As businesses start to shift back to an in-person working environment, it’s essential to keep your workplace safe against the spread of COVID-19.
The pandemic moved many call center settings to new models last year. National lockdowns have either forced call center firms to go under or adjust to a working-from-home strategy.
One thing is sure, despite the pandemic — call centers offer clients throughout the world a very valuable service. When it comes to more complex disputes, 40% of customers prefer to speak with customer service officials over the phone since they frequently provide an instant answer compared to live chat, e-mail, and social networks.
Most traditional call centers have representatives sitting in close quarters. On top of that, the hallway between already cramped desks is usually high-traffic.
While this setting was convenient in the pre-pandemic era, now is the time to reevaluate safety protocols and make everything more comfortable.
Making offices more comfortable and safer will relieve a lot of anxiety many employees are feeling. And while remote work came with its struggles, returning to the workplace comes with a big responsibility of keeping it safe.
Implement Social Distancing
Implementing social distancing is the first and most obvious step. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to move if your workspace is smaller — adjust it as much as space allows. Spread out desks and add partitions where you can.
Since call centers have people talking on the phone all day, implementing a mask policy can be difficult, but you can suggest employees wear masks when they are up from their desks and walking around. Another good idea is to install fiberglass or plastic barriers onto each desk.
Social distancing means avoiding large meetings, too. Instead, use virtual meetings whenever possible. There are many different video conferencing platforms nowadays that make virtual meetings easier.
Other than distancing, you should provide gloves and masks on every corner and put them in a visible spot so that everyone can use them.
Consider Allowing Employees To Work in Shifts
Limiting the number of people in your call center will limit the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Many companies are now allowing their employees to work in shifts. For example, one team comes in on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the other on Tuesday and Thursday.
For certain people, remote work is equally as productive as working in the office — if not even more so. Part-time remote working in shifts will allow employees to control their own schedules while also reducing the stress associated with a sudden change in their working environment.
Another option, if you have the resources to do so, is to keep teams separated by floor level. Many call center representatives are on multiple floors. If yours is, consider limiting access to specific floors by different team members (i.e., a team on the second floor can’t go to the fourth floor, etc.)
One significant benefit of your team working in shifts and part-time remotely is safety. It means if there happens to be a COVID-19 outbreak at your call center, half or many of your employees will have never been exposed and can continue working, which will help you avoid business interruptions.
Set Up Sanitization Stations
Sanitization stations make it easy for your employees to clean up after themselves and stay safe.
Not everyone has the same cleanliness standards, but you have to keep everything at the highest level in this situation. If you set up sanitizing stations in visible places where no one can miss them, you will ensure that more people use them.
Some call centers have daytime and nighttime shifts to provide 24/7 customer service. If your call center does this, a sanitization station is even more important to have. If there happens to be an outbreak, you need to be sure that the other half of the team hasn’t been exposed, and because of that, urge employees to wipe down their entire workstation and phones after they’re done with work.
Consider Hiring a Cleaning Crew
Cleaning can quickly get time-consuming. In addition to providing sanitization stations, it might be in your best interest to hire a cleaning company. Not only will it free up a lot of your employees’ time, but you will ensure that safety is the highest priority.
Many things need to be evaluated and professionally cleaned to provide a clean and healthy work environment. For instance, air vents need special attention and are probably not something you and your employees want to handle yourselves.
Depending on your employees to do the cleaning also leads to low productivity and low morale — you shouldn’t make them responsible for keeping the whole call center clean and sanitized.
Instead, consider hiring commercial cleaners to take care of it all. You won’t have to worry if things are getting cleaned or whether your call center is sanitary.
The New Call Center Normal
All transitions demand a high level of communication. Start by drawing out a strategy, talking to your staff, and understanding how to help your team do their best.
Keep communication lines open during the changeover. The aim is to ensure that all safety requirements are precise and reasonably met by establishing a seamless transition process for employees.
When you have a safe place to work, employees will have a better attitude. But if you find that coming back into the office has been more challenging for them, here are some ways to motivate your team.