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Chatbot AbilitiesJanuary 19, 2021Written by Jacob Lucas

5 Common Remote Working Challenges (and Solving them with Chatbots)

The world once went digital.

Now, it’s going remote.

While this is an exciting time, for many line managers and HR departments it’s incredibly stressful.

There are new challenges to overcome and a huge amount of pressure to do so quickly.

A remote workforce requires different care and faces different problems to those in the office.

Failure to solve these issues impacts productivity and, as time progresses, leads to a high staff turnover.

Here, we’ll break down the source of common working from home (WFH) pains and explain how they can be solved by a chatbot. We’ve also got a video that covers this topic, along with a few examples of chatbots in action:

Accessing information is harder for remote employees

“Sharon, where’s the company handbook again?”

These types of questions took 2 seconds to answer in an office environment. Now, the question has to be typed, the recipient found within Slack or an email list and the question sent over.

Then, the employee needs to wait for HR or a colleague to stop what they were doing, open up a new window and type an answer before returning to their responsibilities.

It takes an average of 23 minutes to regain productivity after an interruption (source). Every ‘quick question’ causes a business-wide impact. The longer this goes on, the less gets done.

These simple questions are a productivity killer.

Unless you have a chatbot.

Solving employee queries is HR chatbots bread and butter. With chatbots responding in just 0.74 seconds (source), and it takes less than 3 messages to answer an employee’s question. The instant response time and ‘always on’ functionality of chatbot means they are the perfect tool for assisting remote workers.

Most importantly, they assist your staff without impacting anyone else's productivity.

Creating a chatbot that answers FAQs expands the potential of your HR department. Remote workers are no longer waiting around for a response and HR, or their team members, are spending their time on valuable activities, not just copy-pasting answers.

Side note: Remote staff are more likely to work outside of normal office hours, thus increasing their need for round the clock support. As chatbots are 24/7 by design, this is no longer an issue.

Onboarding remote staff eats up resources

Onboarding as a whole is a time-consuming task for HR and line managers. This is amplified when onboarding remote employees.

Video calls, health and safety briefings, home working checks, checking equipment, providing equipment, it all takes time.

Time managers and HR simply don’t have.

Rather than wasting resources onboarding staff, automate the process.

A chatbot can handle pretty much the entire onboarding process. From sharing health and safety videos to completing equipment checklists, it can all fit within a simple chatbot conversation.

Think you'll have to adapt all your processes to fit this new technology? Not at all. Using ubisend's platform it's incredibly easy to replicate what you have in place and reap the benefits of automation.

It’s exactly what Alex & I did in this video. We took a clients onboarding process and automated it via a chatbot, in roughly 45 minutes.

Chatbots take your current onboarding strategy and minimise the resources required.

This is without taking into account human error. Naturally, the odd question will slip someone's mind or a step will be accidentally skipped. This creates long term issues that can lead to huge problems for the business.

The uniformity chatbots provide help businesses reduce human error. Due to the step-by-step, conversational medium chatbots ensure every question is asked and the employee is onboarded exactly as required.

This applies to pretty much any task your chatbot takes on but is particularly useful when the process has legal requirements.

By automating your onboarding process, you free up resources to be spent elsewhere and maintain a level of compliance across your business.

Time-tested processes are at risk

This is an issue for employees and the business as a whole. The processes that have been developed and refined over years just got turned upside down.

In some cases, this can lead to innovative new methods. The majority of the time, it’s going to lead to chaos and confusion.

Remote staff will follow different processes to those in the office and semi-remote workers will be confused by the two sets of rules. This progresses to drops in productivity, critical admin errors and claims of unfair treatment.

So, businesses turn to HR chatbots.

With a chatbot platform, you re-create your current processes.

There are no hasty tweaks or constant ‘new expense claim process’ emails.

Simply plan out your current steps, log into your chatbot’s CMS, add each step and click save.

matching remote working processes with a chatbot

For employees, this consistency will be a welcome relief in a dispersed world. ‘Red tape’ isn’t getting in the way of them doing their job and less time is spent ‘just double checking how to do…’

For businesses, managing and updating processes become easier, admin is simplified and productivity can continue as normal.

Chatbots are the tech that keeps sanity in a stressful environment. They automate your current processes, without you feeling the need to change them.

With studies showing it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for people to truly change behaviour (source), it’s vital you don’t waste time trying to force needless changes.

Of course, it’s easy to make tweaks down the line if you do want to update a process. For the time being, when everything is changing around us, it’s nice to have some stability to rely on.

Remote workers’ pains don’t need to be said out loud

A quick conversation when getting a hot drink, a few words when walking to the car, the lunch break chit chat. Over time, these small conversations help businesses understand employee pains.

When working remotely, this process takes far, far longer.

HR needs to take proactive steps to uncover remote workers pain points and, sadly, staff surveys just don’t cut it.

Chatbots provide a window into the challenges your remote staff are facing, without the need for constantly ‘just checking in.’

An HR chatbot acts as a passive data source, constantly gathering insights. Every time a question is asked your chatbot can store this information, helping you keep a finger on the pulse of your business.

Let’s look at a real-world example:

  1. January is known as a month where staff are more likely to look for new opportunities.
  2. Your chatbot registers an increase in questions regarding the company benefits scheme increase during January.
  3. Questions regarding salary and pay also see a slight uptake.

These three points indicate that staff may be thinking about seeking new opportunities. Not only that, they signal staff are feeling under-rewarded. This valuable information isn’t accessible anywhere else.

With ubisend, you can create custom metrics to track the KPIs that matter to your business.

Want to understand remote staff’s opinions on the new HR initiative? Create a unique metric. Priorities changed? Create one that matches your new interests, it’s the flexibility modern HR requires.

Rather than leaving your remote staff to suffer in silence, make the most of the tools available to proactively tackle their pains.

It’s not just about remote working

While HR chatbots are invaluable tools for tackling remote worker challenges, it’s far from their only use.

All the points raised in this article can be applied to a chatbot that supports both remote staff and on-site workers. Plus, that’s not all your chatbot can do.

HR departments utilising a chatbot to reduce their admin workload or re-invigorate their HRMS will be able to support remote workers, without having to make too many changes.

As remote working has proven it’s here to stay, flexible tools and solutions are a must. With a chatbot platform, you have access to one of the most flexible options currently on the market.

To see everything mentioned in action, book a quick tour of ubisend. You’ll see exactly how you could solve your remote working challenges, along with a few extra bonuses.