Thursday, April 2, 2015

7 Ways to Make Virtual Employees Feel More at Home

By: CJ Silva

If you’ve never had the opportunity to work remotely, that chance is coming.  Companies are rapidly realizing the benefits of teleworking and taking advantage of them.  As a result of this push toward teleworking, more advanced technologies, and general improvements to the bottom line, more people around the world are finding themselves working at home.

While working at home offers many advantages, there are still some disadvantages to having virtual members of the team.  Most of these drawbacks revolve around communications issues.  It is, however, quite possible to develop a virtual team which works quite well both together and with clients.

  1.  Establish a Common Language
    Language barriers can make anyone feel that they are not part of the common group for their call center.  Take the time to establish a single language to be used within the call center so that everyone feels like they are part of the team and inside the circle.  Just like call center solutions, the language which works best is the language your clients use.
  2.  Work on a Shared Communication Center
    It honestly doesn’t matter whether you’re communicating through Skype or through Google Hangouts, as long as everyone is operating within the same system.  A big reason to have a shared communication center is to also have written records of the communications which you’re having with coworkers. 
  3. Have a Few Chat Areas
    Chances are, remote or in person, you’re talking with your coworkers all the time about how you can make your call center run better, issues that may come up with clients, and more.  Everyone within the center is on the journey, and making yourself available within the chat rooms is essential.
  4. Have a Chat Area to Blow Off Steam
    Virtual chat areas are necessary for people to feel like they’re a part of the team.  A lot of the ‘feeling part of the team’ can come from soft conversations – conversations that happen around the water cooler and just in passing.  While you cannot easily simulate walking by someone’s office, you can have a virtual break room where people can talk about non-work things.
  5. Regular Meetings
    Regular meetings are part and parcel of the work environment, and having them through a virtual communications center is vital to helping remote workers feel at home.  Have those meetings regularly with a certain format.  Offer kudos and talk about what’s going on, but keep these meetings short.
  6. Make Sure Roles are Posted
    Have a shared document which outlines who does what within the company, so you can talk with and get assistance from the right person.  There’s nothing like going to the wrong person, and that wrong person doesn’t know who to tell you to report to.  The common document can create rapport.  To take it one step further, you can have an area on the ‘control’ document which outlines non-work things to see if you and your coworkers have common interests.
  7. Offer Kudos
    It feels wonderful to be recognized that you’re hard at work and doing something beautiful.  Don’t be afraid of recognizing your other coworkers and making sure that they feel like they’re a part of the loop and part of the team.  With that teamwork, you’ll be able to work easier and better with one another.

    By devoting your attention to communication within the office, both virtual and in-person, the team will not only function better, but every member will feel like they are part of your team regardless of where they are.   It is vital that your employees know that they have someone in their corner, someone who’s been there and who understands the fun that the call center can be.

CJ Silva is VP of Operations at KOVA Corporation.