Contact Centers Can be Safe Workplaces, Even During COVID
- Many workers have concerns about contact center jobs, but the CX industry has shown to be a leader in workplace health & safety.
- Contact center workplaces must comply with new government regulations regarding production floor layout. itel has become a pioneer of COVID-ready building design.
- Contact center design offers 6-foot distancing between agents at itel’s newly opened Jeffersonville, Indiana location.
- Dedicated work areas and employee devices lessen employee risk.
- Sustained education campaigns educate employees about the prevention, spread and detection of COVID-19.
- itel is offering free vaccine clinics and aims to reach an 80% vaccination rate across all their sites.
- Regular cleaning and sanitizing protocols keep thousands of contact center employees safe every day.
As companies ramp up to their pre-pandemic business levels and workers return on-site, there’s still fear and uncertainty on the part of employees; 45% of workers still fear getting COVID-19, while 29% worry about transmitting it to their unvaccinated loved ones. This concern is heightened when people think of returning to, or applying for, a contact center job. Though these businesses rely on having large numbers of people working in a shared space, the customer experience industry, for this very reason, has proven to be a leader in shaping health & safety protocols for contact centers during COVID-19.
Find out how itel is setting a new standard for contact center safety, as well as COVID prevention and education among its employees.
Covid-19 Safety a Necessity in Today’s Job Market
As workers return in-house, they want to be reassured that their workplaces are safe. In fact, current surveys report that nearly 60% of job seekers will turn down a position if an employer doesn’t have clear health and safety protocols related to COVID-19.
itel’s Senior Director of Employee Health and Safety, Yeashkark Allen, wants to reassure people that contact centers can be safe when the right precautions and protocols are in place.
“At itel, one of our founding mottos is employee experience equals customer experience. A happy, healthy workplace leads to greater productivity and better results for both the employee and the company. That’s why we take employee health and safety very seriously, across all our international sites.”
Building Covid-Ready Contact Centers
The layout and design of today’s contact centers play a vital role in keeping employees safe. Many businesses have had to reimagine their workspaces to comply with new government regulations. itel, an early pioneer in COVID-ready building design, has taken extra precautions to ensure that production floors offer safe distancing between agents.
In the case of Jeffersonville, Indiana, itel’s newest U.S. contact center, the 400-seat production floor is spacious enough to maintain social distancing of 6-feet.
“In Jeffersonville, we have ample room to space out employees,” Allen tells us, “The zigzag design of the workstations acts as a buffer between agents.”
To lessen the risk of any contamination, agents do not switch seats. Each one is assigned a dedicated desk, computer, keyboard and headset, and employees are also given free access to cleaning supplies, so they can sanitize their workspaces regularly throughout the day.
In itel sites where six-foot distancing is challenging to maintain, there are 3-foot high plexiglass partitions that separate each workstation from its neighbor. itel’s partitions have a greater height than what is typically required in local government guidelines, which demonstrates how the company has been a driving force behind not only meeting, but also setting, the standards for COVID-safety in the BPO sector.
Creating a Safety-Focused Company Culture
The human element is central to any safety plan. Another component of itel’s “COVID-ready culture” involves educating employees about the prevention, spread and detection of COVID-19.
“We have a lot of different initiatives that we've put in place. Education campaigns, where we send out company-wide emails, along with flyers and posters distributed across all our sites, that explain what COVID is, how it’s spread and how best to protect yourself. I believe it’s helped us lessen our risk.”
The company has a mask requirement for anyone entering their buildings, including employees, management and even visitors.
“It’s also important to have a clearly-communicated procedure in case someone suspects they may have contracted COVID,” explains Allen.
In the case of itel, if an employee feels unwell and has COVID symptoms, they must avoid coming to work. They cannot return without a negative PCR test from a physician’s office or a pharmacy. They also have to do a mandatory 14-day quarantine, as recommended by the CDC, and itel carries out a deep cleaning of any areas that the person may have touched.
Moving Beyond Protection to Proactive COVID Prevention
The aim of itel’s campaigns is to not only raise awareness of COVID safety, and to remind employees to follow precautions, but the company is also taking an active role in its prevention.
“We’re organizing vaccine clinics at all of our sites, where health care workers actually administer the vaccine on-site, to anyone who wants it,” Allen explains.
Though vaccines are not currently mandatory at itel, the company is highly encouraging its employees to get the shot, and they are aiming for an 80% vaccination rate across all their locations.
“Right now, our Honduras site is over 80% vaccinated,” Allen adds, “and in January, the company will be launching a vaccine campaign to boost rates in three of our key locations: Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Guyana. Jeffersonville, Indiana will also be a part of this campaign. We’re looking at organizing a mobile vaccine clinic right outside our customer experience center.”
The goal is to ensure that all itel employees feel safe coming to work, and a high vaccine rate will help, though Allen again emphasizes that it is a completely personal choice.
Keeping Contact Center Careers Safe
Aided by the right cleaning and sanitizing protocols, such as regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces, lunchrooms, and restrooms, and a nightly deep-cleaning of production floors and workspaces, Allen says he “keeps thousands of people safe every single day.”
If someone were to ask him about the concern over contact center work and the rise in COVID variants, he would tell them, “I am fully confident that with all our safety measures and protocols, we can offer rewarding and safe careers at all of our contact centers.”