Are we at the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning? As far as Covid-19 is concerned, nobody seems entirely sure. The vaccination rollout promises an eventual release from lockdown, but scientists remain cagey about when everyday life might properly resume.
In the meantime, many of your sales and customer service staff are getting used to working from home. They may be there for a while yet, at least until a combination of the vaccine rollout and better summer weather allows for a cautious return to the office.
Even then, not every business will be forcing staff back into work full time. Social distancing rules are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, limiting the number of employees in the same space at the same time.
There’s also growing speculation that many companies will never return to pre-Covid work practices, and that some form of flexible working will become standard practice. A recent Call Centre Helper poll showed that just 7% of contact centres planned to return to the office as normal2, and ONS reported a 47% increase in demand for home working amongst call centre staff1. The data’s there to see, hybrid working, where employees spend some of the week in the office and some working from home, will become far more widespread once the pandemic ends.
The hybrid model of work
There are certainly benefits to it. According to research from Slack, most knowledge workers want a hybrid remote-office model in future. Hardly any want to return to the office full time. Those results are mirrored across sectors and industries, inferring that companies who want to attract the best talent may have to offer hybrid working as a benefit.
Even among businesses with large sales and customer service teams, the benefits of hybrid working may outweigh inevitable misgivings. Many businesses believe they can cut post-pandemic costs by reducing office estates and moving to smaller premises that only have to accommodate a proportion of a firm’s total workforce at any one time.
Put it all together, and it means remote working probably isn’t going anywhere, even after Covid. And even businesses that remain determined to return en masse to the office eventually have no real idea of when that time might be.
So, we’re trying to balance all of this, with changing consumer contact habits – increased adoption of new channels and differing contact patterns – as well as a globally reported increase in contact centre demand, with support firm ZenDesk seeing a steady 16 per cent increase in support contact requests above pre-pandemic levels3.
So instead of holding on to pre-pandemic processes, businesses might be better asking how they can adapt more effectively to the ‘normal’ of today while also preparing for whatever tomorrow might throw at them.
Or to put it simply, how do you equip your remote staff with the tools they need to work as productively away from the office as they can in it? How do you train and mentor your teams remotely? How do you continue to delight customers and drive sales when most of your team is working from home? When your workforce returns to a socially distanced office, or splits its time between the office and home, how do you maintain a consistent customer experience?
Businesses have been asking similar questions since last March, of course. But many now realise that the sticking-plaster solutions hastily implemented then are no longer enough, especially when it comes to customer contact. Communications platforms need to give employees the tools they need today, while future-proofing businesses for whatever next month, next year or even the next decade might bring.
Is cloud-first the answer?
It’s for that reason that businesses of all kinds are turning to cloud-based solutions. When your contact centre solution lives in the cloud, your agents can access it from anywhere, on any device, onboarding new starters and completing system training remotely is easier. And, with solutions like MaxContact, new features and functionality are consistently introduced as market trends and business needs change.
But there’s more to a future-proof solution than simply the convenience of cloud. It has to be highly reliable, flexible and secure, while giving you the data you need to measure performance and implement change.
MaxContact is cloud-native for that reason. You get the assurances with the combination of a fully equipped contact centre solution that fulfils all these requirements combined with a resilient uptime guarantee of 99.999% so dropouts and downtime won’t affect sales and customer service. Whilst real-time dashboards and custom reporting give managers full transparency over their teams’ efficiency, wherever they happen to be located.
reduction in training, the issue of training a workforce in the contact centre fast and easily remotely has been of major benefit
This valuable data can eventually be used to inform decision making around post-pandemic working models, giving a real insight into the benefits and challenges of remote working models based on your specific circumstances for every campaign and every call centre agent. This data becomes invaluable in a world were presenteeism in some form has been part of most of our everyday lives for the past 12 months.
Working from home has meant that the companies networks – that were once a secure perimeter – have expanded to every employee home and the plethora of devices they use. There’s now an increasing need to deploy communications solutions with network and data centre security baked in. But we go further. Granular permissions mean you can limit the data your home working teams have access to and remove restrictions at the click of a mouse on those days when they are working from the office.
In fact, MaxContact gives you that kind of agility throughout your contact centre operation. You can add and remove users in minutes, and equip new sites in just a couple of days. MaxContact lets you calculate your staffing requirements using statistical analysis so that, wherever your workforce is based, you always have the right staff with the right skills in place.
In other words, powerful contact centre solutions like MaxContact don’t just solve the temporary challenges of remote working. They equip your business for an uncertain future.
Use our powerful cloud platform to create an agile, secure and streamlined contact centre that not only adapts to the unpredictable challenges of the post-pandemic world.
- Call centre helper, 2021 predictions webinar