Transcript EP07

Flexibility Isn’t Just for Yoga: Why Contact Center Agents are Demanding Remote Work

Episode 7

Vanessa Gates 00:13

Hey everyone, welcome back to Masters of support. I am your host, Vanessa Gates and today with me, I have my lovely fellow Playvoxer and CMO here at Playvox, Michelle Randall. Welcome Michelle, it is so great to have you here with me today.

Michelle Randall 00:28

Oh, thank you so much for having me Vanessa, I’m honored to be here.

Vanessa Gates 00:32

Absolutely! So Michelle, as you know, and hopefully maybe some of our listeners know as well. One of Playvox’s core values is going to be enjoy the little things. In order for our listeners to get to know you a little bit better do you want to go ahead and share with us some of the things you enjoy doing outside of Playvox?

Michelle Randall 00:53

Oh, I would be delighted to, so I live in Colorado, so I’m so lucky. So I do all of the Colorado things, I hike, I mountain bike, I backpack, I started paddleboarding this year and when I’m not doing all of those fun things, I am usually freezing or super hot on the side of a soccer field watching both of my kids play soccer.

Vanessa Gates 01:15

So awesome I know how that is extracurricular activities. My daughter’s is in swim right now. So I’m usually in the water with her swimming. So we’ll get started immediately. Thanks for sharing all the little things you’d like to enjoy and Playvox. We will kind of pivot over to what we ​​want to talk about today and we’ll go ahead and share that with everyone. So Playvox recently conducted a research study to understand the impact of remote work and how that affects the context centers today. So we’ll be sharing a little bit about the results and kind of what are some direct quotes that these agents have said in this surveys. So we’ll go ahead and we’ll start with a quick stat. So in the survey, it said 69.8% of agents stated that their job satisfaction has increased since remote from work has happened. Michelle, you want to talk about that?

Michelle Randall 02:14

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I would love to talk about that, Vanessa. So you know, just like you and I, I mean, we’re also enjoying remote work, we work for a company Playvox is a remote first company and so it’s no surprise that almost 70% said that their job sat has increased as a result of working remotely. What’s also interesting is in addition to the agent saying, yes, I am enjoying my job more because I have the flexibility to work wherever I need to. Over half of the managers surveyed are also working five days or more poor per week, five days per week, sorry. And 84% of them are also satisfied with the number of hours they work remotely.

Vanessa Gates 03:00

Wow, that’s amazing. That’s a really large number of satisfied individuals. So Michelle, you talk about real briefly mentioned how like the managers are gauging the success. But how exactly are they doing that?

Michelle Randall 03:18

Yeah, that’s a great question. So what the data told us is the managers are conducting quarterly surveys on satisfaction and making sure that their employees are satisfied in their working conditions.

Vanessa Gates 03:32

Great, great. So why do you think these numbers are so high? Why do you think these agents in these managers are preferring to work remotely?

Michelle Randall 03:42

Well, I think it’s all of the same reasons that you and I, Vanessa, to work remotely, but the people in the survey told us the following, so I’ll just give you some quick stats. So what they said and some of the key reasons is 91% said that saving money is the biggest reason, so you know you don’t have to spend money on commuting or, you know, a whole professional wardrobe or lunches out and things like that. 70% really valued getting protected from getting sick and especially as you know, this pandemic keeps coming back and every time we think we’re done, we’re not really done. So I think that’s a really big reason. And then it really comes down to people wanting the flexibility to work and live where they want to to get their work done. So 57% saying said having the flexibility to live where they choose to live and to not have to be near an office is super attractive and so along with that, almost 80%, so 76% said they really valued that flexibility.

Vanessa Gates 04:54

Great, so they liked the flexibility, obviously we have high numbers to those that prefer to work remote. So what are these contact centers doing well?

Michelle Randall 05:05

Well, here’s what’s really promising Vanessa, is agents are reporting that their contact centers are doing a lot of things really well, especially when it comes to remote work. So, you know, that means their manager is facilitating frequent communication, team building events, and they’re creating a sense of camaraderie, including, you know, positive frequent communication with their team. You know, along with that, communication is also offering like team building events remotely. So, you know, getting really creative and having online birthday concerts or birthday celebrations, making sure that folks are receiving positive feedback on a consistent basis. And what the agents also told us is they really value the one-on-one chats with their supervisors. And some of the quotes that we actually heard and came through in the survey included things like, “well, my manager clearly lays out what the expectations they have of me for work.” Another person said they initiate effective communication through Slack and my manager gives us the freedom to get our work done and doesn’t micromanage me. So all of the things like that improve and help keep folks engaged and increases agent satisfaction.

Vanessa Gates 06:27

Great, I know here playvox, we utilize Slack every day, and I just can’t imagine how we would be able to operate successfully without it. So it’s definitely been a great tool for us. So I can only imagine how these context centers are thriving with it. So there’s always room for improvement. What are these agents telling us about how their contact center can improve?

Michelle Randall 06:52

Yeah, that’s a great point. So one of the things that’s come up, and you know, you’d expect this, it’s harder to develop deep friendships with people when you are working remotely. And others offered suggestions on how managers could improve communication and those included, you know, hey, I really want a manager to check in with me more often include daily touch points. Someone else said, you know, my previous company offered happy hours, and they made sure the remote team was included in office events as much as possible and some folks have received like gift cards for food. So if there is a happy hour or breakfast or something like that, they can enjoy that remotely. Some folks said managers need to be more available at an in person contact center. If you think about it, management is always sort of present and seen and easy to get a hold of, so folks need that ability when they’re remote as well. And then finally, they asked for more engagement and opportunities for collaboration. And if you take that a step further, I mean, we all want feedback about how we’re doing. And I think that’s what it really boils down to is using tools like you might even think about using a quality management tool, so that you’re giving agents the frequent communication that they so need, and you’re giving them the mentoring and collaboration that they want.

Vanessa Gates 08:17

It’s funny that these are direct quotes that are said in this research because we talked about this multiple times in a previous webinars, and the previous podcast episode about you know, making yourself an employer of choice and making sure that you’re keeping your agents and your managers engaged, feeling like there is a team culture, etc. So definitely, if you have not, well, you, as in our, our listeners, have not had a moment to check out some of those previous podcast episodes and ebooks and webinars, we’ll be sure to link those in the bottom of our resources. So you’ll hear a little bit more about how to get your agents engaged and kind of keep them happy so you can lower your agent attrition.

Michelle Randall 09:06

I mean, it’s maybe, yeah, I have a feeling that you’re going to ask me why it’s so important and I know you’ve done so much in our podcasts already about why keeping agents engaged is important. So I hope it’s okay Vanessa, but I’m just going to jump in and be like, here’s why it’s so important.

Vanessa Gates 09:23

So let’s go ahead.

Michelle Randall 09:27

So, um, you know, think about it, and the majority of agents are still women. And in the past, you know, between February of 2020, and January of 2022, 1.1 million women left the workforce. So that was about 63% of all jobs that were lost. So when you think about the cost of recruiting and training and agents, getting an agent to where they need to be, and ensuring that they have all the tools that they need that they’re getting feedback that they need and keeping them really engaged, it’s even more important, because the reality is, some of those folks who have left the workforce are not coming back anytime soon. So the ones that are still in the workforce, it’s really important to keep them engaged and excited about working for you.

Vanessa Gates 10:20

That is a really large number, I honestly did not know how many women actually left the workforce in 2020 through 2022. And it’s funny because I was one of those numbers and statistics and then here I am and Playvox world now.

Michelle Randall 10:35

And we’re so thrilled that we have you.

Vanessa Gates 10:38

And I’m so thrilled to be here. No, it’s, that’s a huge number that’s a really, really huge number. And just to really talk about the just two seconds real life perspective on that, I was having a evening walk yesterday with my neighbor, and she was telling me how her daughter in law was an event planner, you know, we started bonding over event planning, and how she has left that workforce. But now she’s came over as a woman to the contact center world because of the flexibility, the remote work. So it’s funny to see kind of both sides of it and see kind of like, yes, these women are transitioning out of the workforce, but just think about the women that are probably transitioning into the contact center space because of the flexibility and the remote work, so that was really eye opening.

Michelle Randall 11:28

Really interesting, yeah

Vanessa Gates 11:30

It was really eye opening and I kind of told her, I said, Hey, you know, we’re recording this podcast episode and I know that one of the things we’re talking about in there is about the women leaving the workforce. So yeah, it’s just, it’s interesting this, to hear about it, and to see it in real life. So this is really been great. We want to talk a little bit about maybe the key takeaways, you know, what did the data tell us about how many contact centers are still working remotely? You want to chat about that a little bit?

Michelle Randall 12:01

Yeah, yeah. So um, so first and foremost, I think one of the really big takeaways Vanessa is remote work is not going anywhere, anytime soon. The world has permanently changed and, you know, contact centers and and other folks, all we need to adjust to the new reality and the new expectations of folks that might work for us. So what we found in the survey is the majority of contact centers are still working remotely. So 60% are using a hybrid work model and 40%are entirely remote, which just blew me away. The other thing is not surprisingly, you know, given all the satisfaction stats we talked to at the beginning of this podcast. What we found is agents overwhelmingly want to continue working remotely. So 56%, almost 60% would consider leaving their current employer if they weren’t offered a remote action or a remote work options. So everybody, like pay attention, if you want to attract folks, that’s one way you can do it. As we talked about remote work has positively influenced job satisfaction, it also increases retention. So you know, when we opened the podcast, we talked about job satisfaction, and 41% of contact center managers say supporting remote work has has dramatically decreased resignation rates. And as we know, you know, those of us who have been in the industry for a while, retention is super, super important, and anything and everything we can do to keep the people we have really important. And then remote work is being used to attract and hire new agents so much like your friend, if you have the flexibility to work wherever you need to work, almost 50%. So 49% of managers are using remote work as an incentive to attract new agents similar to the friend that you took a walk with last night.

Vanessa Gates 14:02

Great, this is really awesome. Michelle, thank you for sharing the survey with us and sharing the stats discussing, going over them. I’m sure many of our listeners want to read more and get into details a little bit more about the survey. So where can they find the survey and learn a little bit more?

Michelle Randall 14:20

Yeah, thanks for having me, Vanessa. It’s been fun, so it’s been a lovely part of my day. So there’s a link to the survey on the page where you found this podcast and you can also find it in the resources section of our website.

Vanessa Gates 14:34

Yes, awesome. Thank you again, Michelle. Thank you to all of our listeners that are here with us today. As a reminder, don’t forget to hit subscribe so you can go ahead and be notified when our next episode is released. I want everyone to have an awesome day and always remember to be a good human. Thank you everyone, we’ll see you next time.

Michelle Randall 14:54

Thank you!