Written by Amanda Wodzenski, HIKE2 Principal | Guide
Digital nomads and freelancers are nothing new. In fact, according to the ADP Research Institute, which analyzed payroll data from more than 18 million workers, remote workers now represent 16% percent of the US economy.
But for traditional companies, especially in the long-standing manufacturing sector, moving an entire customer services or sales team to a remote work structure feels like a Herculean task. Their workforces tend to skew older: think Baby Boomer vs. Millennial. But as a result of COVID-19, these traditional companies are now being forced to evolve — and swiftly.
Here are some top ways traditional companies can successfully and quickly adopt a remote service model that doesn’t just work but unlocks hidden efficiencies.
1. Build Your Remote Roadmap
Your chief technology officer, human resources director and business leadership teams need to form a Remote Adoption Committee. This Committee must assess and evaluate all of the systems that can be moved to a digital workforce. Think phone systems, order entry systems, inventory systems, CRM and email.
Top questions that need to be answered before a roadmap is built include:
- What does it mean for your employees’ state of mind to be remote?
- What will be their key objections?
- What technology purchases including ERP and cloud technology systems must be adopted?
2. Test and Assess
Many companies with a mix of traditional and non-traditional workers, have already moved a portion of their workforce remote. They’ve rapidly inputted systems, employee checks and balances, and surveying. They’ll take this input to perfect their Remote Model if and when the time comes that all employees are quarantined. But will office life change indefinitely?
Take the tech industry — known for a mostly millennial workforce that work long hours in fun-filled offices. Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s head of human resources, recently told BuzzFeed News: “People who were reticent to work remotely will find that they really thrive that way. Managers who didn’t think they could manage teams that were remote will have a different perspective. I do think we won’t go back.”
3. Integrate, Adopt and Measure
Managers and reps will need to be retrained. Traditional management techniques like in-person meetings and more casual desk-side or water cooler conversations will no longer be an option.
Leverage phone calls, web-meetings, and virtual training. Great virtual employees are empowered to quickly solve problems, fulfill requests, and be proactive. Provide the tools, training, and access to information that will enable your employees to work effectively, as well as the metrics and dashboards to enable your managers to effectively manage.
4. Innovate with Video Conferencing
Google, Microsoft and other companies specializing in remote cloud-based tools are busy. Microsoft’s Teams saw a 500 percent increase in meetings, calls, and conference usage in China since the end of January.
At HIKE2, we utilize Zoom video conferencing weekly. Many of our top-tier guides work remote; that’s how we’ve been able to attract and retain a highly interdisciplinary team. For some consultants, this was a new way of doing things. We’ve learned that with technical support, consistency, and patience, this video face time has brought our team closer together, improved our culture and maintained consistency in our ability to solve complicated client problems.
As in-person meetings have effectively ended, think about ways to innovate. We’ll be doing a HIKE2 Zoom Happy Hour with our consultants next week, complete with specialty cocktail recipes in advance of the call.
The Bottom Line: “Opening Up a Whole New Set of Workforce Talent”
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed companies to shift quickly to a remote workforce. Hiring an outside consultant that specializes in change management and cloud adoption will address the many roadblocks that can make these big changes fail.
Some companies may discover that a remote customer service team works just as well — if not better than employees sitting in a cubicle-style department with an outdated ERP system.
And since the labor market is competitive for these types of positions, it may prove to business leaders that they can shift more remote work permanently, opening up a whole new set of workforce talent.