While many team members enjoy working from home, it can also create additional stress. The pressure to instantly answer email from fellow employees, the energy drain of back-to -back video calls and the lack of positive, informal interactions with colleagues can be difficult.
Here are three quick ideas to help reduce work-from-home stress levels:
1) Set a "Service Level Agreement" regarding internal communication within your contact center:
Most contact centers have expectations regarding customer service level, average speed of answer, etc. However, does your contact center have a “service level” for employee-to-employee emails and voicemails?
Otherwise, Work-from-Home (WFH) employees feel pressure to respond instantly to every email because they are always at their computer. How do you set an Internal Service Level?
First, decide on communication channels for urgent versus non-urgent communication. For instance, Team Leaders should call their Manager for an urgent issue, while emails are used for less urgent communication.
As a next step, determine an appropriate speed of answer for each communication method. For instance, internal emails should be returned within four business hours.
Creating an Internal Service Level will reduce the stress of having to instantly respond to every email from a colleague.
2) Do NOT make every meeting a Zoom call:
Is videoconferencing more stressful than an in-person meeting?
Think about it this way: during an in-person meeting, attention is focused on the presenter. Everyone else in the room can relax since the spotlight is not on them. In a video call, your face is constantly on screen.
You are aware that everyone else can see you. This takes more energy. It is one of the reasons people feel drained after a day of video calls. Reduce the amount of video calls.
So, Managers, Team Leaders, Quality Assurance Coaches and Workforce staff have the time and energy to handle other parts of their job. To accomplish this, many companies have instituted times when video calls are not allowed.
For example, they have “Zoom free Fridays” where people can focus on projects, analysis, and reports. Or they opt for old fashioned phone calls occasionally, rather than expect every conversation to be on video.
This can reduce stress levels for your WFH team members.
3) Provide context when emailing and instant messaging your team:
When people were onsite, they had casual interactions around the lunchroom or while waiting for an elevator.
A quick, “How was your weekend?” or a smile from the boss would reassure them everything was fine.
However, WFH team members do not do casual interactions anymore.
As a result, they may start parsing every interaction for hidden meaning. They may assume the worst from an email.
So, if their Manager writes, “We need to talk. Give me a call” they may think, “Oh no, this can’t be good!” Misunderstandings grow in a WFH vacuum.
Counteract that by providing context in your emails and instant messages. For example, “We need to talk” should be, “We need to talk about an item for tomorrow’s team huddle.”
That extra context helps WFH employees avoid misunderstandings and additional stress.
Setting an Internal Service Level expectation for your contact center, having “Zoom free” times and providing context in internal communications can reduce stress for your work-from-home team members.
Mike Aoki is the President of Reflective Keynotes Inc., a training company that helps contact centers improve their sales and customer retention results. A contact center expert, Mike serves on the advisory council of the Greater Toronto Area Contact Center Association and was Master of Ceremonies for five of their Annual Conferences. He was also chosen by ICMI.com as one of the “Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leaders on Twitter” for the past four years.