The New Normal Of Telecommuting

Whether self-quarantined or due to a shelter-in-place or company mandate, many of us within the corporate sector have found ourselves relocated from on-site environments to full-time telecommuting.

While the hope is that this will be short term and the threat of the Coronavirus will subside quickly, our current situation is definitely different from the occasional day or two working from home that some previously enjoyed.  Yet with planning, we can make the best of our circumstance and continue to work, collaborate and contribute from this new workplace norm.

NEC is a globally recognized provider of award-winning communications and collaboration solutions and services that enable a remote workforce.  We have gathered recommendations for work-from-home best practices from our customers and our own team members with personal experience.  We hope that the following will help in adjusting and perhaps even provide a couple of suggestions not previously considered.

Choose Your Workspace Wisely

If possible, pick a quiet location away from any major home activity where family members tend to gather, ideally with a door to limit noise and lessen distractions and interruptions.  Explain or even put up a sign when the door is closed to limit disruptions.

Follow A Normal Schedule

Before starting to answer email or sitting down at your work area, follow whatever routine you would normally do before leaving for the office – such as shower, dress, have coffee – then sit down and begin  your workday.

Explain Your Situation

This is especially important when younger family members are home or if the kitchen or dining room table is the only feasible workspace so things aren’t moved and equipment isn’t played with.

Make Things Pleasurable

Even if temporary, make your workspace your own with family photos, flowers and favorite tchotchkes.

You will find them comforting to look at especially when thinking, regrouping or taking a screen break.  Consider turning on office-appropriate music.  It helps to mask the background “home noise” and lowers your stress level.

Don’t Forget Furry Companions

Place their bed and toys nearby so they have a place to go instead of being underfoot because they will want to be with you and this will make them more manageable.  If you have any concern about potential noise from your pet while on phone calls, mute yourself and unmute when the time comes to speak.  For dog owners: if walks are possible, this is something to consider to minimize workday interruptions.

Think Ergonomic

Not everyone will have easy access to a suitable office chair.  So pick the most appropriate one available to ensure all day comfort.  Have a quality headset handy for making and being on calls as well as controlling ambient noise and keeping voice quality clear.

Share Daily Schedules

Be sure to communicate your agenda regularly, including planned meetings, intended breaks and general availability.  This will minimize potential interruptions.  It will also help younger family members by letting them know and look forward to when they can have your full attention.

Stay Organized

Try to replicate your office space at home, placing everything frequently needed within easy reach.  Jot down key priorities – whiteboarding is great for this – and rollover any unfinished items to the next day to ensure nothing gets missed or overlooked.

Take Regular Breaks

Eat lunch somewhere other than your work area.  During the workday, if you find you are sitting too long at your work area, set a timer as a reminder to get up and move.  If there are no constraints to being outdoors, schedule time for a short walk.  It will do wonders to reset the day by re-energizing you, and fresh air and sunlight are known to improve immunity.

Know Your Technology

Take the time to learn the tools available to you, taking tutorials when necessary to get up-to-speed or re-familiarize yourself with functions and capabilities so you are prepared. Take a bit of time to practice using tools with colleagues too.

Think When Conferencing

A webcam provides a window into your home.  Check what is behind you before every call, removing anything deemed too personal or visually distracting.  Lessen background noise by putting yourself on mute when not speaking.  Also, act as if you are in the office.  So no drinking, eating or multitasking.  Remember you are totally visible.

Don’t Be Tempted

Dress for the office – at least from the waist up – so you are always ready for those unexpected and ‘just can’t wait’ conference calls.

And lastly … secure company assets

Be sure company equipment and any printed documents remain safe and secured at all times. Your company trusts you to act responsibly. Should an incident occur, follow your organization’s protocol immediately.

NEC is committed to the welfare of our customers, our employees and their families and our business partners.  If we can assist you in anyway during this unprecedented time or if your organization would like more information on telecommuting solutions or services, let NEC be your resource.

Contact Us Today

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Fill out the form, and we will get back with you.

Changing the Game for Contact Center Technology

As the manager of sales engineer and operations for NEC Corporation of America, I have seen numerous changes in contact center technology, but one thing was the same – technology drove the solutions – until now. We have moved to an environment that is significantly more consumer driven, and those needs drive the solution. What makes this most interesting from the standpoint of contact center technology is that the technology is moving beyond the contact center and into the rest of the organization.

According to Carmela Fairchild, contact center technology expert at dvsAnalytics, workforce optimization is being used in financial areas such as credit collections, for higher education and in hospitality. In all these cases, the uses are beyond a traditional call-center environment. Organizations realized that the amount of data that can be accumulated in the call center could be used to assess customer experience, responsiveness and overall effectiveness of many other departments. For example, a reseller of automotive parts with more than 1,400 locations throughout the United States and Canada realized that call center technology would empower it to record all the phone calls to its small locations, providing actionable data.

#Customer engagement is a metric that is here to stay, particularly as consumers become more sophisticated w/ tech Click To Tweet

We see a similar trend with our customers, and find that there is increasing interest in deploying contact center technology for uses outside the traditional center.

“I used to spend most of my time speaking with contact center executives, but now I spend 90% or more speaking to CIOs and CFOs who realize the power of this solution and how it can positively impact their business,” said Mary Irwin, solutions architect for NEC Corporation of America. “Organizations realize that data can be retrieved via this technology, and that they can provide better customer engagement by routing calls so they are answered, rather than going to voice mail.”

Irwin went on to say, “Tracking the entire organization has become important so they can ensure the right information is given to the right people to do their jobs more effectively. It’s more about solving a business problem rather than tracking call times or other metrics.”

Organizations are focused more on customer engagement than ever before, with an eye to self-service as well as getting answers to questions quickly and efficiently.

“Customer satisfaction has become more important, so in addition to self-service to provide convenience, organizations are now realizing they must get customers to the right person, no matter the cost. Otherwise, they run the risk of losing that customer, which costs them more in the long run,” said Irwin.

Customer engagement is a metric that is here to stay, particularly as consumers become more sophisticated in their technology use and also increase their expectations. So what else is in store for contact center technology?

The Future is About…

“Even with all the best technology and self-service capabilities, I believe that voice will become the de facto standard for escalation.  When consumers cannot get what they need by other methods, speaking with a live expert is the next logical step.  However, I do see it improving via the use of speech analytics,” said Fairchild.

One trend we all agree on is that contact center technology will start to include gamification. Reasons include:

  • Agent retention and motivation
  • Competitive differentiation
  • Improve operational efficiencies

According to Gartner research, by the end of 2015, more than 40% of the top companies will be using gamification to transform their business operations.   Therefore, workforce optimization solutions will need to provide the framework to support the trend.

Multiple media, sometimes called multi-channel or omni-channel, will expand significantly in the years ahead. Virtual queuing, or what we used to identify as “callback,” will become the rule as opposed to the exception. Companies are learning that virtual queuing can vastly improve their first call resolution while keeping customers happy.

For more information on how contact center technology can support your operational initiatives as well as future needs, visit our recorded webinar series where you can learn more about NEC’s latest contact center innovations, why they are so important and which are appropriate for your organization.