Working remotely (or telecommuting) is becoming increasingly popular as businesses realise employee engagement does not depend on their physical presence in a stuffy office. The wellbeing of employees is paramount to any business because they are its human capital; they need to feel cared for and appreciated.
It is a natural progression for a mystery shopping provider to extend its field team to admin, as well. After all, mystery shoppers work from home to manage their assignments and the tools are in place for them to do so. It wasn’t always so easy. Decades ago mystery shoppers used to have to send in their reports via post or over the phone, but times changed and we changed with them.
At Above Benchmark, we were early adopters of telecommuting. We realised the need to broaden our office dynamic to reflect the changing lives of our team. Our director, Jen Wells, innovated an office “hub”. The hub is where we gather regularly to have meetings, discuss projects, and fine-tune things. However, more often than not, the team work from their home offices.
Here’s why it works:
We don’t spend an hour in traffic or take five toilet breaks an hour just to have a chat and catch up on the office gossip. When our team finishes getting ready for the morning, they start work. This makes us crazy efficient, so we finish tasks in half the time it would take someone in a “normal” office.
The team have become amazing communicators with each other. Because it’s vital that we all understand what is happening during each cycle of mystery shopping, we send a lot of emails, messages, and share documents. Our customer satisfaction team liaises with our mystery shopping team, and so on.
If we have a personal appointment or some other pressing task, we don’t have to take a ‘sickie’, we have the option to work around it. That way, we take our sick leave when we are actually sick. You shouldn’t have to miss your child’s important school events. Work and life should balance, not compete.
If you respect and appreciate your employees, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours. It’s a spin on an oft-used proverb, but it is true of a working relationship too. Employees recognise the trust and faith you extend to them and fosters fierce loyalty.
If you are thinking of implementing this in your workplace, here are a few tips to help make it a success:
Make tech work for you:
Telecommuting is reliant on technology. You need a good messaging system, like Google’s Hangouts. Google Drive is also a wonderful resource that can make you feel connected to everyone on your team. Remote screen-sharing is also invaluable. You also need to keep updating your systems to ensure you are adapting and utilising the best available programs.
Dress the Part:
The image “working from home” evokes is someone at their computer in their pyjamas. Forget that! We dress for work because it’s difficult to take yourself seriously in flannel, let alone clients and mystery shoppers. Dressing for work enables us to take video calls from clients all over the country, at a moment’s notice.
Trust your employees:
You need to be able to trust your staff to do the work they are assigned and to proactively move from task to task, without having to micromanage. Trust that they will appreciate the responsibility and put in 100% because of increased feelings of wellbeing.
Have set working hours so your employees can feel they can “turn off”. It’s easy to leave work behind as the office door closes, but not as easy when your home is your office. Don’t take advantage of your employee’s availability.
Bring the team together regularly, especially to celebrate milestones and achievements. The emotional and psychological support you get from being able to talk to colleagues about your life is important. Working from home can be isolating, so check in regularly with your employees and make the time to get together in person.
We do acknowledge that working from home is not for everyone; some people need the structure and authority that comes with an external office. Therefore, a trial period is important. You will get to know which employees will shine and which ones will spend two hours shopping for a new desk for their home office during work hours.
We know the small amount of effort involved in facilitating remote working is made worth it by the rewards the employees and the company will reap. Away from the confines of a typical office, employees will feel empowered and appreciated, fostering greater engagement. Hopefully this article has encouraged you to think outside the office; even one or two days a week makes an amazing difference.
At Above Benchmark, we’re passionate about helping our clients deliver exceptional service to improve customer loyalty and increase sales. We believe every business needs a customer service benchmark, so employees know what to work towards.
If you’d like to have more loyal customers and increased sales contact us today for a complimentary 30 minute Customer Service Strategy Session.
Simply call 1300 400 716 and let us help you achieve above your benchmark.