Do the benefits of having agents work from home outweigh cons?
In 2020, WFH contact centres became the industry default due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is this a sustainable model for the post-COVID world? Do the benefits of having agents work from home outweigh cons such as the risk of employee disengagement, difficulty in maintaining productivity, challenges in KPI monitoring, connectivity issues, and infrastructure bottlenecks?
Research suggests that the answer is a definitive YES.
In a survey of 5000+ employees including CX professionals, Gartner found that WFH was overwhelmingly popular among managers and agents alike. 81% of customer service leaders believe that 30-80% of their workforce will be WFH by 2022. 70% of agents find WFH convenient and are eager to continue the model even after the pandemic. This is due to the following benefits:
This is a major advantage for new business and contact centres, as they can set up a fully functional support service without having to rent office space or purchase expensive equipment.
A WFH workforce means that you can hire from any imaginable region without the hassles of relocation or immigration. If you have a large customer base from a different linguistic background, you can hire agents with native language capabilities.
Agents no longer have to spend time on commutes, and non-productive activities like water cooler meetings, informal chats, etc. This frees up their time to allocate in a more flexible manner.
This could vary from one contact centre to another or between different teams, but home offices often provide a distraction-free environment that is more conducive for productivity.
They don’t have to put in a requisition for new equipment and wait for several days or even weeks. A WFH allowance allows agents to quickly purchase and start using new technology at their convenience.
WFH makes it easier to scale during peak periods, as you can access a much larger remote talent pool. Once you have selected the agents, they can immediately start working without any commute.
When agents are happy with their work environment (they can balance their home responsibilities, they are using their preferred equipment, etc.), it will reflect in their attitude and service quality. As a result, customers are likely to receive better service, driving up your CSAT score.
Follow-the-sun entails that you have contact centre agents available round the clock by hiring agents at opposite ends of the globe. This becomes much easier when they are working from home, eliminating the need to select and set up two independent and faraway contact centres.
Turnover is a major issue for nearly every contact centre – WFH could improve working environments, giving agents one less reason to quit.
Finally, WFH gives you the resilience and agility to withstand crisis/disaster scenarios and continue to provide uninterrupted service in challenging conditions.