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  • Brian Kearney

Employees Want a Mixed Work at Home Model and They Identify Key Challenges to Sustainability

Updated: Jul 1


The contact center industry has never experienced anything like the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. It has led to a rapid and global shift of moving contact center agents and supervisors to a work at home model. During May 2020, 5th Talent International delivered a survey to more than 4,000 agents and supervisors across 7 countries. The findings provide unexpected insight into the point of view of the work at home employee. Common industry wisdom favors a 100% work at home model and suggest that only certain types of agents can be successful at home.


Yet, according to a large majority of participants, their performance was the same or better at home. This provides evidence that success can transfer from the contact center to the home. When asked where they want to work, the top choice of employees is a mix of working between home and the contact center. Less than half of the employees want to work entirely at home. An analysis of comments revealed that COVID-19 had little influence on their future work arrangement preference.


Employees did identify several challenges to the work at home model that could impact its long-term sustainability. They expressed that it requires more effort to work with each other and customers. Employees also expressed challenges with technology, feelings of loneliness, and frustration with impersonal, computer-based communication. The supervisor is the key to a successful and sustainable work at home model. They need to be trained to adapt their communication style, reduce the effort it takes to work with their team, and develop each agent to become more self-managing.


Another opportunity to improve the work at home model is by implementing a mixed model. A model that allows employees to work between home and center provides most of the benefits and reduces most of the negative factors of both work arrangements. This model is the top choice of employees because it accommodates individual preferences and optimizes employee satisfaction. Since most employees want to spend most of their time at home in a mixed model, companies can significantly reduce their contact center capacity, and potentially replace a single center with multiple microsites.


5th Talent believes a “work where you want” model will emerge which allows agents to manage and schedule how often they want to work at home and in the center. This promotes employees to become more self-managing which increases satisfaction, engagement, performance, and retention. It also reduces COVID-19 liability because they choose if (and when) they work in the center.


Organizations must understand each location to create their best-fit work at home model. Click here to obtain a copy of the 5th Talent Contact Center Industry Study 2020. For a limited time, organizations can use an online link to the 5th Talent Work at Home Questionnaire to survey their agents and supervisors. There is no cost to use the questionnaire. Please click here to request your survey link.


About 5th Talent International, LLC

5th Talent International is a service consulting company that helps organizations develop a meaningful work environment. When people have meaningful work it significantly lowers turnover and increases customer satisfaction. The 5 Talents are the foundation that enables your people to experience more meaningful moments in their work. The 5th Talent is the most important, which is using your unique talent while serving others. It helps your team authentically serve by being themselves, taking ownership, using their strengths, and building confidence, thus enabling them to make a difference in someone else’s life. However, promoting meaningful work is not enough because there are opposing forces that we call “grind” which is destroying the meaning people find in their job. Our methodology enables companies to reduce grind and increase the meaning their people find in their actual work.

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