The workplace reimagined: What it means for our offices, employees, and customers

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COVID-19’s influence on our work life is far from over.

Yes, we (mostly) asked our staff to work from home, and they did great. Yes, we scrambled to empower them with collaboration tools beyond instant messaging and file-sharing, and we got it done.  And yes, we’re starting to look at how to reconfigure our offices so that when employees do return, they do so safely.

But we’re still at the beginning of a new phase of how we work. In a Fortune magazine survey, only 27% of Fortune 500 CEOs expect workers to fully return to their usual workplace in 2020. Just over 26% see work from home lasting indefinitely.

It’s time to accept that we’re in this for the long haul. This means moving away from quick fixes and shifting our attention to solid plans that support productivity, innovation, and customer satisfaction.

Here’s a look at how collaboration and communication technologies can improve the three experiences that matter the most to any organization: customer experience (CX), workplace experience (WX), and employee experience (EX).

Reinventing the customer experience

An explosive shift to a globalized remote workforce caused immediate disruption to companies operating in traditional contact centers (e.g., Oracle sent over 100,000 customer service agents home to work remotely). As such, organizations are being forced to completely reinvent their CX.

For the early adopters, modern, cloud-based contact centers allowed them to curate the CX digitally, creating an entirely new way of supporting customers and successfully adapting to the initial marketplace shocks from COVID-19. But how do organizations ensure they’re enabling customers and meeting all their needs going forward?

Enter the omnichannel contact center.

Omnichannel contact centers harness traditional customer service approaches, yet utilize technologies that allow customers to engage through their preferred methods of communication — live-chat, social media, mobile, video, and more.

Creating a successful omnichannel customer experience requires good workforce management and optimization solutions. Whether it’s call recording, agent performance management, or interaction analytics, workforce management and optimization solutions aim to increase agent engagement and craft long-lasting customer relationships with your organization.

When properly deployed, an omnichannel contact center gives you the tools to gather insights from your customer interactions. Instead of simply answering the phone, an omnichannel contact center lets customers engage in a multitude of media channels, and then uses those engagements to judge customer consumption, sentiment, and satisfaction.

This information informs not only contact center staffing needs, but it can also drive product innovations, forecast sales, and evaluate the impact of your marketing campaigns.

Changing the workplace experience

According to Gartner, nearly 74% of CFOs plan to shift some employees to permanent remote work. However, for many organizations, a phased return to the workplace is inevitable.

A hybrid model of decentralized workplaces introduces challenges, forcing organizations to re-write their business models and technologies to support:

  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Reconfigured workspaces and meeting rooms
  • Employee safety
  • Protection of sensitive customer and organizational data
  • Workspace management

Since workforces have become so accustomed to collaborating remotely over these last few months, you must provide solutions to encourage employees to leave their desks when they return to the office.

Meeting rooms will need to provide the same tools employees have become familiar with – like screen sharing, interactive whiteboarding, and video conferencing – especially since many meetings will have a mix of on-site and remote participants. It’s also important to establish social distancing measures so employees feel comfortable working away from their desks.

Reducing employee density, managing the number of days employees are in an office, and scheduling sanitization can be complicated. Thankfully, there are a host of solutions meeting these challenges, including work scheduling software, which:

  • Helps manage the closure of desks, supporting social distancing
  • Allows employees to book desks where and when they need them
  • Provides employees an assigned workspace before they enter the office
  • Generates work orders for your cleaning vendors after a desk is utilized
  • Provides instant contact tracing by recording where employees are sitting and by whom

The real-time benefits of implementing work scheduling solutions are undeniable. Employers can successfully manage workplace returns in a safe and scalable manner. New opportunities open for saving real estate costs and redesigning workspaces to make them more efficient. And ultimately, employers can increase employee satisfaction by providing more choice, flexibility, and safety.

Crafting the future of employee experiences

Organizations that transitioned to remote work for the first time underwent a daunting exercise in resiliency and adaptability. But meeting all your employees’ technology needs was just the first phase.

With remote and hybrid work environments here to stay, how will you effectively manage employees and keep them engaged and productive? One way is by creating a seamless experience for getting them the tools they need, ready to go, delivered to their door.

For your IT teams, this means less time preparing and shipping new devices and more time supporting core platforms. For existing employees, this means replacing aging or broken kits with minimal fuss or loss of productivity. For new staff, it means a hassle-free onboarding experience.

Similarly, how will you promote the ongoing wellbeing and work-life balance of your employees? According to a PwC survey, 72% of office workers would like to continue working remotely at least twice a week. Are you prepared to support them?

Cultivating a shared mindset and trusting relationship with your workers is the bedrock of long-lasting success for your organization. Ultimately, this should translate into investing in technologies that support ongoing professional development, interactive unified communications and collaboration, task and workflow optimization, and regular touchpoints with your workers — all of which will enhance EX.

You’re not alone

Our work lives are changing in ways we couldn’t have imagined. To manage this shift, we must execute short-term fixes while planning for and implementing long-term strategies that will support collaboration, productivity, and innovation.

By prioritizing CX, WX, and EX, you should be able to maintain both a happy workforce and a satisfied customer base.

To learn more about how SHI can help with your CX, WX and EX needs, watch our on-demand webinar or contact us today.

Peter Bean and John Winters contributed to this post.