April 1, 2021

Procedures & Tips to Move Your Call Center Back Into The Office

What happens when you are told to come up with the policy plan to safely get your call center back onsite in your brick and mortar facility? 

This week,  we take a look at our personal case study of how we are planning on bringing back 250 associates safety in-house for a financial services’ client that need a secure brick and mortar facility to operate.

We talk about procedures for coming to work, traffic flow, distancing, getting nuanced with break times, and having a safety coordinator for each shift.

If you are planning to have your call center back onsite, this article will hopefully add a lot of value to your planning.

A lot of you are thinking about the transition back to brick and mortar for your call center. Over the last five months we have been going through an RFP process with a very large client for us. They are a financial services client, so security is of upmost importance to both us and them. Getting back to having agents physically in our facility and protected with our security is a process that we are learning about. As of now, about 95% of our workforce is work-from-home. We want to continue with a hybrid model and keep the people who want/deserve the privilege of working from home to stay at home. However, financial services clients are more comfortable with an on-site workforce. Once the Covid numbers are down and the vaccine gets rolling, that is when we’ll start to make our realistic plans.

As I said, we like having a hybrid workforce in case a catastrophe like this happens again. We are now able to seamlessly transition our workforce to be at home again. Clients that are not sale-oriented, no credit cards, no social security numbers, and no proprietary systems can keep their agents at home because mostly they are working with basic customer service.

But this client is a different animal. This new client is a 250-seat opportunity. Obviously, we would not have 250 seats operating on-site at all times, but we will staff accordingly for peak times. We did just obtain a 30,000 square foot facility that can hold 250 agents, 175 with social distancing measures. Here are the policies and procedures that we are following to help bring our agents back on-site

  • Safety Coordinator

First, we hired safety managers that are separate from our regular call center managers. Someone whose only job is to make sure every agent is following the policies we are putting in place. The safety coordinator will also be in charge of a disinfecting schedule, and targeting those high traffic areas, and making sure they are cleaned more often.

  • Masks Requirement

This one is obvious but still bodes mentioning. We will be handing out disposable masks at the office, as well as Expivia branded masks. Our employees can wear one if they did not bring their own.

  • Traffic Flow

Our new building is one floor, 30,000 square feet, with six entrances. Every agent is assigned the door closest to their station, and are to use that door exclusively when entering and exiting the building to avoid overcrowding. The doors are color-coded and we have thermal cameras to check temperatures upon entry. Every agent is to wash their hands immediately coming into the building, and wipe their stations with Clorox wipes at the beginning and end of every shift.

The safety of the employees trumps the efficiency of an occupancy number at this point. We need to make sure the workplace is safe, our clients are happy, and our agents can make an income as well.

  • Scheduling Breaks

Normally our agents have two 10-minute breaks that they can use at any point in the day. Now we are working harder to schedule breaks to limit the number of people taking breaks at the same time. Unless someone had a really bad call and needs a minute to catch their breath, we would rather try to organize break times. We are also learning who is a smoker and who is not, to figure out who would rather be outside versus inside.

  • Employee Engagement

I believe in a call center culture of community, friendship, mutual help, and respect. So, forcing teammates to stay separate and discouraging traveling to another part of the center to see a friend during a break is very difficult for me, and of course, is even more difficult for the agents. But again, the most important thing is keeping the employees safe, and unfortunately, this is what we have to do to do that. This will hopefully just be short term.

  • Social Distancing

We have dots on the floor, spacing agents in every other station, spacing outbreak rooms, and removing couches (which sucks.) We still use Slack as our main communication tool, so even if a supervisor and their rep are in the same office, a quick message can be sent that way instead of talking face to face.

These policies are not ideal, but they are the best way to keep the office safe, clean, and Covid-free. This program will not be starting for another month, so I am sure some things will change as we get accustomed to in-office work and protocols. I will update you as it happens.

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Want more call center operations content? Head over to our weekly call center operations podcast "Advice from a Call Center Geek!"

Advice from a Call Center Geek is a weekly podcast with a focus on all things call center and contact center. We discuss topics such as call center operations, hiring, culture, technology, and training and have fun doing it! #callcenter #contactcenter #CX #custserv #callcentergeek

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