It is now more than one year ago that the Corona pandemic forced large parts of the world into lockdown, radically changing the way we work. Many of us were sent off to work from home. A great many of us are still there, and it is not at all unlikely that we will continue to work from home post corona. This may pose a challenge for employers vis-à-vis creating a framework that can maintain good teamwork and, especially, good customer service.
Even though working from home is not a phenomenon created by corona, the past year saw a major escalation. While many people have had to get used to working from home, other changes have also impacted our work routines and job satisfaction. For example, for many companies, COVID-19 unfortunately led to redundancies. This has put the remaining employees under pressure in terms of having to tackle new, or perhaps even more tasks. Similarly, the new shopping habits of customers have resulted in changes in the way they are served and serviced, in the number of enquiries and, particularly, the choice of channels that customers use to contact companies.
A large survey conducted by Zendesk reveals that as many as 50% of all teams worked from home full time during corona – in other words, EVERYONE in a team working CONSTANTLY from home. The same survey reveals that 46% of the customer service agents surveyed, who are working from home, do not feel that they have the right tools for doing their job.
Make the most of working from home with the right tools
Given the importance and inevitability of working from home, managers have been compelled to rethink the organisation of their teams and workflows, and to look into tools that support the work and ensure good customer service.
This entails everything from basic work tools such as internet access, printer, computer, screens etc., to a rational layout of the home workplace and tools such as chat, video conferencing, screen sharing, mind-mapping etc. that serve to improve cooperation. There is also a need for common systems such as CRM, telephony, help desks and, particularly, the integration between the systems to be adapted to ensure an effortless flow of data. Zendesk’s survey also reveals that investment by companies in help desk systems is expected to double in the next few years!
The pros and cons of working from home
According to Zendesk’s survey, 60% of all business leaders plan to offer their staff increased opportunities to work from home after corona. That makes perfect sense. A Global Workplace Analytics survey shows that many companies actually find that they achieve both savings and greater efficiency when their staff work from home.
The benefits include:
- Increased productivity.
- Reduced operating/rental costs.
- Less absence/illness.
- Fewer interruptions, therefore a better workflow and minimal errors.
With the right conditions and the right tools, many staff actually enjoy working from home. However, most would like a hybrid model - a mixture of turning up at the office and some days working from home - since too much working from home, for example, can lead to a cultural collapse in the workplace and a watering down of our common values. It can also be more difficult to onboard new employees, staff with young children struggle to work in peace and quiet, and young employees, just embarking on their careers, miss the personal and professional development they glean by working closely together with more experienced colleagues.
helphouse.io’s close partner Aircall, which provides cloud-based telephony, sees another potential downside to working from home. The boundary between work and private life can easily get blurred, possibly leading to stress, confusion and burnout. Aircall have developed a feature in their telephone system that enables team members to make their presence visible easily and to plan the presence between team members, thereby covering the working day sensibly.
When the Corona pandemic once again allows us to go to work, many companies will need to find the right balance between working from home and coming to the workplace, and make sure that the right tools and conditions are available so that employers, employees and - of course - customers are taken into account.