Call centre staff encouraged to pull plug on extensive working from home

A group representing contact centre businesses wants staff to work from home less.

The Customer Contact Network New Zealand is a group made up of a range of businesses in the call and contact centre industry.

It is calling for an end to fulltime working from home models and a switch to hybrid models that allow for both working in the office and from home.

The industry body’s research from last year surveyed 60 local contact and call centre businesses.

It found 10 percent of staff work from home fulltime – while 86 percent work from home at least one day a week.

Customer Contact Network New Zealand chief executive Elias Kanaris said working from the office provided support for workers facing an increase in abusive calls.

“Having somebody available who can take you through that resilience and that help is so important.”

Kanaris said they were not suggesting people come into the office all the time but to encourage it more often.

“If you do that you might be able to put together training days and social days that help to build a bond within the team.”

In January One NZ call centre workers protested against working from home policy changes.

The telecommunications company, formerly Vodafone, planned to introduce a requirement for some contact centre workers to work from the office three times a week, an increase of one day from their previous arrangement.

Union responds

Unite Union national secretary John Crocker said contact centre staff were saving lots of money and time by working from home and not having to commute – and they did not want that to change.

“[Businesses are] asking for a significant imposition of costs on to the workers, I think the company needs to meet some of that.”

Despite businesses claiming they lost productivity when people worked from home, that was probably only true for people who spent lots of time in meetings, Crocker said.

“These people don’t spend all week in meetings, they’re frontline staff, they spend a lot of time one on one with customers, so saying they need them back all the time just doesn’t stack up.”

The network was overstating the support that workers got in the office when they dealt with angry customers, he said.

“In our experience, they [workers] complain that they don’t get enough, and that was when they were working in the office all the time.”

But Crocker admitted it was trickier for managers to manage workers remotely. And he was pleased the network was not “pushing things too far” by suggesting staff work in the office full time.

“Their arguments in favour of being in the office stretch a little thin when you go beyond two or three days a week, for these kind of workers.”

Businesses should work with staff to agree on any changes to work-from-home policies, rather than just imposing them, he said.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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