A remote possibility? How to make contact centres smarter, happier and greener
Providing solutions during a crisis
The current crisis caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is posing a huge challenge to many businesses. For us in the contact center software sector, the biggest task is facilitating remote working. If the contact center has hundreds or even thousands of agents across one or more countries, you can see why it’s quite a task to equip agents to work at home.
But it’s now essential. Aside from helping businesses with the current situation, a remote contact center solution offers some game-changing benefits in the long term. So, let’s look at some of those benefits and the reasons why a flexible workforce strategy should be at the top of every contact center’s agenda.
Setting up a remote workforce is a smart choice for many organizations. The flexibility it brings will be transformative not only for your operations but also your culture and your people. Give your agents the technology to support telecommuting because remote working is about more than working from home, it’s about making work smarter and better for everyone. It’s about co-value creation and being able to leverage the option whenever and wherever environmental and global impacts require it.
One of the key advantages that’s easy to spot when considering how to plan for a remote workforce is a significant reduction in operational cost. Office footprints can scale back and accordingly, expenditure on on-site facilities can shrink.
So how can it help you be smarter about talent? Flexible work policies empower agents to work only where and when they are most productive. Telecommuting may be a nice-to-have for many people, but is essential for those who can’t work on-site. The way to reach that wealth of talent beyond your catchment area is to harness the power of remote agent technology.
Research supports the widely held view that working from home contributes to greater feelings of wellbeing and boosts performance. One study with useful implications for contact centers, published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, found that working from home helps improve performance generally, but also surprisingly “when social support from co-workers or managers was low, suggesting perhaps that distance buffers employees from the downsides of unsupportive relationships at work” (Golden et al, 2018). Other advantages that remote working can give to agents are greater job control, less intrusive monitoring, and increased status arising from mobile agents having higher levels of digital literacy, accountability and autonomy.
Mobile working can support your organization’s low-carbon strategy through the environmental benefits that telecommuting brings. The city of San Antonio, Texas, has asked businesses to authorize more flexible work schedules in a bid to reduce ozone damage in the city (The Ecologist). In The Lancet, researchers highlighted telecommuting as a key element in reducing the ecological footprint of Ottawa and improving its people’s health (The Lancet). But perhaps the most relevant example for the call center industry is the Philippines, “a country where hundreds of thousands of Filipinos work primarily from their homes employed in the Business Process Outsourcing sector as call center agents” which has introduced the Telecommuting Act (Republic Act 11165) for knowledge workers, enabling them to earn a living while saving environmental resources (The Ecologist).
The future contact centre
So there you have it, a smarter, happier, greener business enabled by innovative technology. Yes, this is nothing new in many businesses, but for the contact center, working from home will be revolutionary.
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