This article details the results of the most recent QATC quarterly survey on critical quality assurance and training topics. About 50 contact center professionals representing a wide variety of operations provided insight regarding the staff working at home and in the office.
The largest number of participants is from call center operations with more than 500 agents. However, the balance is widely dispersed across all ranges. This mix of respondents provides a broad spectrum of call center sizes. Financial, healthcare, insurance, and “other” have the largest representation but there are participants from a wide variety of industries.
Distribution of Staff Prior to the Pandemic
Respondents were asked what percentage of their staff was working at home prior to March 2020 (the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic). Over half responded that they had less than 25% and another 20% indicated “other” which is interpreted as 0% given the options available in the survey.
Distribution of Staff at the Height of the Pandemic
Respondents were asked what percentage of their staff was working at home at the height of the pandemic. Over 86% indicated that more than 75% of the staff was working at home then. This was a major shift and it was accomplished with amazing speed and efficiency overall.
Percentage of Staff Working at Home Today
Respondents were asked what percentage of the staff is working at home today (at the time of the survey in early 2022). More than three-fourths of the respondents indicated that they still have more than 75% of their staff working at home. However, the percentage with between 50 and 74% at home has risen from 4% to over 13% suggesting that some operations are proceeding with partial return to the office.
Work at Home Target
Survey participants were asked what their target percentage is for staff working at home at least part-time as the “new normal.” Over 55% indicated that their goal is to keep 75 to 100% of their staff working at home at least part of the time. In addition, more than 25% indicated that they will shoot for 50-74% at home. This indicates a substantial shift from the pre-pandemic model when only about 18% had staff working at home.
Respondents were asked what criteria will be used to determine whether staff work in the center or at home. Job function was chosen by nearly one-third with “other criteria” than those listed chosen by 29%. Key performance indicators and volunteers were selected by about 18% each.
Work Location of the Respondent
Respondents were asked whether they personally were working in the office at the time of the survey. Over two-thirds (69%) indicated that they were not in the office at this time.
Over 60% indicated that they do not plan to return to the office in the future. Only 17% indicated that they plan to work either full or part-time in the office in the future but another 21% are not sure where they will be working.
Hardest Part of Keeping Agents Engaged
Respondents were asked what the hardest part has been of keeping agents engaged and productive. The following are some of the most common responses:
- Technology issues and distractions at home
- Keeping company culture alive with no face-to-face contact
- Finding effective incentives
- Connecting individuals to the team
- Lack of willingness to ask questions and get help when needed
Most Successful Way to Keep Agents Engaged
Respondents were asked what the most successful ways have been to keep agents engaged and productive. The following are some of the most common responses:
- Video meetings
- Surprise gift cards and swag gifts
- Making time for social interactions separate from work discussions
- Daily check-ins
- In-home games such as scavenger hunts, costume contests, virtual craft hours, etc.
- Individual virtual meetings along with small groups and whole department gatherings
This survey provides insight into the changes from in-house to at-home staffing. There is a definite shift to embracing the at-home model by both the staff and the companies who employ them. Finding ways to engage these personnel and ensure they feel part of a larger team and remain productive will take some adjustments to the way centers have managed in the past.
We hope you will complete the next survey, which will be available online soon.