Prior to the lockdown and the resulting need for most businesses to send their people home, there was a reluctance amongst many companies to have a work-at-home (WAH) element in their customer support model.

For some, this was due to fears over security, compliance or productivity, while for others it was simply a case that they didn’t feel it was needed, or it was assumed it wouldn’t work for them.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, however, many businesses closed customer service centres and sent their people home. Regardless of any reluctance they may have had, they had to find a way to make this work in order to protect their employees and continue to deliver their support services.

But how has this forced adoption of work-at-home changed perceptions?

The quick fix becomes a long-term solution

For some businesses, and particularly those in heavily regulated industries, work-at-home may have worked when it was essential but it isn’t an option they consider integral to their model going forward. They still perceive it to be high risk, with concerns about storing and accessing personal data and the employee’s working environment.

Other businesses have seen first-hand how WAH can work for their organisation and the benefits it delivers. Even though they may have been wary, their recent experience has shown that quality remains unchanged (or, in many cases, actually improved), productivity increased, and many employees are achieving a better work/life balance.

They have seen that, with the right tools and capabilities, the perceived risks of home-based agents are significantly lower than expected. With a focus on the benefits, they now believe it to be a key element of their future strategy.

It’s not In-centre or WAH, It’s In-centre & WAH

And, while there may be an aspiration within some businesses to move their people back in-centre as quickly as possible, the reality is that things are still very uncertain. No one can say with certainty when it will be safe and appropriate to fully return to the office. Although many companies have started to bring their teams back on site, the number of cases in the population everywhere are rising again and a duty of care to keep employees safe while they’re at work is on every business.

This overriding objective to ensure the safety of employees, as well as maintain continuity of customer service, means that an element of WAH will form a crucial role in customer service delivery for the foreseeable future.

It’s safe to say that work-at-home isn’t right for everyone. It isn’t for every individual, nor is it for every business. This was the case prior to the pandemic and it will continue to be the case moving forward.

However, the general attitude to home-based working has changed dramatically. As a result, as organisations start to look to the future, we’re going to see an increasing number of businesses maintain at least an element of work-at-home within their customer service.

To find out more about how SYKES can help your business implement an effective work-at-home strategy, please get in touch.

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