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Make remote working a success for employees and customers

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has sent countless workplaces online and entire workforces are now acclimated to a world of long-term remote working. The new workplace, aka the home office, kitchen, etc. has prompted many business leaders to shift to an employee-first mindset and find new ways to ensure their workforce stays engaged and productive, as well as supported and fulfilled. 

The need is critical: According to the Anatomy of Work Index of 2021, 71% of workers experienced burn-out in 2020, yet the remote work environment will largely not change in the coming year. The process can start with a few simple questions. 

1. Do your people feel supported? Do you have a feedback loop to know that answer? 

2. Are they collaborating effectively internally and externally? 

3. Do they have the tools to do their jobs effectively? 

The goal is to have all answers be a most assuredly “yes” – but it’s not as easy as setting up more zoom calls and delivering team or individual shout-outs. Today’s employees know more and expect more than ever before. Societal changes include a greater understanding of social psychology and team dynamics. In addition, the universal adoption of technology such as mobile devices and voice-controlled assistants has led to dramatically changing expectations of employees. People now expect to use systems at work that are comparable to those that they regularly use in their lives as consumers.

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Factor all of this in on top of the pandemic – and many businesses have recognized they need to make major long-term changes to support their workforce and update the technologies they use. What strategies can you apply? What technology can you leverage? We’ve listed a few below. 

1. Foster a culture of support and recognition

This past year we’ve seen a variety of new challenges with the nature of remote working – pandemic anxiety, home school obligations, lifestyle upheaval. It’s never been more important to do regular check-ins with your employees and their well-being–and offer some help and support as needed. This can include flexible hours, required personal days, free workshops, and exercise programs. This should not be exclusive to the pandemic – make it an ongoing practice for the near and long-term.

In addition, when not working in person, you miss a big piece of celebrating big wins and acknowledging day-to-day contributions. It’s even more important now in a remote world, to create an engaged workforce by setting achievement milestones and establishing opportunities for growth and promotions. Regularly recognize both individuals and groups within the organization to institute a pattern of positive feedback. Keep in mind, however, that employees may have different preferences for being recognized: For some, a handwritten note might be more appreciated than being put on a slide deck during an all-hands meeting. Whatever the method, let your employees know they are valued—and reap the benefits of a more motivated, committed workforce.

2. Build collaboration into your business processes

In these truly unprecedented times, collaboration is more important than ever before. Not only must teams reconsider how to work together without in-person meetings but they also must forge new ways of working with customers, suppliers, and with colleagues in other functions across the business.  Companies that can most effectively collaborate, share, and communicate internally and with customers and partners will have the advantage. One of the often-repeated points of COVID-19 is that, once this is all over, things will not return to the way they were before. It may be tough to see the silver linings yet, but among them will undoubtedly be learning to work together in a more collaborative way.

3. Empower employees with tools that enable sharing in real-time 

Document sharing, real-time status updates, social tools built-in: Today many organizations are turning to digital collaborative platforms that serve as a secure, central hub for various teams or departments – empowering them to work smarter and adapt in the face of adversity. The right community workspaces allow you to break down communication barriers and deliver deeper, real-time visibility into every aspect of your role. Community workspaces are often used for teams, but can also be extended to customers, partners, and more and when done right, the benefits will be boundless. Here’s a glimpse at what can be achieved. 

Comprehensive visibility: In a collaborative workspace, all stakeholders can have all customer and project-related information at their fingertips – specific to their role and team. jThat can include things like project activities, resources, plans, risks, budgets, and costs. Everyone gets real-time access to the information needed to make the right decisions at the right time, and managers can more easily evaluate the contributions and commitments of all parties involved – customers, partners, and contractors.

Team engagement: A community solution provides a platform to deliver and facilitate a healthy “one team” ethos, creating a culture of collaboration, cooperation sharing, open engagement, and innovation. For many, these are often the ingredients for higher levels of job satisfaction, personal motivation, and productivity – all of which benefit both your organization and customer experience. 

Quality of delivery: An engagement hub helps any department stay in control of project management, quality of delivery, and, ultimately, customer satisfaction. The right community will make it easy to launch project-related queries, investigate issues, and speed up resolution. It can allow for things such as timely entry and access of project, billing, and expense information. It can also minimize the risk of problems such as transactional errors and revenue leakage. 

Customer engagement: Employee experience equals customer experience, and that customer experience has never been more critical. We live in a customer-led economy, where renewals are a major revenue driver and indicator of company success. A collaborative platform will empower your teams to deliver high levels of service, have swift answers to customer questions, and provide real-time project and financial information, ultimately creating employee satisfaction as well. 

Service-centric organizations using collaborative communities experience: 

53% + increased customer retention 

40% + increased sales 

40% + increased the speed of delivery

Remote working and distributed teams is the new norm and having the right strategies and technology will be key to making it work for the near and long-term. To dive deeper into the world of effective collaboration download this 2021 ebook: COLLABORATE: for service and finance that works together.

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