The Future of Call Centre Design

The Future of Call Centre Design

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Due to the nature of the work done in a call centre, it is difficult to evolve much from the standard design of an ‘oversized room packed with rows of desks and chairs’.

However, while the above description may tend to be the most widely accepted design solution for call centres, there are a few developments that can be considered when it comes to how the actual user can function more effectively within the space.

1. Flexibility of the Environment

There is a need for staff to have the flexibility to quickly match the changing commercial objectives of their employer, role or position.

Contact centre environments need to reflect this shift in culture. Thus, the best way to future-proof a call centre is to design a flexible environment.

Change is constant in the workplace. Teams are fluid, being created as quickly as they are dissolved, and so people need to have the freedom to move wherever and whenever they’re needed.

At the same time, with many centres being open to serve all hours of the day, ‘owning’ a single desk is not practical. Thus the use of a mobile desking system along with a ‘hot desking’ policy is most ideal.

TIP: Giving people the freedom to move motivates them while still supporting the flexible nature of their jobs

2. Ergonomics for the Individual

Allowing individuals to work at their desk in whichever way feels most comfortable for their own bodies will go a long way towards relieving fatigue and work related injuries.

Encouraging regular movement also helps employees to remain mentally alert and engaged at all times. If staff are comfortable they will be more productive.

Height adjustable desks allow the operator to stand and change positions frequently and easily.

Other accessories that can aid with ergonomics are:

  • Foot stools that are portable and adjustable.
  • A wireless keyboard and mouse can allow for extra flexibility on the workstation.
  • Monitors mounted on adjustable arms allow flexibility on the desk as well as between sitting and standing positions.

Whilst the basic idea of a desk may never change, the use of ergonomic accessories to suit individual needs has become very important.

3. Close Proximity of Breakaway Spaces

Contact centres are busy and noisy places which necessitate the need for quiet places where people can meet one-on-one, in their teams, or to take and make challenging or private calls.

But these are events which can happen at short notice, so spending time scouring the building for a quieter place can quickly interrupt the flow of work as well as waste valuable time.

The ability to gather quickly in a pod for a team meeting or to make a quiet phone call keeps people focused and ensures that essential conversations can take place with a minimum of interruption. These pods or meeting spaces can be located in amongst the desks at regular intervals.

Using mobile screens to demarcate these spaces also ensures the flexibility of the floor layout is maintained.

4. Home from Home

Operating around the clock, many contact centres are places where people spend long periods of time, often outside the traditional nine-to-five working pattern.

So, perhaps more than anything else, these need to be places where employees feel comfortable with their surroundings in order to get the best out of them.

Spaces need to be provided where employees can take a ‘time-out’ from the phones to mentally relax and regroup.

These can range from the standard pause area, equipped with a coffee machine and a comfy couch, to bigger ‘wellness focused areas’ such as in-house gyms, restaurants and games rooms.

The goal is for employees to ‘take a break’ from the office and thus it is important to remember that these ‘breakaway’ spaces must NOT look anything like the rest of the office work space.

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Kerry Tangney
Kerry Tangney is a qualified interior designer with over eight years’ experience designing corporate office spaces. She has worked for numerous private space planning and design firms and currently heads up the design department within the Workspace Planning division of one of South Africa’s major banks. Part of her mandate is to remain at the forefront of current and future trends in workplace design and she has a keen interest in the emotional effects of spaces.