Here’s an alarming statistic: More than half (56%) of contact center agents say they’d think about leaving their jobs if they couldn’t work remotely.
Our 2022 research study of contact center agents and managers revealed a big conflict between these groups: Despite most agents’ appetite for remote work, almost half of contact centers plan to bring employees back to the office this year.
You’ve worked hard to build a team of great agents, who have grown used to a remote or hybrid environment — and they’re not ready to give it up yet. If you want to keep your team, you need to explore ways to continue remote work. We’ve got four reasons you should give it a try.
1. Remote Agents Have More Job Satisfaction
Eighty-seven percent (87%) of agents in our study say their job satisfaction has greatly or somewhat increased with remote work.
Agents cite a variety of reasons for preferring remote work, but by far the most popular reason cited is saving money: 91% say they appreciate not paying for transportation, eating meals out, or buying suitable office attire. Seventy-six (76%) say they like having more control over their time.
Lindsey J., an agent at a pharmaceutical company who works remotely the entire work week, shares that she is more productive because she’s no longer spending time commuting to an office. She also finds working at home to be less stressful. “I never want to go back to an office,” she adds.
2. Offering Remote Work Helps You Retain Your Agents
In our study, 41% of managers told us giving agents the ability to work remotely has greatly or somewhat reduced their resignation rates.
The Great Resignation has hit nearly every industry hard, but the reasons employees give for leaving aren’t as insurmountable as you might think. The Pew Research Center shares that 48% of employees who quit in 2021 left because of child care issues, 45% because of the lack of flexibility, and 35% because they wanted to relocate.
Agents in our study felt even stronger about flexibility. Seventy-six (76%) cite having more control over their time as an important benefit of remote work, while 57% value the flexibility to move to another location.
Related Article: The Great Resignation: How to Retain Your Contact Center Agents
3. Remote Work is a Powerful Recruitment Tool
In the past year, 49% of managers in our study have offered prospective agents the ability to work remotely. When you’re battling against low unemployment rates and labor shortages, it’s a smart approach.
You’re not alone if hiring is tough right now. TechTarget shares that 35% of customer experience leaders say that they have trouble finding agents with the necessary skills. If you’re struggling to find the right agents for your contact center, offering a remote or hybrid work environment will let you expand your pool of candidates to include those who live outside your area.
4. New Approaches can Keep You Connected to Your Team
Remote work isn’t without its challenges for you as a contact center leader. But your agents need you to put in the effort so they can stay engaged.
Agents in our study report their contact centers are doing several things well when it comes to remote work. Offering creative team-building events, such as online concerts or birthday celebrations, receives positive, enthusiastic feedback from employees. Agents value daily one-on-one chats with their supervisors as well. They also shared other positive feedback:
- “They clearly lay out expectations for work.”
- “They initiate effective communication via Slack.”
- “My manager gives us the freedom to get our work done and doesn’t micromanage.”
- “They offer the option to work remotely and are flexible with the shifts worked from home.”
- “They do a good job with engaging employees and offering training.”
But there’s also room for improvement, according to agents — especially when it comes to communication. Suggestions we heard from agents on how managers could improve include:
- “Our manager needs to check in with us more often, including daily touch points.”
- “My previous company offered happy hours and made sure the remote team was included in office events as much as possible. They even sent remote workers gift cards for food.”
- “Managers need to be more available. At an in-person contact center, management is much easier to get hold of.”
- “Offer more engagement and opportunities for collaboration.”
To avoid these pitfalls and keep your team connected, take a strategic approach that includes the right policies, plans, and technologies.
First, make sure you have a solid remote work policy in place — 42% of the companies in our study don’t have one. Your policy should include any requirements you have around:
- The performance standards agents must meet when working remotely
- The work environment required, including appropriate space, equipment, noise levels, and internet access
- The minimum distance from the office to be considered fully remote
- The number of days per week, month, or quarter agents must come into the office, if any
Next, make sure you have the proper solutions in place to make managing, training, and motivating your agents easier on you — and on them. Support center managers told us they used collaboration and video conferencing software like Slack and Zoom last year to improve communication.
When it comes to training, agents in our study ranked being paired with another CSR as the top way they wanted to learn. On the other hand, managers ranked instructor-led learning as their preferred way for their team to learn.
While there’s room for both these techniques, a remote contact center team can also benefit from online learning. Multimedia learning lets new agents learn the ropes and helps experienced agents improve their skills anytime — wherever they are. Look for a solution that lets you track agents’ training progress and customize learning paths for each agent based on their needs.
To keep everyone engaged, many of the same methods of motivating agents that work when agents are in the office are still effective when they’re working outside it. But agents have a clear favorite: When we asked agents about their preferences for motivational techniques, they ranked the option to work remotely right at the top.
Related Article: 5 Ways Contact Center Managers are Adapting to Remote Work
Give Agents What They Want
There’s no mistaking it — agents really don’t want to come back to the office. So it’s time to take action — offering the opportunity to work remotely will help you keep your team happy and help you bring on new agents. With the right technology and practices in place, remote work can work for everyone on your contact center team.
Learn more about how agents feel about remote work — and how other contact center leaders are handling it — in our brand-new, free eBook, The Contact Center Conflict: Remote Work vs. Return to the Office.