Hybrid working: real time information provision is the main factor for success

In the customer contact world, hybrid working increases the appeal of the job and the flexibility of the customer contact department: a lack of commuting time creates availability and the planner can apply split shifts. That makes it possible to scale up and down faster, and employers can tap into a larger labor market because travel distance becomes less important.

But hybrid working also comes with disadvantages. Absenteeism among remote agents is increasing, and productivity fluctuates. Hybrid working means employers have to deal with two operations — those at the home office and those at the traditional office. Supervisors are facing a double challenge: they need to get used to the new situation and help their team members navigate all changes. Optimal information provision for both is a challenge — in terms of timing and content.

Are remote workers and office staff still in sync?

Often, the information available in the workplace is not available in the home office in the same form and at the same time. At home, there’s no informal chat at the coffee machine; no floorwalker; no traffic manager; no bulletin board with updates; and no whiteboard that shows employees the latest information. Those who walk into the department and want to catch up with the rhythm of the day know exactly where to look. People who work from home, however, start their working day by logging in, and they’ll just have to wait and see whether a team leader provides an update. On the call center floor, employees can look at wall displays that show queue information. But this data is rarely available on the workstation at home. Team leaders and employees don’t always know which information they and others can access. This difference in access to information puts pressure on the commitment of remote workers.

Hybrid working and real-time processes: a challenge

Real-time information plays an increasingly important role in customer contact. Examples include real-time transactions, increasingly faster delivery, and the role of tracking & tracing. Nowadays, customers expect that the organization they do business with is fully aware of the status quo. Real-time data is required to make optimal decisions but also to analyze the customer contact process — what is going on right now? How do customers respond to campaigns, price changes, or media communications?


In contact centers where information provision and communication are not aligned in both operations, part of the operation is lagging behind, and incorrect information may be provided to customers. Information discrepancy can also lead operational management to make ad hoc decisions (which are common in contact centers) based on the most readily available information — data from the immediate environment, which may give an incomplete picture and therefore result in a suboptimal decision.

To eliminate this information discrepancy between both operations, supervisors and team leaders should take many additional steps. Decision-making processes on adjustments and scaling up and down are also slowed down. Hybrid working increases agility, but fragmented information provision reduces the speed of your operation.

How to solve this problem?

The solution is ‘simple:’ make sure all required information is available to everyone at a glance — anytime, anywhere. By ‘synchronizing’ all customer contact professionals, you’ll also increase the commitment of remote employees and optimize their ability to excel at their jobs. Less control is needed, and decisions lead to results more quickly. The greatest progress is made in the area of employee engagement.

Our main tips

Working in the office and working from home come with different benefits and disadvantages, and remote and onsite employees have different needs. Providing information in a quick, well-balanced way is essential to successful collaborations in hybrid customer contact organizations.

Tip #1: Map out the differences between working at home and in the office — in terms of required and available information, content, and timing. Find out what information is available on the agent desktop and what information is distributed through other channels.
Tip #2: Make sure remote workers gain experience working in the physical office and office employees know what it’s like to work from home. Consider these experiences when implementing tip #3.
Tip #3: Improve information provision with the terms ‘speed’ and ‘real time’ in mind. Integrate the required information resources into the agent desktop and provide fast communication channels such as chat or Yammer.
Tip #4: Bring the office to the home office and vice versa: make sure remote employees can access the wall of ideas available in the office and take the home office seriously — that is, consider it a workplace.
Tip #5: Provide all employees with a personal real-time dashboard that displays performance, knowledge, collaboration, development, working hours, et cetera.

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