On Nov, 13 2020
There’s no question that the past year has changed the way both contact centers and their agents approach work. Simply put, cramming a large number of agents into a small space just isn’t feasible anymore. Some contact centers are having to re-think their staffing strategies from the ground up to meet the requirements of their workforce.
Here are a few reasons why for many businesses the cubicle farm is dying, why it won’t be coming back, and why leveraging the right workforce management (WFM) solutions may mean this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Agents are becoming used to (and usually enjoying) remote work – Outside of specific scenarios, agents generally prefer the ability to work remotely. They spend less time commuting and have more freedom to do their work the way they want to. Most agents don’t want management watching their every move from across the room. Shifting back to this style of working under constant surveillance can be difficult for companies that need to retain agents, especially with more competition from other contact centers that have dove headfirst into building remote teams.
More remote contact centers are seeing the positives of split shifts – The benefits for remote contact center work isn’t all about agent morale. One of the ways leading contact centers have changed the way they work to improve efficiently is by relying more on split shifts to meet demand. With a cubicle or open office work environment, split shifts are tough to pull off. For example, if your contact volume spikes in the early morning and evening, you would need agents to essentially commute to the office twice in one day for a split shift. Not a lot of agents are willing to do this, but with split shifts for remote teams the commuting hurdle is a non-factor. Agents can easily clock in from their remote location as needed to pick up the hours your team demands to meet the expected volume.
Mobile WFM solutions enable fast remote staffing – Leveraging a remote contact center team is great for meeting expected demands. But what about when volume spikes unexpectedly? Maybe your Marketing team didn’t let you know about a promotion in time, or it’s performing better than expected. When this happens, companies are turning to workforce management software with a mobile solution to contact agents immediately to let them know there is a shift available. Best of all, the software can be configured to automatically exclude agents who would be over their hours cap for the week when asking for agents to pick up a shift. And, instead of needing to get ready and drive into the office to begin work, agents can log in remotely and help right away to tackle the spike in volume.
Contact centers are turning remote training into an online education library – In an office environment, managers would huddle agents around cubicles and conduct training sessions. Or they would book a conference room and spend an hour training on a new process. If an agent missed the training, a manager would have to take the time to train them individually. Or a manger would need to have multiple training sessions on the same topic with different agents so at least some agents were available to solve customer issues. With remote teams, however, the training process is much more refined. Managers hold a single training session via conference call with a screen share and record the session. After the call, they can easily upload the training session to an online portal for agents who missed the live training and also for new agents to view when they are hired on. Turning remote training sessions into an online education library can make a difference in the productivity of all team members.
In short, the cubicle farm is dying because both agents and contact centers have seen the positive impacts of remote work. Although in-office benefits like face-to-face conversations are missed, it’s hard to deny the uptick remote work has on agent happiness and the ability for contact centers to react to both predicted and unexpected contact volume spikes.