This article was published on Information-Age.
How to leverage the cloud in a remote working environment? Here are some best practices from the rapid migration of over 220,000 active employees to work-at-home.
While you may be unfamiliar with Teleperformance, your customer experience leaders are sure to recognise the brand. The global leader in outsourced customer care, we employ over 330,000 employees around the world, in over 80 countries, and engage with customers in over 265 languages and dialects. Acting as an extension of our client’s brands, it’s likely you’ve spoken with our highly skilled interaction experts without even realising it.
With such a large workforce inhabiting all regions of the globe, our biggest responsibility once the COVID-19 crisis hit was to protect our most valuable resource — our people. We also had a responsibility to continue supporting our clients at such a critical time for their customers. So, we realised early on — during the early days in China — that the best way to achieve both was to migrate office-based employees to a remote, work-at-home model. In doing so, we found creative ways to accelerate the normal processes. What would normally take months got done in weeks. And what would typically take weeks was finished in days. Fortunately, we had already established robust work-at-home practices that had been honed over the past decade. So, we just had to expedite our normal deployment processes — many of which involved managing our remote environments via the cloud.
Once it became clear that the threat had spread beyond the China confines, those new best practices for accelerating implementation became our secret weapon – providing the right foundation for moving an unprecedented 220,000 active employees to a remote environment in just nine weeks.
Here are our top 10 tips to help companies navigate the “new normal” in a post-pandemic, remote working world:
DO consider implementing the following:
1) Establish a work-at-home foundation
During the crisis, we validated that it was far easier to migrate employees to work-at-home for clients that had already established at least some degree of WAH capabilities. So, to help prepare clients for longer-term business resilience, we strongly recommend that companies establish some sort of WAH footprint now, so they can be more agile, and move more quickly, later.
“Having had that work-at-home pilot before the crisis, we were able to ramp up quickly. Teleperformance was so rapid with getting agents prepared and equipped to work from home,” said Tricia Thomsen, director of care at Grubhub.
2) Maximise agility and scalability with a cloud-based model
The easiest way to quickly scale capacity up or down when business needs change is with a flexible, cloud-centric delivery model. Cloudshoring is a next-generation CX model that optimises remote teams and maximises staffing and scheduling flexibility. An innovative new service delivery and management model for overseeing remote teams, the benefits of Cloudshoring far exceed those of traditional work-at-home models. For example, US-based online marketplace provider WISH was able to migrate 100% of their workforce to work-at-home during COVID-19 in just 24 hours using our Cloud Campus model.
“To have that tight of a turnaround was extremely impressive. TP really exceeded our expectations with zero service disruptions and no impact to our SLAs. Hats off to TP in adapting to the pandemic,” added Phil Dean, head of global support operations for WISH.
3) Further scale work-at-home through BYOD
While most companies have already undergone their transition to work-at-home, others may still be considering it as part of their business resilience and continuity planning for the future. If so, the transition to work-at-home can be simplified and accelerated by offering a BYOD option. For example, to accelerate the process for Grubhub, we introduced a bot that validated each employee’s home system for internet connectivity, PC compatibility, and software requirements.
“We need to move fast. Our marketplace requires it, and we need partners that will be on pace with that,” explained Thomsen.
4) Address remaining security gaps
In the rush to implement remote work options, many organisations were forced to cut corners and shortcut the usual safeguards. So, now that work-at-home is here to stay, it’s essential to identify and address any security gaps. Because we support clients across all industries — including Healthcare, Financial Services, and Governments — we regularly manage sensitive data, and already have robust and comprehensive security, fraud prevention, and employee oversight policies, practices, and tools in place. However, this is probably not the case for work-at-home newcomers, and a security audit is probably in order.
5) Centralise support for remote workers
Because we’ve already delivered work-at-home services for decades, our 2019 focus was to further innovate and streamline our processes and delivery models. So, we have introduced a new Cloudshoring model that includes a network of centralised hubs around the world. These Cloud Campus Hubs act as command centers with centralised support teams like supervisors and human resources, keeping remote teams engaged, connected, and supported. This model offers optimal efficiencies from a resource perspective, while also ensuring consistent policy, practice, and performance standards.
It’s also important to avoid the following pitfalls — the “DON’Ts”:
6) Don’t ignore the data
In a less formal, remote work environment, it can be challenging to ensure that employees remain on-task, and deliver the same quality of service. So, performance analytics are critical for overseeing and optimising remote workers, for attaining the same KPI levels as a physical, site-based model, and for ensuring employee compliance.
“We love and embrace innovation, analytics, and collaboration and Teleperformance is an equal partner with us on that. It’s a pretty special experience and makes a difference when we need to move quickly,” said Thomsen.
7) Don’t store sensitive customer data locally
A critical data security and fraud prevention factor is to avoid storing any company data locally, on the remote worker’s device. Rather, it is far safer to store all customer data centrally so that, when an employee logs off for the day, they can no longer access any sensitive information. This is one of the many safety measures that a robust, cloud-based work-at-home solution can offer.
8) Don’t underestimate the power of chat
For the first time in human history, five generations are living, working, and quarantining together — actively influencing one another’s behaviors regarding technology adoption and channel usage. This, combined with the reduction in live interactions, is forcing older generations to use new, digital channels. Among them, there is a dramatic increase in the adoption of chat with a live agent.
9) Don’t forget your people
Beyond the obvious benefits of enabling remote work for both employees and employers, don’t forget that people are social creatures. The most effective teams — in an office, or elsewhere — share a sense of purpose and camaraderie. So, it’s important to invest in the tools and technologies that help facilitate those personal connections among team members. That’s why our Cloud Campus model focuses so heavily on keeping remote teams engaged and socially connected.
10) Don’t do it alone
Like any new service or technology that comes with a steep learning curve, it’s often faster to seek support from existing experts. In our industry, because this has been our sole focus for over 40 years, no one understands CX-related practices and technology better. So, we have seen a sharp increase in engagements with companies who had previously managed their CX in-house. With so many new advancements around AI, and the mass migration to an unfamiliar, remote environment, it’s exponentially faster to “partner source” these skills through a company like ours. It’s all we do, every day, all year long, for over four decades.
If the crisis has taught us anything, it’s that work-at-home is here to stay for the vast majority of us. And, whether it becomes the daily norm for your organisation, or just a part of your overall business resilience plan, we all need to evaluate — and re-evaluate — our work-at-home strategies. The “new normal” comes with new perceptions around remote work that we all must embrace — or risk more than just short-term customer disappointments.
To learn more, read our white paper on establishing true business resilience to learn in-depth, longer-term strategies for weathering this crisis, and the next.