COVID-19 has taken its toll on society, the individual, the economy and likely on your contact center. As we see the pace of reopening slowing, it is becoming clear that this coronavirus is not going to be a short-term hit — it is going to change the way we operate and manage our businesses and specifically our contact centers. As a result of the pandemic, your organization has likely deployed agents to work from home (WFH). Based on The Taylor Reach Group’s research of the COVID-19 impact on contact centers released in June, 87% of centers have remote agents, up from 15% before the pandemic.
So, what can you do today to help your center recover from COVID-19? Here are 11 areas to consider when creating a remote work strategy for your contact center.
What to consider before bringing employees back into call centers
We expect work from home to be with us for the foreseeable future. Until we achieve herd immunity or develop a treatment or vaccine, we should expect to employ physical distancing in our contact centers. If we look at our contact centers, we typically see rows of workstations set up back-to-back with narrow aisles between them.
Managing effective physical distancing in this environment is challenging. Most contact center workstations are four feet wide, though some are five feet or even six feet across. This means that you often can’t have a person in any adjacent workstation without violating the six-foot rule of social distancing. In typical row layout with four- or five-foot workstations, each agent is surrounded by five empty workstations in their row and will likely have three empty workstations on the row their back faces to ensure a minimum of six feet of distance.
When we do the math, this equates to 30% to 35% of the contact center seats being usable (depending upon your layout, your actual mileage may vary). But without any other calculation, we can quickly see why WFH is going to be a part of many contact centers’ future for some time to come.
Of course, operating your physical center with social distancing will present other challenges, including training rooms and conference rooms. Many offices will become unusable for meetings, lunch and break rooms, washrooms, locker rooms, smoking areas and even the parking lot will all be affected, too. At the end of the day, if you can run your bricks-and-mortar center at 30% of capacity, you are likely doing well.
About the author
Colin Taylor is the CEO of The Taylor Reach Group. Ever since answering his first customer call more than 40 years ago, Taylor has blazed a trail of innovation and success through the Customer Interaction industry, spending almost 20 years in the BPO space before launching Taylor Reach in 2003. Taylor has assisted many Fortune 500 and global brands to improve their customer-facing organizations. Today more than 50,000 agent positions globally operate by employing Taylor Reach-designed contact centers and operational models. Recognized as one of the leading contact/call center pioneers and experts, Taylor has received 30 awards for excellence in contact center management on two continents. Acknowledged as a leader and influencer on the topics or call/contact centers, customer service and customer experience in published rankings on Huffington Post, Call Centre Helper, ICMI and MindShift. Taylor is an author and frequent speaker on customer service, customer experience, call/contact centers, operational innovation, CRM, sales and team building.