Homeworking is here to stay say top UK contact centres.
Throughout lockdown, business leaders have debated the tricky issue of how best to engage and support their people while working from home.
However, according to a major new industry survey “The 2021 Contact Centre People Engagement Survey”, 81% of Agents/Advisers – and 56% of Directors/Managers – say that people engagement in their contact centres is not a problem.
322 UK Contact Centre Directors, Managers, Agents and Advisers took part in the online study conducted by trade bodies the South West Contact Centre Forum and Call North West.
Survey responses were collected between January 11th and March 12th 2021 and participants came from a broad range of contact centres from different industries. Separate detailed questionnaires were run for Directors/Managers and Agents/Advisers. The survey was supported by homeworking specialist Sensée.
The “2021 Contact Centre People Engagement Survey” provides valuable insight into the current state of people engagement within the contact centre industry – at a time when the predominant workplace is the home office.
70% of Agents/Advisers responding to the survey say that they mainly worked in bricks and mortar contact centres prior to lockdown and have now switched to mainly working from home… and the majority feel that the switch has gone well.
Despite media headlines suggesting organisations have struggled to manage their colleagues in a work-from-home setting, most Contact Centre Advisers say that their Managers have adapted well to the switch: 57% say Very Well and 29% say Well.
And there’s more good news when it comes to the current state of ‘manager–employee’ and ‘team’ engagement.
85% of Agents/Advisers Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “Communication between senior leaders and employees in my organisation is good“…. with 83% of Directors and Managers concurring.
In a similar vein, 94% of Agents/Advisers, and 99% of Directors and Managers, Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “My manager/contact centre team and I have a good working relationship”. Virtually nobody disagreed.
Concerns over the impact of employee isolation on mental health while people are working-from-home have frequently been aired over the last 12 months.
However our survey reveals that Agents/Advisers are generally happy with the efforts their employers are making at supporting their needs. When asked “Do you think your organisation adequately addresses the mental health & well-being concerns of its employees?”, 73% of Agents/Advisers say yes and only 8% say no.
The survey also revealed the breadth of measures employers were taking to address concerns. When Directors/Managers were asked “How do you monitor health & well-being within your teams?”
36% cite Formal Questionnaires, 29% Video Checks and 40% Occupational Health reports. But the most common approach is simply to talk. 89% of Directors/Managers cite Informal Conversations to discuss Health & Well Being concerns and 71% Formal Conversations.
Finally, our survey reveals a growing recognition amongst employees of the role that their employer plays in broader society.
90% of Agents/Advisers Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “My organisation has taken steps to ensure that it acts as a responsible member of society” as did almost all Directors/Managers (i.e. 99%)
Likewise, 96% of Directors/Managers Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “My organisation is dedicated to diversity and inclusiveness”, together with 91% of Agents/Advisers.
And the Future?
Perhaps not surprisingly, work-from-home is expected to continue to play a significant role in the contact centre industry for the foreseeable future.
Only 43% of Agents/Advisers believe they will be 100% returning to the office. 57% therefore believe they will be homeworking, with the majority of those splitting their time between their home and the office.
Intriguingly, when asked what percentage of their adviser population would be working from home in 2022, 60% of Directors/Managers say that they expect 50% or more to be working full or part time at home, with just 4% predicting a full return to the office.
“It’s great to report that colleagues in the contact centre industry feel so overwhelmingly positive towards people engagement issues – especially after the last 12 months” said Jane Thomas, Managing Director of the South West Contact Centre Forum and Call North West.
“Our survey shows that progress is being made in key areas such as mental health support, building team cohesion and running ethical, inclusive and socially-responsible business. However, while organisations can take credit for these achievements, the job is far from complete.”
“The survey results are extremely interesting, particularly as they counter many of the negative perceptions about people engagement in the age of ‘forced’ homeworking,” said Mark Walton, CEO, Sensée.
“Moving forward, the challenge will not be so much about making homeworking work – organisations have had a year to do that – it will be about defining long-term strategies. Who will work from the office and who will work from home? How will we manage, communicate, schedule, train our ‘hybrid’ workforces?”
“What new technology platforms will we need? We maybe entering an era of extreme uncertainly but there’s never been a better time to take a step back and make meaningful changes to modernise and transform UK business.”
To view the “The 2021 Contact Centre People Engagement Survey” eBook, click here.