Working at a call center can be tough. There is constant engagement, stress levels can be high, and it only takes a few negative interactions with callers to ruin an agent’s day.
In that kind of environment, it’s not surprising that turnover can be high and efficiency sometimes suffers. Anything that can improve the situation is a welcome change, and the physical layout of your call center can have a major impact on productivity and satisfaction. Read on for more details.
Keep desks open
In some situations, the cubicle can be helpful, but in most cases it’s not. Ironically, although the cubicle was developed to give employees some privacy, it really does the opposite.
As the cubicle shields workers from the eyes of others in the room, it fails to shield them from the sounds. Like all animals, we instinctively grow concerned about sounds we hear but can’t place and those sounds distract us subconsciously.
By keeping the desk plan open, you actually makes it easier for agents to ignore noises and other conversations when they need to concentrate. Good virtual call center software makes sure the right agent gets the right call; good desk layout makes the most of that by helping the agent stay focused.
A study done in 2003 discovered that call center agents became more productive by, on average, $3,000 per year when they sat by a window. For all our amazing innovations in construction, we came from the outdoors and we’re hardwired to interact with nature.
Sometimes managers worry that a view of the outdoors will distract employees, but good exposure to sunlight helps people manage their hormones, sleep better, and even lower their blood pressure.
In fact, some researchers believe that views of the outdoors help our brains constantly restore themselves from the stress and strain we put on them. Keeping your agents near the windows can help them stay upbeat and productive.
As you place your open desks around, it pays to think about how you arrange them. Instead of long lines of equally spaced desks, try arranging your people by teams. By doing so, you take advantage of two basic human instincts: cooperation and competition.
Keeping teams together enhances their ability to coordinate and cooperate. It solidifies their connection, gives the individual a sense of belonging, and makes it easy for everyone to communicate.
At the same time, people naturally like to compete with each other, and putting teams together can spur friendly, and productive, competition with other teams. Gamification techniques are a well established way of increasing productivity, and you can enhance those techniques by the way you arrange the room.
Make good break areas
In order to work at their best, humans need breaks, both mental and environmental. As you arrange your call center and place your desks, make sure you’ve left room for a satisfying and relaxing break area.
The break area should be significantly different from the rest of the room. Make sure the break area has comfortable places to sit, a refrigerator and a good coffee machine, and seed it with interesting magazines.
The goal should be to get your people to fully step away when they step away. Taking a break in furniture different from a desk chair reduces fatigue and postural pain. The chance to eat and drink can give an energy boost. Magazines encourage people to look away from the screens for a bit.
Your goal is productivity, and the best way to get that is by finding ways to enhance employee satisfaction while encouraging efficiency. The way you arrange desks is a small but significant step in producing satisfied agents, and it leads to satisfied customers and more sales.