Tue, May 30, 2023
With the continuous evolution of technology, an increasing number of companies are adopting the hybrid work model. With employees working remotely and in-office, companies need to leverage technology to ensure seamless communication and collaboration, and ensure productivity is maintained.
There are many challenges associated with hybrid work. In this article, we will explore the significance of technology in hybrid work and how it can help your business succeed in this new era of work. With our own teams working both remotely and in-office, at Ventrica we understand the challenges experienced by many businesses over the last few years. However, with the right approach and use of technology, you can bridge the gap and make it work for your business too.
Technology plays a crucial role in the success of hybrid work – quite simply it wouldn’t be possible without the right tools and systems in place. It can be challenging for employees to collaborate efficiently and complete their tasks when the hybrid work solutions are either unreliable or non-existent. Here are some of the technologies that are crucial for hybrid work:
Effective communication is vital to the success of hybrid work, and companies must provide their employees with communication tools that enable them to stay connected and collaborate effortlessly. Some of the most popular communication tools for hybrid work include platforms like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams which have all become ubiquitous in hybrid work environments in recent years, enabling employees to stay connected and collaborate in real-time.
For contact centres, effective communication means ensuring advisors feel included and not isolated when working remotely compared to those working on site. According to research by Jabra, whilst 60% of employees agree hybrid work is ideal, just 30% strongly agree their organisation is providing them with the necessary technology to help them collaborate both equally and inclusively. This can cause a huge divide when it comes to providing the best possible customer experience.
Cloud computing is another essential technology for a hybrid work environment. With cloud-based solutions, employees can access their work files and applications from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection. Organisations have to make it easy for staff to work remotely, connect with customers, and collaborate with their colleagues without issue. Advisors working in a cloud contact centre must, of course, have a reliable connection to the Internet. Ideally the employer will provide this, ensuring that it is also secure.
All hardware being used by remote workers, such as a laptop, must have preinstalled applications that ensure employees can access everything they need and the correct logins to access cloud-based solutions. This also includes training materials which are essential for the onboarding of new remote employees.
Project management tools are essential for keeping track of tasks and deadlines within a hybrid work environment. These tools allow employees to collaborate on projects, assign tasks, and track progress, regardless of their physical location. These tools include Workforce Management (WFM) software to enable you to schedule. Having this accessible in a cloud contact centre means advisors can work with flexibility by updating shift hours and preferences, whilst it ensures call management can be as efficient as possible during both peak periods and quieter hours. You should also deploy monitoring tools to track the productivity of workers without being too intrusive.
Hybrid working presents challenges that can be solved with the right hybrid technology, helping employees to overcome common issues with working remotely. Many challenges aren’t just simply to do with having the right technology and systems in place – it’s as much to do with how effectively they are used by line managers and employees. A company can invest heavily in infrastructure and resources, but if they are not being used as intended, issues can begin to emerge.
● Lack of face-to-face interaction - many remote workers will be working in isolation, which can lead to communication challenges. If regular face-to-face contact isn’t part of their day-to-day, this leads to lower engagement and decreased productivity for some advisors. Having regular video calls through a communication platform can address this quickly and help with inclusion. These should include both one-to-one as well as larger team meetings, which are essential for both training and gathering feedback.
● Technology-related distractions leading to reduced productivity – having clear communication protocols will ensure your remote workers understand how they should be using communication tools and WFM systems effectively. Reducing distractions that come with using collaboration tools is crucial too, as too many notifications or chat threads can quickly become overwhelming in a remote environment when compared to in-office. Providing your teams with best practices and clear usage protocols can help guide them to work as productively as possible.
● Cybersecurity risks in remote work – of course, one of the bigger challenges is ensuring hybrid and remote workers are following cybersecurity measures. This has become a critical concern for businesses, so companies need to ensure that their data and networks are secure, regardless of where employees are working from. Cybersecurity tools like VPNs and firewalls are essential for hybrid work environments, enabling employees to access company resources securely without issue. Training should be provided to employees for the correct use of company property when working remotely and ensuring best practices are followed. With the addition of new communication channels, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that customer data is stored and handled securely. This requires robust data management processes, including data encryption and strict access controls.
● Impact on the Customer Experience - while hybrid technology can offer many benefits, including increased efficiency and flexibility, if not implemented correctly it can impact CX and your brand reputation. The customer journey has to be considered when implementing a hybrid model, so ensuring that the technology is integrated seamlessly will help your organisation continue to deliver exceptional customer service. According to Gallup, 8% of hybrid workers believe that it’s more challenging to meet customer needs, whilst 22% cited disrupted processes as a top challenge.
To make a success of hybrid and remote working, companies need to have a strategic approach. Having a remote work culture is just as important as having the tools to work efficiently, so organisations need to consider not only what hybrid workforce technology they need, but also how agents will be trained to use the technology, and how they will be monitored.
● A focus on effective communication and collaboration tools helps maintain seamless interaction between both on-site and remote advisors. This should include platforms that provide video conferencing, instant messaging, and other real-time collaboration.
● Hybrid technology needs to be scalable as well as flexible so that it can change when needed to accommodate business needs. For example, if during peak demand periods there’s a need for increased capacity, having cloud-based solutions that will adapt to this effortlessly can ensure the right resources are always available to handle enquiries, especially when providing omnichannel services.
● Time tracking software and WFM are a necessity to ensure remote workers are being effectively monitored. Team leaders can manage their hybrid teams with all the data they need and monitor employee activity and productivity, ensuring that employees are staying on track and completing their work on time.
● Cybersecurity measures need to be implemented to protect against data breaches and cyber threats, so making remote work as safe and secure as possible, just like you would with in-office systems, is critical.
● Schedule regular virtual team-building activities to promote social connections and reduce feelings of isolation. This way, you can ensure engagement levels are high and help provide fun ways to break up the workday. This will help hybrid teams connect with employees they may not interact with often, building rapport throughout your teams.
The role of technology in hybrid work is significant, and companies that continue to adapt to this way of working successfully are primed for better engagement and improved CX and EX. Being mindful of the potential challenges and taking necessary steps to address them is all part of building a hybrid work infrastructure that works efficiently.
With the right technology and strategies in place, hybrid work can offer a flexible, productive, and fulfilling work experience for both employees and your business – just don’t forget to stay ‘human’ and build connections with your remote workers. According to Gartner research, human-centric work environments are 3.8 times more likely to see high employee performance, so the effort in providing flexibility and empathy-based management with a hybrid model is worth it.
You can discover further insights into employee engagement as well as how to be more human in the modern workplace in our resources and articles. At Ventrica, we continuously review and adapt how our hybrid teams work to ensure we provide the service our clients and customers expect. To learn more about our FCA-approved contact centre and how we can help your business provide better CX, contact us today.
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