Call Center Agents: Time to Get Back to the Office?

Call center agents

As you are aware, most call centers transitioned to working from home (WFH) due to the current pandemic while a few continued to work in the regular brick-and-mortar format.

Now as the dust settles and more people being vaccinated, call centers are gradually transitioning back into the office; for several reasons, the most prevalent is that businesses can collaborate and serve customers better.

But are agents ready to come back into the office? You may say that some of my agents miss the interaction with their colleagues, or they want things to go back to some normal. And yet I press on by restating the question, are your agents ready to return to the office?

Most agents I’ve heard from say that they are comfortable working from home, fewer chances of catching the coronavirus, save money on gas and time commuting to work, save on money spent on meals. In contrast, others feel a sense of unfairness as they believe that a transition is a form of micromanagement or a power play, where their autonomy is being traded for a paycheck to keep the lights on.

I’ve also heard that the very thought of returning to the office makes some agents shake with fear. Some have chosen to leave their current employer for those offering permanent WFH. Some agents with children prefer the WFH option since they save on child care, aren’t sure about child care available, or don’t trust the options available to them.

These are all valid points, and if your call center is moving back to working from the office, these are a few tips that may help:

  • Make the transition gradual with plenty of communication. In the communication, remind agents to make arrangements for the transition. You could ask some agents to volunteer working from the office.
  • Listen to your agents, are they comfortable transitioning back to the office, determine how they feel, and address them individually if they have any fears or challenges—empathize with agents who may find this move a challenge.
  • Set up protocols within the office to ensure your staff’s safety and make them known to everyone such as encouraging vaccinations, having vaccinations on-site, cleaning down surfaces and so on.
  • Make your employee assistance program (EAP) available to agents, and list how they can assist during your conversations such as finding care for an elderly parent or child.
  • Chances are that morale could take a dip as agents may be reluctant about the change. Try having a few team-building events to engage your team.

These changes take time and need to be dealt with active listening and empathy. In this way call centers will be able to retain engaged, high performing call center agents.

About the Author

Mark Pereira is a Trainer and On-Site Supervisor at Briljent LLC. He is a Certified Professional Trainer (CPT), Certified Customer Service Professional (CCSP), Corporate Trainer Certified (CTC), and Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT). Mark is a learning leader who applies what he learns to continuously add value to his team while also implementing proven teaching methods to improve retention while taking calls, effective coaching, engaging agents for increased productivity, and leading with empathy. Mark has a bachelor’s degree in Commerce (BCcom), and currently resides in Indianapolis.

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