New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown is potentially due to be lifted over the next few weeks, but many organisations are talking about making the call to keep their staff at home indefinitely for safety reasons, where feasible. For a contact centre in particular, social distancing is a challenge with tens or hundreds of agents – previously grouped closely to achieve a tight team environment!
Even when COVID-19 safety reasons go away (although we can only dream of when that happy time may come) there are declarations across the board that for a variety of reasons, home working on the wider scale is here to stay. Travel fatigue, petrol costs, environmental concerns, work-life balance, recruitment advantages and scalability are just some of the reasons that compel this view.
Another reason that was brand new to many employers, arising for the first time last month, is the link between Business Continuity and working from home. Businesses whose workers were already used to regularly (if not permanently) working from home had a much better time of it recently when it came to COVID-19 and the transition to remote work.
We have seen (via our video calls!) makeshift offices emerge in dining rooms, garages and bedrooms throughout the country. Many were up and running quickly, working over VPN or browser and communicating externally and internally via mobile and video.
But moving a contact centre operation to a home environment isn’t quick or easy, and must be carefully planned to fully reap the benefits. Businesses also need to think about issues like team management and security. Another consideration over the last few weeks has been scalability. While some organisations have downsized, there have been many who have needed to ramp up their contact centres to deal with an increased load as customers or residents seek urgent information relating to the current situation.
If your managers have had to act as reactively as most of us, it might be a good time now to sit down and review all the elements of a successful work-from-home operation, possibly under increased load. If this is the way of your future, even in the mid-term, then you need to look at ongoing recruitment, provisioning, training and management of the contact centre with a different, ‘virtual’ mind-set.
In light of many organisations having to work from home due to the current crisis, we have created an eBook checklist detailing the critical elements for an organisation to review when moving their contact centre team to a remote working environment.