Almost overnight, last March almost half of the UK’s workforce adopted some degree of working from home in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A year on, it’s difficult for companies to justify poor customer service or employee support now as being ‘due to the pandemic’.Customers and employees feel that enough time has passed for businesses to have made adjustments to working practices to ensure that, despite the unusual circumstances, it is now ‘business as usual’.
With it looking more and more likely that some degree of remote working will continue to be a reality for many businesses for some time to come, we reached out to our network to ask – what could you do to make sure that working from home is effective, safe and affordable?
Everyone had a lot to say on the matter so this is part 1 -you can read part 2 here.
Staying connected, whatever the location
Bryan Davis – Connect IT
It’s looking like working from home is here to stay for longer than anticipated, but some of the wear and tear is definitely beginning to show. Mums, dads and kids are all at home, focused on their separate tasks,and fighting for the broadband.
1. Employers have a duty to ensure that their employees can continue to represent the company in a professional manner
Some employees were given laptops, but did all employers check broadband speeds? A new router could be the difference between someone who can’t use video for calls and someone who can.
2. Guidance on prioritising ‘digital traffic’ can be beneficial
Turning off emails during video calls can ensure that maximum bandwidth is focusing on the job in hand rather than systems running in the background.
3. Employers should consider longer term flexible working is telephone systems
It might be convenient now to divert calls to personal mobiles, but it won’t seem so convenient when all your contacts have a permanent, direct line to your employees … even after they potentially leave the business. Having a phone which can be disabled under your control also pays dividends if that same system can monitor sentiment and productivity.
The key takeaway is that ‘making do’ isn’t necessary when phone systems that bring multiple benefits can be put in place from under £10 a month.
Automating workflows to avoid errors
Sarah Bowden – Bowden Digitec
Are you looking for a way to reduce email bloat, save postage and also overcome the difficulties of remote working across departments?
1. Get rid of sending, sharing and filing paper copies
Optical Character Recognition,or OCR, is a technology that enables you to convert different types of documents, such as scanned paper documents, PDF files or images captured by a digital camera, into editable and searchable data.
2. An intelligent solution is one that it is capable of not only capturing, but also actioning
A document can be scanned, identified as an invoice and subsequently not only filed but sent to the finance department to action, with copies sent to other team members for information. Reminders can be set automatically so payments aren’t missed.
3. Automation can provide a way to replace natural employee interaction
When you’ve transitioned to remote departments, this type of automation can help to overcome the potential to drop the ball that would be normally picked up by the human interaction that usually takes place while you’re making tea or passing through a department – ‘hey, did you get the Acme invoice?’.
Bringing in levels of automation will not only improve efficiency and give your team more time to focus on customer service, but it’ll also help to attract a younger workforce that is looking for a modern environment.
Remote recruiting tips
Phil Rummery – PDR Recruitment
1. Regardless of seniority, almost all first interviews are taking place over Zoom or Teams
The recruitment process has changed now that it is becoming common place for so much ‘personal’ interaction to take place in a digital medium. And while we all know we can see people’s faces, it somehow doesn’t yet feel like an entirely satisfactory replacement for an in-person interview.
2. Recruitment timescales are getting longer
Because of concerns about the loss of the opportunity for‘gut-feel’, and despite the fact that our applicants are already ‘quality checked’ by our own processes, many of our clients have added in additional interview stages where they can put in some further testing and assessment.
3. Finding alternative ways to draw out personality and aptitude
Companies are developing more obtuse and exploratory questioning so that they can see more of an applicant’s personality and traits. The process may also have been extended so that more current staff can be involved, and to contribute to a collective opinion, as well as to create more opportunities to identify any potential weaknesses.
It is now commonplace for even very senior members of staff to start in a role where they have had little to no in-person contact with their direct reports or line managers. Handovers,on-boarding and settling-in processes all need to be on point to ensure that new hires, permanent or temporary, are brought up to speed quickly yet comfortably and can represent the company and themselves well.
This is part 1 - you can read part 2 here.