How Inbound Contact Centers Are Adapting to Remote Work Trends

work from home telecommunications jobs

In the spring of 2022, consulting firm McKinsey & Company conducted a survey of 25,000 Americans to explore the rise of remote work in the United States. The group found that 58% of respondents had the opportunity to work from home (WFH) at least once per week, and a staggering 35% were able to do so all week.  

The WFH revolution has, in turn, spurred the creation of hybrid call centers. Staffed by a combination of in-house and home-based call center agents, these organizations give their teams much-needed flexibility. 

Overall, inbound contact centers have done a great job adapting to the new normal, but managing WFH agents is still a concept that presents new and unique challenges and work from home telecommunications jobs are on the rise. With that in mind, we’ve outlined some challenges facing remote call centers and composed the following list of managing remote call center tips.

Remote Call Center Statistics You Need to Know

Before proceeding straight into hybrid call center management challenges and best practices, it’s important to recap a few notable statistics, especially as the McKinsey survey is nearing two years old. The most influential question here is whether the same number of Americans from the survey are still working from home or if most employers have coaxed them back into the office. 

According to a more recent (2023) report, somewhere between 27 and 50% of American employees are said to work from home at least part of the time. Varying sample sizes and conflicting reports make it difficult to determine just how many people are still working remotely, but even the lowest figures suggest that at least one out of four Americans have the option to clock in from home. 

Nevertheless, an overwhelming 98% of workers say they want to work remotely at least some of the time, and by 2025, it’s estimated that 32.6 million Americans will have hybrid or remote work arrangements. The bottom line is that remote work is here to stay, and embracing the movement can lead to enhanced employee loyalty and satisfaction. 

On top of that, going remote means you can also access an expanded talent pool, as you won’t be limited by geographical barriers; all you need to do from there is learn how to manage home-based call center agents.

Challenges of the Call Center WFH Model

When managing home-based call center agents, you’ll encounter challenges that may include any of the following:

Reduced Access

Your remote team won’t have instance access to the same tools and resources as in-office personnel. If they encounter an IT issue, they can’t just walk down the hall and talk to tech support. Likewise, if they need to run something by you, they’ll have to rely on electronic communication methods to get in touch. 

That decreased access can make it harder to resolve customer issues efficiently, which, in turn, can lead to longer call holding times and a reduction in first-call resolution rates.

Increased Distractions

Remote workers often face more distractions than their in-office counterparts, such as noisy environments or interruptions from family members. These distractions can negatively impact the customer experience and decrease support agent efficiency.

Technical Headaches

Similar to the issues that reduced access brings about, remote workers might also experience more technical hiccups, like software malfunctions and internet connectivity issues. When they work in the office, you’ll have more control over network functionality, internet performance, and hardware uptime, but many of these variables are out of your control when managing WFH staff. 

One potential remedy is to provide remote workers with the equipment they need to perform efficiently; alternatively, you may consider offering an internet stipend to encourage them to purchase a more efficient internet service package.

Communication Challenges

Establishing clear and reliable lines of communication with your WFH agents can also pose an ongoing headache. Your remote staff might find it difficult to share information with you or their teammates; if they need to get feedback on their work, for example, soliciting that information might take longer or become more tedious overall.

Nevertheless, when supporting remote agents, it’s vital that you ensure clear lines of communication. If you haven’t already, invest in a direct messaging system and designate that as your primary communication channel for routine requests. By doing so, you can ensure that all employees know which applications and channels they need to be monitoring during work hours.

Work-From-Home Call Center Tips to Maximize Productivity

Maximizing the productivity and morale of your remote workforce can be tricky. It requires a new-school approach, as you won’t be able to rely on traditional engagement and management practices. 

First and foremost, you need a means of monitoring employee engagement and productivity; that means turning to new data sources so you can track agent performance and pinpoint weaknesses. 

Additionally, you’ll need to modernize your cybersecurity protocols to support your remote workforce. WFH call center agents are going to be accessing potentially sensitive customer information, such as payment details and addresses, so it’s vital that they are working from secure networks that offer adequate protection against cyber threats. Perhaps most important, though, is the need to empower your WFH call center agents by providing them with the right tools and training. Giving them the hardware, software, and skills they need to thrive serves the interests of your business, agents, and customers.

Become More Resilient by Leveraging WFH Agents

There is no question that the remote call center revolution poses a unique set of challenges for your business. You’ll need to adopt new management strategies, reevaluate which performance metrics you monitor, and invest in new tools. 

Nevertheless, with proper oversight, the call center WFH model can represent one of your greatest organizational strengths, not a weakness. When you embrace WFH agents and the value they can provide your organization, you’ll create a more resilient and agile hybrid call center. You’ll gain access to international talent, move beyond the constraints of the in-office model, and elevate the quality of service you provide your customers.

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