Bringing Teams Together: The Challenges And Opportunities Of Hybrid Working

Our recent survey on Hybrid Working in the Contact Centre has been published as a free e-book you can download here.

The survey found that hybrid is increasingly being adopted as ‘normal’ practice across the industry, generating benefits for both employers and employees.

When asked what they saw as the main benefits of homeworking, Directors/Managers said:

  • Happier and More Productive Employees (cited by 72% of respondents)
  • Lower Carbon Footprint (61%)
  • Additional Business Continuity (52%) 
  • Traditional Recruitment Barriers Removed (45% of respondents). 

These benefits immediately stand out. Three quarters of Directors/Managers say that their teams are happier and more productive. Now imagine how that translates into improved customer experiences and reduced attrition.

Likewise, almost half of respondents point out that homeworking removing many of the traditional barriers to recruitment (such as physical location). So now picture how much easier it becomes to find the best talent.

Homeworking can clearly have a huge plus side. But it’s important to recognise the challenges too. Pastoral Care (68%) and Communicating Effectively (66%) are the two issues cited most often by the respondents as key hybrid working issues. These issues really focus on the mental health concerns of some workers if they feel isolated at home and the ability for managers to operate in a completely remote environment.

We can see where some of these issues may originate. Under half (48%) of respondents think that their organisations have given Managers and Supervisors sufficient training and advice to manage, train and support their work-from-home teams.

This is an immediate red flag. It suggests that companies have embraced home and hybrid work without fundamentally changing how their managers work and communicate with teams. During the pandemic this was understandable as it was a period of crisis but in 2023 it is inexcusable.

Managers need to be equipped for this workplace. They need to adapt to a working environment where people are measured more by what they deliver than their ability to always be seen at their desks. 

This question of managers not being ready to manage remote workers feeds back into the pastoral challenges that team members are facing. If someone is hired into a WFH role then they will expect to work from home. This is very different to the pandemic situation where office-based people were sent home as an emergency measure. So the isolation and issues faced during the pandemic are now less of a direct issue.

The WFH Manager must also be a great communicator. Managers that are not familiar with the management and communication processes required to lead a large remote team may end up leaving some of the team feeling isolated and without any focus.

This often comes down to having the processes – and tech. Our own teams use a tech platform called LiveDesk that enables all colleagues to function together in a virtual environment as if they were really together in person. This can be a game changer for both advisers and managers. It allows people to really feel they are a part of a team and it allows managers to communicate more effectively.

These issues of communication and employee care are repeated in most studies of home and hybrid work but many of the solutions are surprisingly simple. It just requires a mindset shift. You can’t manage your @home colleagues as if they are a group of isolated individuals.

Bring everyone on the ‘same work mission’ together as a single team – regardless of whether they work at home, hybrid or in the office – and then manage that team as a whole.

The ebook is a fascinating insight into UK contact centres, with all new survey data from the end of 2022. For more information, and to download the complete ebook, please visit our website.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *