Successful WFH strategies are based on selecting the right people
Work from Home (WFH) has been an option for contact centres for many years, but its utilisation globally has been sporadic at best, with penetration never breaking single figure percentages. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to address the challenges that have been inherent to successful deployment of WFH strategies for decades.
A report by 21st Century, released in August, found that 70% of organisations now offered WFH as a temporary solution for employees, while 18% were offering this permanently. “As the world of work continues to evolve and find its equilibrium following the pandemic, we expect that the number of organisations implementing permanent WFH strategies will continue to rise,” says Darren Arnold, COO at Merchants. “While this is a positive step towards the future of work for the country, it is important that organisations are aware that some candidates are inherently better suited to WFH than others – which means organisations need to become smarter about recruitment.”
Digital recruitment solutions, such as MyCalling powered by Merchants, ensures the right candidates are chosen for the right roles at the right time, by matching the needs of the organisation with potential talent through behavioural profiling technology. “MyCalling offers a powerful software solution that enables our partners to rapidly scale operations on-demand, increase recruitment efficiencies, decrease recruitment costs and manage future recruitment requirements,” says Arnold. “This has become infinitely more important as our partners seek the right talent for their remote working requirements, both today and into the future.”
Arnold explains that many businesses take the wrong approach when it comes to selecting candidates for their WFH strategies. These include:
1. Applying Logic without data
“Many organisations try to apply logic and assumptions to their recruitment strategies when looking for people to work remotely. If they are running a contact centre where consumers need technical assistance with their phones, for example, their hiring manager might prioritise candidates with empathy – as they feel this would assist in calming consumers when they are facing technical difficulties,” says Arnold.
However, digital recruitment tools will use the outputs and deliverables to identify the best candidate for the job – based on data rather than merely logic or bias. “In this case, it might be a candidate with strong problem-solving skills, rather than empathy,” he notes. Digital recruitment tools will assist with finding the strongest possible candidate for the job, and be able to evolve these criteria as the business changes – which is key to success in an ever-evolving business environment.
2. Applying preference criteria
Another common mistake organisations make when seeking remote workers is asking candidates: “does WFH work for you?”. Arnold explains that whether or not a candidate is keen on remote work is not an indicator of whether or not they will be successful at it.
“While you want your staff to be happy, it is important to note that preference criteria is not a measure of possible success. In my personal experience, many people who would have identified themselves as prime WFH candidates pre-COVID are now struggling with remote working. Organisations must not make assumptions about the kind of people best poised to WFH,” he says.
3. Applying infrastructure bias
For candidates to successfully work from home, especially in the contact centre space, factors like connectivity, hardware and security are crucial. However, Arnold notes that this should not be part of an organisation’s recruitment process, rather part of their employee engagement strategy.
“As we deployed thousands of agents to WFH, we realised that as an employer it was up to us to ensure our people were supported and equipped with the tools and technology necessary for them to work productively. This is why we introduced Ekhaya, our next level solution to remote working,” explains Arnold.
Meaning ‘home’, the Ekhaya office-in-a-box solution creates a high-quality, portable workspace for any home environment. Top of the range equipment, power backups, fibre connectivity, home office furniture, and security and real time collaboration tools, ensure the highest standards of business continuity and customer delivery.
“The technology and infrastructure needed to successfully WFH is absolutely important, but the heart of any successful remote working strategy is people. At Merchants, we believe that people matter, and that is why we launched the Ekhaya solution – by adding value to the lives of our people, we allow them to add value to the lives of our clients,” says Arnold.
“Successful WFH strategies do not only allow for candidates to save time and money on commuting, and spend more time at home with their loved ones; for businesses, these strategies offer multiple opportunities, such as access to a wider talent pool and possible cost savings,” says Arnold.
He explains that remote working allows businesses to open their recruitment models to pools of talent that may have been previously untouched, such as people with disabilities, new parents, or graduates without transport.
“As the world of work continues to evolve, WFH will become less of a trend and more of a necessity for organisations across sectors and industries. Through the use of our MyCalling digital recruitment platform as part of our Ekhaya solution, Merchants has had outstanding results for our business, our clients and, ultimately, their clients. The future of work is now – and Merchants is at the forefront,” concludes Arnold.