Three critical success factors:
1) Well defined expectations. Employees perform at their best when they know what is expected of them, check. For remote employees, that equates to well-defined job responsibilities, highly visible performance results and clear expectations on participation from a virtual perspective (i.e. virtual meeting attendance and contributions, response times to written communications, etc).
2) Job matching. Not every job is a good fit for remote work. And not every employee is attracted to it. Highly successful companies are careful to assess both before transitioning positions.
Best suited for remote work are roles that require less than 60% extensive face-to-face collaboration to produce output. Customer facing positions, content development, data processing and management, quality assurance and verification are terrific fits for remote work, along with the manager roles that support them.
Not every employee wants to work remotely. It's an extremely personal decision, with many factors that play into it - some of which change over time, based on the personal conditions of the employee and the role the employee holds.
Successful companies invite employees to complete a self-assessment for a remote position, before the organization conducts an assessment or makes a commitment.
3) Strong company culture. This is the big nut to crack, because it requires a very truthful and transparent assessment of current cultural state to be successful. Organizational values and beliefs are conveyed through meaningful and inspirational leadership, and embraced by employees via purposeful activities. Connecting the remote community calls for leadership preparation, business process reworking and technology enhancements to ensure that remote employees are highly visible, engaged, informed, supported and trusted - as equally as their in-house counterparts.
Some hugely successful companies in remote work include American Express, Aetna, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.