The pandemic has brought about a significant shift in the way we work, with remote and hybrid models gaining immense popularity, says Nathan Stearns.

In fact, managers in the UK believe working from home will continue as more and more startups benefit from a remote workforce.

While hybrid and remote working models have several advantages for both employers and employees, they also pose some unique challenges for workforce management (WFM). To ensure effective engagement and efficient scheduling of employees who are not working on site full-time, businesses can adopt the following seven best practices that provide strong customer service:

Remain consistent when employees work remotely

Consistency is non-negotiable when it comes to offering robust customer service, particularly if employees work remotely. This means that processes should remain unchanged, just as they would in a traditional brick-and-mortar contact centre. Leaders must therefore still implement critical WFM solutions as well as tools from the planning team to organise and schedule their workforce.

Also, it is essential for employees to have a clear understanding of business priorities, and companies must continue to track their progress against set goals. It is worth noting that with remote working becoming more prevalent, businesses’ customer service KPIs may need to be adjusted accordingly. Nonetheless, maintaining consistency is a prerequisite for any remote and hybrid contact centres to operate smoothly and efficiently.

Promote open lines of communication

Facilitating interactions between teammates guarantees that workflows run smoothly, and it becomes even more critical when employees are working from home. Since catching up with colleagues over a coffee break or seeking advice from managers in person isn’t possible when teams aren’t together in the office, organisations must provide their employees with the necessary tools and resources to converse effectively. Instant messaging platforms are an excellent way to promote quick and easy discussions between remote workers. They also offer innovative and fun ways to formally recognise outstanding work for everyone to see and read. After all, formal and informal praise can go a long way in making employees feel seen and respected which contributes to happier and committed workforce.

Forecast well in advance

To maintain business continuity during periods of disruption, such as severe weather conditions, companies should regularly reassess their staffing needs. WFM solutions that are flexible, able to adapt to changing customer demands and built from past experiences to improve future forecasts are crucial for businesses to stay competitive.

In this way, companies guarantee that their teams are prepared to meet the needs of customers in any challenging situation.

Make informed long-term planning workforce decisions

Scenario planning is a crucial tool for leaders to create a resilient and flexible workforce. With the help of AI forecasting, scenario planning solutions provide valuable insights that enable leaders to make informed decisions and accurate predictions.

It allows leaders to adjust staffing levels and schedules accordingly, making sure they have the right people in the right place at the right time. With this level of preparedness, businesses can weather any storm and continue to deliver exceptional customer service, no matter what obstacles come their way.

Emphasise team flexibility

As hybrid and remote working are still gaining momentum, it’s key to acknowledge the importance of scheduling flexibility. However, achieving a certain level of flexibility requires a mindset that embraces change and adaptability, as well as practical tools and policies to support it.

For instance, implementing block and split-shift scheduling, availability points and seat limits can be helpful in this regard. These measures enable employees to work at their own pace while ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency.

Allow employees to manage their own schedules and performance

It is important for businesses to offer their employees the flexibility to manage their schedules in a way that suits their personal lives as it not only promotes autonomy but also leads to better performance management. An intelligent automation system can help achieve this, allowing employees to map out their schedules with pre-approval capabilities. Businesses thus ensure that changes benefit net staffing and that time is accurately tracked for HR systems. Moreover, communications tailored to specific audience types encourage employees to self-improve without needing face-to-face contact with HR managers or colleagues.

Implement intraday tools to respond to changing conditions in real time

For supervisors to lead their teams efficiently and keep them on top of changing conditions, they need intuitive intraday change management tools. Consistency in processes and policies is key, and all teams should work towards common goals, regardless of where they are located. A reliable WFM solution will monitor all channels and provide transparency into service levels and performance for optimal results.

The emergence of remote and hybrid work has revolutionised the way colleagues interact. With increased flexibility, companies can now offer their staff unparalleled benefits while also enjoying reduced real estate costs, lower labour expenses, improved employee retention rates and compliance with local or national regulations.

In a digital age where a hybrid workforce is increasingly the norm, companies should adopt these seven recommended customer services practices to drive engagement, accurately forecast and schedule, and increase success for their teams and the business overall.


Nathan Stearns is Vice President, Product Management, WEM at NICE.