Are you ready for the hybrid future?

18th May 2021

As remote working becomes a more permanent approach for contact centres, this gives rise to new questions and new implications for contact centre leaders.

How do we ensure that colleagues working remotely feel as included as those in the office? How can employers help colleagues to make sure they have the best possible working environment, including the equipment that they use for contact centre work? Could it be possible for advisors to work from co-working spaces, for example to handle text-based customer interactions?

The CCMA Research Director, Stephen Yap, conducted a study among a cross-section of frontline contact centre colleagues in the UK in March, reveals that a return to the office will be welcomed by many. At the same time remote working is without doubt here to stay – the vast majority of those we surveyed, including those who would prefer to be primarily office-based, wish to retain the option to work remotely from time to time and many expect to be given some say in the matter.

Majority would prefer to spend more time in the office

Only 22% of advisors would choose to work more hours at home than in the office if given the option

As restrictions ease contact centre professionals will be glad to get back to the office. Many are spending more time at home than they would ideally like. Currently 51% of advisors are spending more working hours remotely than in the office, but only 22% would actually choose to do so given the option. Six in ten (59%) would prefer to split their time equally between the office and remote locations, or be mainly office-based with some remote working.

79% of contact centre professionals would like to work in a hybrid model

The top reasons cited by advisors for working in an office are ‘‘feeling part of my team’’ and ‘socialising with colleagues’’. Whilst conducting meetings and building a relationship with your line manager are bottom of the reasons why you would spend time in the office.

Topping the wish list for homeworking spaces: natural light, privacy and quiet

Wanted: a quiet and private area with windows. As shown in Figure 4 below, ‘‘natural light’’ tops the list of desirable attributes for home-working spaces, cited by 55% of contact centre advisors as ‘‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’.

Bring-your-own-device is a reality for the contact centre workforce

Interestingly a sizeable proportion of colleagues are happy given the choice to pay for their own items, particularly when it comes to furniture. 34% would be happy to choose and pay for their own work chair and 33% their work desk.

On the other hand, when it comes to technology hardware such as desktop phone and mouse, there is a stronger preference for employers to pay.

“This research shows the need for organisations to take ownership of the employee experience in the home as well as the office to ensure consistency. However, be aware that as home environments are not consistent, then employee needs will not be consistent – you will need to engage individually with employees to understand their needs.” Richard Kenny, Senior Marketing Manager, Poly

Could handling text-based interactions from co-working spaces be viable?

76% of contact centre professionals would be interested in working from a shared location

While many contact centre professionals would prefer to be primarily office based, the vast majority wish to retain the option of working some of their hours remotely. As restrictions ease coffee shops and co-working spaces are expected to thrive.

These so-called ‘third spaces’ offer the flexibility and convenience of home with opportunities for social contact, or represent an alternative when needed for those whose home environments are not ideal for work.

There is huge interest in this among contact centre advisors – 76% of whom would be interested in working from a shared location. However, the nature of contact centre work may prohibit this – 35% said they would be interested but it would not suit their work.

Getting ready for the new remote working – key findings

1. The majority of contact centre advisors would prefer to be office-based, but four in five would like the option of working away from the office from time to time.

2. The main reasons people want to work in an office are social. As contact centre premises re-open, it will be a top priority for leaders to ensure that those working remotely and those working in the office are well connected.

3. There is strong demand among advisors to work from coworking spaces – which may be difficult with voice calls but could potentially be feasible when working on text-based channels which many advisors already handle.

4. With remote working now normalised and three-quarters of advisors expecting to have some say in where they work, there is an appetite from some colleagues to procure their own equipment for home and mobile use.

5. Employers will always have an important role in guiding staff to make the right decisions for their remote-working spaces. Areas where colleague satisfaction is lowest include headsets, desktop phones, desk and chair and broadband.

Download the report for more vital evidence to support your decisions on the future of your operating model.

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