Contact Center Returning to the Work Place

On April 16th, President Trump unveiled Guidelines For Opening Up America Again, a three phased approach based on up-to-date data and readiness in fighting COVID-19. This phased approach focuses on two key elements, Mitigation and Protection. Whether you have partially or fully closed your Customer Contact Center, either out of need or based on an already established program, what is your company’s approach to have your associates return to the workplace?

Now is the time, while states are evaluating preparedness, that Contact Centers should be developing workplace assessments and determining operational levels of risk regarding mitigation and protection as they relate to the move back to the work place.

One approach is to create “Back-To-Work Action Task Force” comprised of key decision makers, inclusive of Human Resource and Contact Center associate representation. The task force should review operational procedures and support policies presently in place and those that may change or need adjustment over time as the re-opening phases progress.

Here are some of the actions the “Back-To-Work Action Task Force” may want to take when considering re-opening the center:

  • Review workstation floor plan; determine maximum seating capability that aligns with phased social distancing recommendations; Remove unwanted chairs to reinforce spacing.

  • Align workforce management practices with phased social distancing recommendations. Consider staggered work shift practices based on seating capability, revised and/or split schedules and maintaining a partial Work from home contingency with a phased transition back to work.

  • Develop a routinely coordinated antibacterial cleaning schedule to sanitize stations, offices, etc.

  • Develop guidelines and visuals floor spacing techniques to limit gatherings in communal areas (i.e. meeting/conference rooms, break areas, coffee and water dispensary areas, outside smoking areas, etc.). If you offer food service via an in-house cafeteria consider reduced operating hours and offering pre-packaged food only.

  • Develop maintenance and safety/cleaning programs with the associate’s safety in mind (i.e. head-set equipment, sanitized wipes upon entry to the center, plastic gloves, etc.).

Your HR Department plays a critical role in policy creation and employee communication; coordinate response plans and safety measures in order to help associates feel secure. Partner with HR in:

  • Developing an associate FAQ document

  • Addressing and communicating short-term changes to the absentee program, sick day policy, etc.

  • Issuing up-to-date pro-active behaviors and policies (i.e. prompt identification of sick associates, post prevention measure posters, etc.).

  • Developing an easily accessible communication channel for associates to ask questions that may not be address through other efforts.

Re-Opening the Contact Center should consist of a well thought out plan. Providing clear and complete information and ensuring the appropriate measures have been taken to create a safe and healthy work environment for your associates will assist in ensuring success.

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