The pandemic has significantly altered numerous facets of everyday life, not the least of which is the work environment. At the height of quarantine and lockdown restrictions, remote work became the norm and, for many companies, this continued even after the introduction of vaccines signaled a potential return to the office.
The contact center industry is no exception—according to research we recently conducted with CCW Digital, just 12% of contact centers believe they will return to a primarily on-site model. Another 15% plan to be primarily remote.
The vast majority, however, are embracing a hybrid approach with hybrid by task the most popular model. Under this framework, agents will come into the office for certain tasks—such as training and collaboration—and work remotely for others.
Implications of the Hybrid Shift
The hybrid approach offers numerous benefits for employees, including greater flexibility, improved work/life balance, and no commute. Contact centers stand to benefit significantly as well—for example, reduced overhead expenses, increased agent productivity, and access to a wider and potentially more experienced talent pool.
In addition, the hybrid model has real potential to mitigate agent attrition. Contact centers typically experience turnover rates ranging from 17% to 44%, making staffing one of the biggest challenges and largest costs companies face. As the shift to hybrid accelerates, it will be interesting to see how these attrition rates decrease and also whether companies have better luck finding and hiring new agents.
Technology Driving More Interesting Work
The introduction of new tools may help contact centers realize the latter goal. As companies invest in AI, automation, and other emerging trends, there will be increased opportunities for agents to focus on more value-oriented and fulfilling work. For example, according to our recent research within the next three years:
- 15% of companies believe AI will be the preference for transactions and simple support issues.
- 25% believe AI will be used for both simple and moderate support issues.
- And another 25% believe AI will be the preference for all support issues.
In light of these factors, contact centers must modernize their workflows and ensure they have the correct framework in place to support agents in this new contact center environment while simultaneously ensuring customer experience expectations are met.
Take a look at this recent CCW report for more on this and other trends that are converging to shape the future of the contact center workforce.