For most hotels, the shift to a virtual organization was a journey. The forced work-from-home mandate introduced many employees to the wonderful world of working in their yoga pants. Now as workers are returning to their properties and *gasp* real clothing, many properties are exploring the cost savings and the benefits of the WFH model. There are benefits for both agents and properties, but effective remote work practices must be in place in order for virtual organizations to function properly.
Keep in Touch
“Engagement is the number one point of failure in a virtual organization,” shares Alex Hinkel, Senior Reservations Manager at Vail Resorts. “You have to interact with remote agents as if they’re a person in the office, and not someone calling in to get a question answered.” Hinkel’s at-home team prioritizes virtual culture-building using everything from quick instant messages to say ‘Good morning’, to gift cards in the mail. “Find some sort of engagement platform with channels where you can do everything from share important business to post funny GIFs.”
Without the ability to drop in and chat, communication needs to be organized. “Every day, we do Brady-Bunch style stand-up meetings,” explains Angela Berkey, Corporate Director, Reservation Sales at Auberge Resorts. “We get on Google Meet and go through standards and updates.”
Invest in Technology
Poor technology overshadows great sales skills and training. “You have to make sure your technology is solid,” offers Matt Juarez, Vice President Contact Center Operations at Revinate. His team experimented with a bring-your-own-device model, but IT headaches spurred a move to thin client PCs. “If there are any issues, we quickly reboot and get that cash register back up and running again.”
Widen Your Hiring Pool
The remote model lets companies expand the pool of competitive candidates and build teams all over the globe. This shouldn’t preclude some onsite experiences though. Auberge’s Berkey believes that because “many properties are experiential in nature” remote workers should be able to visit the resort. “Take them everywhere; to the spa, dining, paddle boarding. They must experience everything the guest does [to sell it successfully].”
Boost in Productivity
Leaders noted the productivity leaps in the work-from-home model. “They’re not getting interrupted by the front office nearly as much,” suggests one manager. While fears that remote workers “are doing their nails or watching TV on company time” are unfounded, managers should still focus on where agents spend their time.
Others suggested the use of web-based time-management systems and periodic comparison to login and logout times.
“The best thing about technology,” offers Revinate’s Courtney Witherspoon, Sr. Solutions Strategist. “You can track how much time agents spend on calls or in project mode and address it.”