Contact centers successfully shifted to remote work during the pandemic and agents quickly adjusted to this flexible work arrangement. How will agents respond, though, as more companies bring employees back to the office?
A recent survey from Playvox asked agents about their desire to return to the office, the benefits of flexible work arrangements and how they'll respond if their company no longer supports remote work. Playvox asked contact center managers about the likelihood of bringing agents back to the office, the flexible work policies they have in place and the tools managers use to support remote employees.
Of the 60 percent of survey participants who said they still work from home, 56 percent said they might leave their jobs if they couldn't work remotely. Looking at the benefits of remote work cited by survey participants, it's easy to see why the option is so popular:
- A whopping 91 percent said working remotely helps them save money on transportation, dining out and their office attire
- More than three-quarters said they value the flexibility and control of their schedule that remote work affords
- 70 percent said working remotely helps them stay healthy and avoid illness
- Another 70 percent of respondents said their job happiness has greatly increased due to remote work
At the same time, one of the biggest reasons for supporting flexible work is its benefit to the business. More than 40 percent of managers said the ability to work remotely has greatly or somewhat reduced agent resignation rates. Given that contact centers can have higher employee turnover rates – up to 38 percent at large customer support centers – working remotely is an incentive managers can use to encourage agents to stay.
"Agents want flexibility in where they work for many of the same reasons that other people want to work from home," said Michelle Randall, Playvox's chief marketing officer. "In addition to having more control of their time, agents cited health and financial reasons for wanting to make remote work a permanent option. Plus, when you factor in lower resignation rates and higher job satisfaction, flexible work becomes a win-win for agents and contact centers alike."
Despite the benefits of remote work, 45 percent of managers in the Playvox survey said they'll bring their agents back to the office at some point during 2022. This decision could put contact centers and agents at odds and undo some of the positive strides made in retention. Among the feedback agents provided:
- Half said they wouldn't work for a company that didn't have a remote option
- More than half said they'd be extremely or very likely to leave their current job if their employer didn't support remote work
- Nearly 70 percent said they don't want to return to the office at any point
Contact centers may be hesitant to support a remote work option if they lack an official policy. Only one-third of survey respondents said their organization has a protocol in place for remote work. These policies are critical for specifying remote work criteria such as meeting performance standards and having a dedicated and quiet workspace with internet access.
Along with a company policy, having the right tools is critical to a successful remote work experience. In the past year, 54 percent of managers said they deployed video conferencing software and 27 percent said they implemented collaboration tools to support remote agents. In addition, 55 percent of managers said they implemented Workforce Management or Quality Management software to help remote agents maintain performance standards
"The research identified the critical role that Quality Management and Workforce Management solutions play in a successful remote or hybrid work environment. The initial shift to remote work was overwhelmingly positive. Contact centers worldwide embraced flexible arrangements and leveraged technology to enhance the agent experience," said Randall. "The survey results show that agents prefer to work this way and make the case for contact centers to permanently support a flexible work arrangement. As more organizations adopt this approach for the long-term, progress can be made toward reversing the resignation rates that have long been associated with the contact center industry."
The research was an online study of Playvox customers and non-customers. The survey was conducted March 10-15, 2022 and included 374 responses from contact center managers and agents in the U.S. and Canada. Participants represented a range of contact center sizes and most service B2B or B2C customers.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Playvox's workforce engagement management (WEM) solutions transform customer care. We deeply understand that exceptional employee engagement produces extraordinary customer experiences, and we love creating tools that help our customers unlock the full potential in every employee and every interaction. Playvox powers the world's fastest-growing brands. Welcome to the digital era of WEM
Published: Friday, September 2, 2022
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