Before 2020 came to a close, Colm Condon, a Human Resources consultant of OD&C Advisory Services, joined Kees and Josh on a podcast. He spoke about the different ways that businesses have had to adapt in order to survive, such as providing the right tools for remote agents, and how important it is for managers and supervisors to have regular contact with their staff.
Highly experienced in the industry, Colm has worked for seven multinational corporations in a variety of different sectors, over a period of 35 years. Throughout the years, one of the most important pieces that Colm learned was how important communication was not only between customer and agent but also between managers and employees. “It’s all about communication and bringing people with you. It’s about the very basic understanding of human behavior and how that influences all of the outcomes in so many different ways.”
The conversation turned towards the discussion surrounding the impact COVID-19 has had on businesses across the globe, and how the workplace has evolved to adapt to events such as this. One of the key topics of interest was remote working. “Remote working is something that’s of great interest to me.” While the ‘home office’ was a first for many, Colm had actually been involved in this for a number of years. He noted how many businesses had struggled with this concept as they believed that there would not be sufficient collaboration between remote employees. Issues such as lack of mentoring and staff development also played a pivotal role in low levels of support for remote working.
Thankfully, this mindset has radically changed for the better, particularly over the past few years. “I think the biggest piece of that change is around technology. Technology has improved so much.” Supported through the use of technological breakthroughs such as cloud computing, cooperation, and enhanced communication tools, remote working has never been easier. However, transformation and change management have still been difficult, Colm believes.
“I think that companies are slow to respond. And in particular, the major corporations, they’re slow to adapt to new models of working.”
At Spearline, we have been helping organizations to communicate effectively with their customers. Ensuring their inbound and outbound telecommunication services support connecting customers to the business, and that those connections have suitable high quality for a quality conversation. Our Customer Engagement and Support teams have seen growing interest in how best to help internal teams communicate more effectively, minimize ‘conference call fatigue’ at the end of a workday, and deliver on business goals through working together, even while apart.
Colm shared his experiences surrounding this annoyance and how call fatigue can easily ruin the experience for both callers. “Call fatigue is a serious problem. There are a number of things that can lead to call fatigue, with quality issues being amongst the biggest of all. I’ve been using conference calls for over 20 years, and the quality issues have been the main culprit that have made calls so difficult.” Colm further emphasized the need to prepare your remote agents with the best equipment, the highest quality of the call. “I’ve become really obsessed with the need for employees to have the right equipment with the best broadband, for leaders to upgrade their own tools and to communicate through this medium just to get it right.”
As evidenced by his long history with conferencing, Colm states that over 25% of participants on any call will have technical issues either with audio or video, and the need to improve this now is more important than ever before. “I think that people need to concentrate and work on the tools. I think that communication is something that this crisis has heightened for everybody.”
The responsibility to prioritize improving communication within a business, Colm believes, lies with the senior level. “I think that up to now, communication was probably secondary on the level of priorities to the things that leaders normally do, like planning and budgeting and reporting.” However, in the current climate, Colm acknowledges changes have been made.
“But I think, now with the current crisis, it’s moved to the forefront and I think we’re in a better place because of that. They need to open up as many channels of communication as they possibly can.”
For the ‘post-COVID’ workplace, Colm remains eternally positive. “We’re moving to a much more interesting, and evolving workplace.” Reflecting on how the working environment has continuously changed for the better, particularly over the past 30 years, Colm spoke about how companies are providing a better experience for employees, flexible hours for family life, opportunities such as remote working, improved involvement in decision making and greater levels of communication between departments. “I think if we get something good like this coming out of this pandemic, which has been cruel, then at least we have gotten something good coming out of it.”
To listen to the rest of Colm’s insights, be sure to check out the podcast episode ‘Episode 7: Colm Condon: Communicating with HR during a crisis’ on all your favorite podcast platforms!
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