North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Phase 5 Strategy - Step 3 Workspace Configuration

Contact Center Design Dilemmas

Whether the job involves building a new space or overhauling an existing space, contact centers are arguably the most daunting environment to pull together, involving a combination of challenges found nowhere else.

Among them:
- They’re high density—dramatically compressing the ratio of square footage per employee—which affects everything from parking to acoustics to washrooms.
- They’re stressful—employing workers who could benefit from a little environmental stimulation—which isn’t easy to provide when the starting point may be hundreds of people in a huge room with no interior walls.
- They’re technically complex—requiring sophisticated computer and communications systems—along with the ability to adapt quickly when something even more sophisticated comes out.
- They’re hard to pin down—often required to adjust staffing levels to provide shared workstations among multiple shifts—and maintain a tricky balance between privacy and collaboration.
Creating a productive, cost effective and inviting environment is challenging but not impossible.
The contact center is often over looked for spending any time, money and attention to how it looks and feels because many times customers are not allowed at contact centers. Sales people don’t meet clients at the contact center. As a result companies typically don’t invest in the appearance. Yet the people who work there care a great deal since they spend hours in the contact center.

Here are some things to consider:
The better agents are treated, the better they’ll treat customers. Put agents in a pleasant environment with comfortable furnishings and they’re more likely to maintain a patient, friendly attitude than if their workplace is hot, cramped, and depressing.
Create a showcase for the corporate image; corporate tours tend to wind through the contact center as contact centers become central to business strategy. Make it look and feel great. Make it something to be proud of.
Value your agents; by investing in contact center design, furnishing, and functionality. Companies send a clear message to agents about how there work is valued by the environment they provide.
Keeping agents comfortable and content; Agents spend a lot of time tethered to their desks. Creating an environment and atmosphere that keeps agents comfortable and content will parlay into each call an agent takes making customers content too verses agents venting frustrations and dumping inappropriate comments on callers. Comfort is also psychological; workers like to have control over their space; temperature control, be able to decorate, option of having standing desk, lighting. Agents adjust the environment to their style and job requirements leads to higher productivity and satisfaction. Workers who are constantly distracted by making themselves comfortable are far less productive.
Contact Centers are tough places to workl; high-pressure environments, repetitive task and conversations, negative issue resolutions all while keeping your cool. Performance is strictly monitored; every keystroke and phone call is monitored.
Ergonomic furniture; They sit for hours on end, often in a high-pressure environment, making them prime candidates for aching backs, necks, and wrists. Aches and pains, in turn, can lead to absenteeism and costly injuries. The more agents’ sit, the better their chair should be. Spend the money on the chair and get all the adjustments and options Keyboard, trays, monitors is another source of comfort. Do agents currently share workstations, or will they in the future? The more sharing that goes on the more adjustments you will need.
Workspace is linked to the culture. Design the agent’s workspace to support and express the elements needed for change.

The trend today is to move desks into clusters of teams, moving away from the rows of “ice cubes”. Team based clusters can have any configuration that fits your business. It depends on the workspace, technology, role of the team, etc. More free-flowing path like layouts inspired by nature are replacing the rows of cubes.
Clusters help agents feel less like a number and more like a player. Agent’s feel they belong to an important group, making side-by-sides and cross-pollination of veteran agents and rookie agents easier. Team members are more willing to share best practices for the good of the team. Will leave the light on for you!
With computers comes eyestrain caused by improper lighting; Lighting is more important than site developers and planners realize. Managing light is the art and science of a lightening expert. In most contact centers lights are beaming straight down from the ceiling creating computer monitor glare. Perhaps adjusting the bounce from shining straight down to beaming light up, creates softer and more productive lighting.
Noise is another factor; Noise in the contact center is stress producing, impacts productivity and is annoying to callers. High-volume sites look for ways to manage the noise. Examples, ceiling tiles, carpet, wall covering, even plants are noise reducing. Is it possible to create a peaceful contact center? Look around, ask agents what kind of noise is irritating and where is the distracting noise coming from? The solution is to fix it and fix it fast!
The 21st Century contact center desk has evolved over the years due to desk sharing, new cluster designs, and new ergonomic furniture.

Contact center desks are typically smaller; 2’x5’, 4’x4’ and 5’x5’ than average office cubicles and are made with enough workspace for one person. Contact center desk/cubes have shorter walls and the panel extends to the end of the desk only. These are intentionally made smaller in order to pack in as many as possible.
3D design services offer a visual tool for space planning; Taking it from 2D to 3D makes it more realistic. You can get a sense of traffic and walkways, potential noise and anticipate other issues that are missed on a 2D image.
There are many manufactures and most cubicles are infinitely configurable working with your design consultant will insure a workspace configuration that works well for your site.
Not all of us are born with the decoration gene! When it comes to the contact center design it is much more than painting the north wall a bold color.

The Design Process:
-Size of the work space, does it include, shelving, secure storage, any privacy,
-The furniture in and around the contact center, like conference rooms, lunch and break areas
-Lighting design
-Noise control
-Image and sense of community

Creating the ideal productive workspace requires the coordination of a decoration genie! Find a commercial interior designer who really understands the unique nature of contact centers.
You will experience first hand, satisfied employees make for satisfied customers. Workplace design does have significant influence over key business performance metrics. New sites have the opportunity to start with a clean slate, in this case an empty room. Make it a place everyone wants to work.

Tips!

1. How work gets done is changing and it is pushing open floor plans to replace segregating cubes; cafes replace stogy break rooms and perimeter offices are disappearing creating flexibility, mobility and community.
2. Use color not just any color but colors that impacts productivity like blue. Blue is a stable and calming color and is proven to help workers focus on the task.

Take the Next Step!

Reduce workman’s comp, absenteeism, turnover and injuries by investing in ergonomic furniture and including implementing an ergonomic training program;
Showing agents how to be more comfortable at the workstation while agents stare at monitors, sit all day, and deal with challenging customers will reduce the muscle tension; eye strain, headaches and a host of other injuries and illness that come from poor functioning workstations.

Happy comfortable agents make for productive agents.

Work Space Vendors

Contact Center Furniture

Commercial Interior Designer

NACSMA Consultant

Furniture

Specialized Office Systems offers customized solutions to deliver printing, promotional products, apparel, office supplies and business furniture to multiple locations across the country. You will receive the personalized service you want and the attention to detail you need.

Interior Designer

Cresa Commercial founded in 1993 was convinced that representing tenants exclusively was the best way to go. Not only would it give our clients the kind of objective, unbiased advice they might not get elsewhere, but it would also give us a unique offering in the real estate marketplace.

Consultant

The North American Customer Service Management Association (NACSMA) assists Service Center professionals with improving the delivery of Customer Care to their clients by providing a collaborative networking approach to operational issues.