For many businesses Work At Home (WAH) has long been seen as nothing more than a business continuity measure – a way to keep delivering in the event that the office or contact centre became temporarily unavailable.
But, over the past 12 months, those perceptions have changed and WAH is increasingly viewed as an essential, long term solution.
So, what has changed?
In short, change was forced upon us, with business continuity models being put to the ultimate test. Rather than one building being closed for a short period of time, all buildings had to shut their doors, indefinitely.
Businesses had no option but to adapt and face the associated challenges head on. For the most part, they were successful.
And so, a year on, as governments and companies look towards the possibility of returning to the office, many businesses are questioning whether they need to return at all.
How perceptions towards WAH have changed amongst the 3 key stakeholder groups
Having experienced WAH for 12 months, businesses had their eyes opened to the benefits that this CX model can bring. Not only this, but they overcame many fears relating to the perceived barriers and risks.
Of course, WAH isn’t just about businesses, it must work for the people who are working from home too. So, how have perceptions changed amongst the 3 key stakeholder groups?
- Customer Service Colleagues
Although many CS Colleagues had not worked at home prior to the pandemic, they have settled into new routines. They’ve overcome the challenges initially faced, including identifying the right physical space to work in, and have realised the benefits work-at-home can bring. As a result, many don’t feel the need to return to the office, and when surveyed two out of three said they wished to remain home-based.
Of the three key stakeholders, businesses were previously by far the most resistant to adopting WAH. But now they’ve seen it first-hand and experienced what it can do for their business.
They see that the majority of CS Colleagues are happier and, as a result, support quality for customers has been as good as, if not better than, it was in-centre. What’s more, the risks they had associated with WAH failed to materialise.
As a result, many will maintain a home-based model, at least as part of their offering.
- Customer Experience Management Partners – SYKESHome
SYKESHome has operated for over 5 years in Europe, and for much longer in North America. When various lockdown measures were introduced, SYKES already had the knowledge, resources, technology and ability to move many thousands of colleagues to work at home within a 3-week time frame, with little or no disruption to customer service programmes. We’re naturally keen that it continues to grow as clients’ preferred CX model in Europe.
Changing our understanding of continuity
It’s clear to see that, during the past year, it’s not just attitudes to work-at-home that have changed, but the very notion of business continuity has changed too.
Rather than having plans in place to deal with a temporary issue, business continuity planning now is about changing mindsets amongst all stakeholders to accept that long duration business risks must be accommodated. It is only by changing these mindsets that we can move away from what worked before, to what is working now and for the future.