The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of managing sickness absence in call centres, in order to ensure the availability of enough staff for each shift.

Since the spring, social distancing regulations have meant many more employees have been absent from the workplace, either after testing positive for Coronavirus, showing symptoms like a cough or fever, or coming into contact with an infected individual.

As we move into the winter months, other seasonal viruses including influenza will also become more prevalent, putting further strain on call centre workforce management.

In this article we’ll look in more detail at the challenge faced by contact centre operators, and how MaxContact’s call centre technologies can help.

Call centres vs. influenza

Flu is a health problem for all sectors, but in a normal year it is the biggest challenge faced in terms of call centre sickness absences and workforce management.

A study published by the British Medical Journal on BMJ Open looked at sickness absences in Spain during 2018 and found the following:

  • An average sickness absence of almost 10 days in cases of infectious disease
  • Influenza is responsible for the largest number of sickness absences overall
  • Call centres and temp agency workers have the highest number of sickness absences

In addition to the above, it’s worth noting that the research did not consider sickness absences of less than four days, as they do not qualify for social security under the Spanish system.

Putting all of this together, it’s clear that call centre workers are particularly at risk from infectious diseases including influenza, with about two weeks of productivity lost per case, even in a non-pandemic year.

How to manage call centre sickness absences

Better management of contact centre sickness absence is about efficient scheduling, combined with the ability to call in additional staff at short notice if an agent is unable to work.

MaxContact True Hosted cloud call centres allow for all of this, bringing home-based call centre operators online immediately when they are needed, so you don’t even have to cover commute time when an absence is reported.

Offering this kind of flexibility can even allow individuals to work if they are feeling only slightly unwell, providing a protective safeguard for the rest of your workforce.

How remote working can help with sickness absence

There are good reasons to enable your call centre workforce to work remotely, not only because of the current restrictions regarding social distancing and COVID-secure workplaces.

Allowing individuals to work from home prevents the problem of ‘presenteeism’, when workers show up for their shift despite not feeling well, because they don’t want to take a day of sick leave or unpaid absence.

With COVID-19 circulating and influenza cases rising in the run-up to Christmas, a remote call centre workforce offers clear advantages to help limit the number of sickness absences you face during this coming winter.

To find out more about how MaxContact’s True Hosted cloud contact centre platform can enable your call agents to work remotely, contact us today.