If we had asked our clients in January, ‘could they have got most of their staff working from home within a week?’ the answer would have been a resounding ‘no’. Some may have pointed to their contingency plans and extolled the virtues of the remote site stand-by offices with ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ stand-by systems. Others may have pointed to the ‘war game’ scenario testing, based on risk mitigation that regularly take place. However, these situations are just not the same – it is still working from an office, albeit a different one.
What has been impressive, in reality, is the number of firms who did get their staff up and running from homes right across the globe, with around a week’s notice. Banks, financial service providers and utility businesses all achieved the ‘work from home’ directive quickly and efficiently.
However, the resultant pressures of working in that scenario caused massive issues in dealing with customers; poor telephone systems, poor customer service, lack of control processes and insufficient decision makers being available were the first and obvious signs that systems broke down.
The situation is changing almost daily, but what is apparent is that we need to get the economy moving again; getting back to some sort of normality is critical and that does include how and where we work. The big challenge for firms however, is whether workforces are ready to return to their offices. Sadly, we all know colleagues who are struggling with the isolation of working from home, and there are those, of course, who just miss the office interactions. However, there are also massive numbers who are not missing the daily commute (some have found another 3 hours in their life per working day). There is significant anecdotal evidence that many employees have enjoyed more family time and found a new work/life balance, which for many is a positive outcome. Over and above those who are reluctant to return to the office because they like their new surroundings, there is another cohort who are simply not ready to sit on any other form of public transport anytime soon.
Governments and employers are likely to find a big reluctance from employees to move away from the new normal of working from home. We think getting their staff back to the office in practice is going to take a lot longer than governments would like. So, while the aspiration might be to shift staff back to the office, firms need to plan for changing work patterns and that will mean more staff working from home or working from remote micro hubs. In our view, this pandemic has accelerated this social change in our working environment by at least a decade.
This type of scenario is precisely why we developed Yabber Global, with its ability to monitor and report on 100% of customer interactions wherever they take place, providing managers with the focused feedback they need to ensure correct customer outcomes. Give us a call to see how we can help your business.