In a few weeks’ time the Government will announce an easement in the lockdown to combat the coronavirus. This is likely to mean that people will be able to start returning to work, and return to working in an office. However, social distancing measures will still apply.

For many contact centres this is not simply inviting everyone back to the office. This will take some planning. We have compiled some of the things that you may want to consider.


Support for mental wellbeing

The mental health of all colleagues has been central to many contact centre leaders’ thinking in recent months. As the lockdown lifts and people are expected to return to work and leave their homes, anxiety may increase. Consider measures of support for colleagues as we move into a new normal.


Re-assess the risks

The chances are you have already done a full risk assessment for COVID-19, but you might want to revisit this for when the lockdown eases. We are more informed than before, and there is more guidance emerging from the government on how to identify and mitigate the risks.


New permanent approach to flexible working

Evidence suggests that working remotely isn’t suited to everyone, however migrating to homeworking may have been incredible successful for some. Being able to provide a permanent approach to flexible working will not just support your operation over the coming months but will ensure your business remain competitive in the longer term.


Phase the return

It may not be possible to bring everyone back at the same time. Consider prioritising those that cannot work from home first. How you prioritise will be led by your own operational needs and approach, but you may consider the mental health and wellbeing of your colleagues, the environment in which people are working from home (such as working around small children) and how people can travel to and from work.


Scheduling for more rotations

It may be appropriate for contact centre operations to adopt a more rotational basis for coming into the office; one week in and one week out. Consider your approach to scheduling and capacity planning to get the most from your teams whilst enabling a flexible return to work.


Cleaning regimes

The focus on washing hands has been critical to stop the spread of the virus. Cleaning regimes in the contact centre will need to be strict and stringent, ensuring not just desks, but headsets, chairs, doors and their handles and all shared equipment such as printers and touch screens are cleaned regularly. The use of hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes should be prolific in the centre.


Meet social distancing

Advisors will be anxious in returning to the office and so it will be crucial to ensure that social distancing measures are implemented and adhered to. As well as considering marking the ground to show 2m distance, you may consider nominating wardens for any communal areas.


Prepare your people

Making sure anyone coming into the office is fully aware of the social distancing measures that you are putting in place, and what you expect of your colleagues. You should also consider providing training to support colleagues in dealing with any breaches of safety.


Time out with social distancing

Of course, contact centre advisors need breaks. Consider when they take place to limit colleague density in communal areas. Consider how colleagues may take breaks, catch up with friends, have some down time and eat lunch all with social distancing in mind.

From our conversations with the Department for Business, Energy and Business Strategy, we anticipate social distancing measures to be retained for several months after lockdown has eased. This will become our new normal. Contact centre leaders that act now have time to start planning for the new normal.

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