Creating a Working Remotely Policy for Customer Success
Technology has created an environment where working remotely from home (or your favorite coffee shop) is becoming more the norm. According to the United States Census Bureau's 2018 Commuting Characteristics, 5.3% of US workers "worked at home", which is 2.3 million more than 2010. The trending growth rate and recent events ensures most company's, and by extension Customer Success departments, will need to establish policies around working from home sooner, rather than later. This framework will help any customer leader build their own policies in the most effective manner.
Have a command of your company's rules. Most organizations have a "stance" on working remotely but are light on the details, typically leaving the details to managerial discretion. Before doing anything, make sure you're aligned with Human Resources and the executive team on what the company position is. You'll either find yourself needing to think through building a case for remote work or feeling empowered to implement your own procedures. Regardless, company perception is key to avoid favoritism or roguish mischaracterizations. Checking this box first avoids that pitfall.
Know exactly what it will take for your remote staff to do their jobs. Jot down the tools and systems you "think" they need then ask your team for feedback to ensure you didn't overlook anything. Approach your IT department for simplified documentation to access your VPN or other secure network access. Depending on your teams, you may need to think through how inbound calls are routed and phone-trees get managed. Don't forget that some staff may need phones or laptops assigned and that not everyone may have access to high-speed internet. Leverage IT and HR to make sure company materials assigned are done so per your organization's policy, you're given the opportunity to capture all staff requirements to activate their remote workstations.
Document and publicly declare your team policy. This is the most critical step because it establishes precedent, how trust is built, and lost in this area. Unless company policy dictates otherwise, remind your team working from home is a privilege not a right. Stress your expectation is there is no dropoff in productivity, and everyone remains accountable to their key objectives. Educate them when remote work is granted, how often it may be used, and scenarios that restrict or remove it. Review your guidelines and documentation with a few trusted peers or members of your team, then present it to your group in a meeting. Be prepared for questions. Hold firm to your policy while being attentive to situations or needs you may have overlooked and require addressing. Publish your policy in your team share drive or knowledge base immediately following the presentation, and ensure your team knows it's there.
Manage and adhere to your own dictum. Find the balance between giving your team the space and trust they need to perform well while giving yourself assurance they're doing what's expected. Trust, but verify by sending a quick "good morning!" note to remote workers when beginning your day and inquire how they're doing. Use this opportunity to ensure they have the tools they're required to active (ex: email, phone, IM) and remind them to turn them on and adjust their public settings (ex: "Busy", "Away", "At Lunch", etc.) if necessary. Observe their behavior and outputs and discuss performance openly in one on ones. Consistency in your approach will be critical to ensuring success for everyone involved.
The most important factor anyone implementing a working remotely policy is it's aligned with the company's values and objectives, your team has all the tools necessary to do its job, and the expectations are known and managed to equitably throughout. Leveraging this framework will start you on the path to building an equitable employee and customer-centric organization. Your team, company, and customers will help you refine the details to the point where it becomes a differentiator and growth driver for your company.