- Brainstorming with remote agents presents a unique challenge for contact centers.
- Being adequately prepared for the session and communicating the expectations of meeting participants are essential steps to a successful brainstorming session.
- Digital tools from RingCentral can facilitate successful brainstorming sessions with remote agents.
Brainstorming sessions once involved getting team members into a conference room, discussing ideas, and jotting down notes on a whiteboard to help everyone visualize the ideas being bandied about and keep track of the best ideas for further exploration.
That format worked well when all your agents worked in a centralized location, but now, you might have a large percentage of agents working remotely. While remote work became widely adopted as a way to deal with the recent pandemic, contact centers will continue to accommodate this type of work going forward. According to a September 2020 JD Power survey, 86% of customer service businesses plan to allow a more flexible work model long after the health crisis has subsided.
That means that your brainstorming sessions must now involve remote agents as well as in-house ones. You need the right technology to help facilitate brainstorming sessions and ensure everyone’s ideas are given the same weight, including those who are participating virtually. Digital technology will also help remote participants visualize everything that’s happening during the session just as clearly as those who are on site.
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Here are some tips for conducting a brainstorming session with remote agents, along with some information about why you should not neglect brainstorming sessions just because you have remote agents.
Brainstorming is important for a variety of reasons. It:
- Allows agents to think more freely.
- Encourages open dialogue and collaboration to resolve issues and generate useful ideas.
- Helps teams come up with great ideas quickly, which can later be filtered and refined until the ideal solution is reached.
Consider the following tips to ensure a successful and productive brainstorming session, no matter where your agents are.
Implement the right technology
A fruitful brainstorming session with remote workers is nearly impossible without the right technology in place.
For starters, all remote workers should be fully equipped with the tools that allow them to participate in video conferencing. Everyone should see what’s being written down and hear what everyone else’s ideas are. That all starts with digital technology that facilitates meetings with both on-site and remote participants.
These video conferences should also include a digital whiteboard that will enhance the video meeting experience. RingCentral’s Whiteboard, for instance, is a large digital drawing board that mimics the traditional whiteboards used in physical meetings, except via video.
Every participant in the meeting, including those who are participating remotely, can write and draw on the whiteboard for all to see, allowing remote and hybrid teams to collaborate effectively.
This tool also has the ability to add arrows, shapes, and highlights to areas of emphasis. It allows users to add sticky notes to jot down thoughts for later reference and quickly find what they’re looking for by scrolling on the minimap.
When the meeting is over, you can save your finished board as an image and share it with all team members.
Plan your brainstorming session well in advance
Being thoroughly prepared for your brainstorming session is key. Sessions that are not adequately planned will easily become chaotic.
Start off by communicating with all participants beforehand and make sure to share what everyone’s role will be so that the goal of the meeting is reached. Share any instructions with participants, if you have any, to ensure that the meeting doesn’t wind up more disorderly than harmonious, which is always a possibility when multiple people shout out ideas simultaneously.
Let all participants know what the expectations and goals are at least a few days in advance of the session to help everyone prepare accordingly.
Encourage individual thoughts
Groupthink can easily take over a brainstorming session. Quieter voices may be suppressed, while the louder voices may get more air time. The idea behind a brainstorming session is to encourage all participants to have their ideas heard, but that may not happen when the stronger voices become too overpowering.
Before the meeting begins, communicate to all participants that all voices are encouraged, including the quieter ones who have ideas that are just as valuable as others. Consider asking remote participants to raise their virtual hands to be acknowledged by a moderator rather than allowing a free-for-all dialog.
Provide feedback on ideas
After everyone has had a chance to express their ideas, encourage them to assess all ideas that have been jotted on the board and give their opinions on which ones stand out and may contribute to achieving the common goal. Essentially, you’ll be conducting somewhat of a voting session so that everyone has a voice in terms of choosing which ideas are best in their opinion.
RingCentral’s Whiteboard is just one of the ways that we’re helping contact centers simplify communications for hybrid work and remote agents. Digital tools are of paramount importance for today’s businesses, and it’s nearly impossible to be successful and support effective operations without them.
Check out Whiteboard and all the other innovative digital cloud-based tools offered by RingCentral to see how they can enhance your organization’s operations today. Call and speak with a representative to request your free demo.
Originally published Sep 08, 2022, updated Nov 03, 2023