3 Tips to Help Your Support Team Thrive Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Some markets are starting to get ready for an upcoming (and progressive) return to the workplace. After several weeks of adapting to a new and uncertain situation, working from home and creating new routines… How can you now prepare your team for the comeback?

First and most importantly, always follow your country’s guidelines regarding businesses’ re-openings! 

Many experts are already warning organizations to take it easy with the workforce, lower expectations, and prioritize the human aspect over performance. It’s a new situation for all organizations worldwide, and there’s certainly not one correct way of coming back to the “old ways”. 

Take your time to plan the details for a safe re-opening, and involve your team in the process.

We’ve gathered the 3 tips that will help you through the planning to get your team ready for the comeback. 

#1. Social distanced desks and breaks 

It’s important to take into account that the office won’t look the same as it did when we last were there. There are some changes that need to be introduced in order to guarantee everyone’s wellbeing, but this shouldn’t compromise keeping the office vibe you had before COVID-19.

For most companies, for instance, a progressive comeback involves dividing the team in shifts so that not everyone is in the office at the same time. This way, each employee has more space for their own instead of sharing desks with the rest of the department. 

Remember that social distancing it’s also important in the office!

This also applies to meetings, regardless if they are internal or with clients. For this, video calls are still your best friends. You’ve probably got used to having remote meetings, so this could even help your team feel more at ease during the transition. 

For your customer support team, which is often an across-departments collaborative role, it might be a good initiative to create frameworks that ensure easy inter-team collaboration and accountability. 

At the end of the day, whether some parts of the team are in different locations or different shifts, solving customer problems should be made as seamless as possible. Therefore, while all safety precautions are being taken, it’s important to focus on those processes that might be affected by the current situation.

Not all changes come together at once!

What happens with leisure breaks?

Lunchtime, coffee breaks, and sporadic snacking also need to be taken seriously. Depending on what fits your company best, there is some margin within which you can operate in this regard. 

For example, dividing your working team into smaller shifts for lunch can be a good idea, to avoid everyone being in the same place at once. For the coffee machine, instead, there are some other options, which can go from sanitizing before use, disinfecting after or removing it temporarily. 

Finally, you might also want to consider removing unnecessary pieces of furniture to reduce the risk of infection. For instance, certain doors’ handles, cupboards’ doors or, overall, closing the meeting rooms until further notice. 

Safety is the priority now.

#2. Communicate openly and fluently

The more you communicate about the whole process, the more reliable it is for your employees. You need the cooperation of your team to involve everyone in a safe and efficient comeback. 

Keep in mind that it’s a progressive re-opening, which means that your team will need time to adapt to being back again with new measures. 

No matter if you’re still working remotely, preparing to go back, or already in the office, communication should always be a constant in your internal channels. Your employees rely on you to make the right decisions in this regard, and they won’t know what’s on your mind unless you tell them. 

For instance, you can use your corporate email to send the government’s updates regarding the lockdown, to make sure you all have the latest news about it. Moreover, you can also use this channel to inform them about the next steps for the company

Although the email is usually the most official channel to communicate organizational information, other channels with a more informal angle can be a great addition to your communication flow. The internal messenger is a useful tool to enable quick questions that might occur during the process and are easily replied over this channel. 

Furthermore, take into account that your front line customer support agents are the face of the company. During this new normal, it’s more necessary than ever for them to have a uniform and consistent message that they can stick to when interacting with customers

 Check on your employees regularly

As well as communicating about the ongoing changes and processes, it’s important to do regular checks on your team to know their situation. You can still keep your team together in the distance!

You can still host your one-on-ones remotely to catch up with your employees, which is also a great incentive for their individual motivation working from home. And to work on the entire team’s engagement and office spirit, a great idea is to invite them to group meetings on a regular basis. 

This way, your employees are still in touch despite this “new normal”, and it brings some space for a more relaxed interaction between them. Apart from this, group meetings are also effective when it comes to sharing information that is relevant to all of them. 

By addressing the questions and issues regularly, and with your entire team at a time, you avoid misunderstandings among your staff regarding this uncertain situation. 

This is especially relevant for your support agents since your customers’ behavior must have changed – they might feel more frustrated, less patient, have more questions than usual, etc. All these changes can end up affecting your support team if they don’t have the right tools and messages to work with.

That’s why it’s more important than ever before to check in on employees, find the ones struggling to adjust to the new normal and bring an element of fun and gamification, so agents don’t feel isolated in their experience.

#3. Save time to work on your culture

No matter where you are working from, there should always be some time to work on your company culture!

The good news is that it can be as easy as you want it to be; the important part here is that everyone in the team is involved. 

For instance, a trick to boost your employees’ energy throughout the day is hosting a 5/10 minutes meeting altogether, not work-related! Organize it as a check-in in the morning to start the day, or at lunchtime so that you can “share” the break. Another idea that your team might appreciate is meeting late in the afternoon to have a drink together and finish the day. 

Ask your team for ideas to engage them with the culture, and make it fun to work together from home!

Keep in mind that this time the priority is not performance, but having your employees back on track with the best energy and motivation. 

If hosting meetings doesn’t sound like a good fit for your team, you can also cheer them up through your internal communication channel. Send them inspirational quotes throughout the day, remember them how great they are doing or simply make some jokes to boost their mood when they most need it. 

Every organization is different, so adapt the initiatives to your own culture and tradition. The more personalized you make it, the more engagement you’ll get from your workforce!

There are certain tools that can help you easily improve your employees’ engagement at work. For instance, Plecto is a data visualization software based on dashboards that display your team’s performance and KPIs – it includes unique gamification options to celebrate your employees’ achievements (work-related or not!) and raise the energy at work! The best part? You can easily integrate Plecto with Freshdesk!

Freshdesk’s integration with Plecto allows you to get the most complete and updated overview of your support channels, and gather your most important KPIs in one place. Increase your team’s motivation by helping them visualize their performance, both individually and per department, and stay on top of your objectives.