Many service and support organizations continue to have employees working on-site during the coronavirus pandemic, so they must implement four actions for effective social distancing for those employees, according to Gartner, Inc.
On March 19, at a Gartner cohort of over 50 service and support leaders, a snap poll showed only 50% have a majority of staff working from home. That still leaves a lot of employees on-site.
“Many service organizations can’t implement remote work for all of their employees due to the lack of available infrastructure, the physical nature of some service and support roles or union contracts,” said Deborah Alvord, senior director analyst in Gartner’s Customer Service and Support Practice. “In such scenarios, service and support leaders must provide government recommended provisions, such as masks, sanitizers and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as implement social distancing for the wellness and safety of on-site employees.”
Gartner recommends that service and support leaders implement the following measures to help on-site employees practice social distancing:
- Social customs: Implement a no visitor policy in the office and allow only authorized employees into the office during this time. Any deliveries, such as food, need to be restricted to the entrance of the facility. Additionally, encourage employees to greet each other without physical contact and increase awareness around the six-feet rule.
- Scheduling shifts: Allow flexible work hours and staggered or rotational shifts so that fewer employees are on location at any given time, reducing exposure to others. This will also give the organization a buffer time, in between shifts, to thoroughly sanitize workstations.
- Workplace design: Where possible, insert partitions to raise cubicle wall heights to create a physical barrier between agents. This can reduce the spread of infectious droplets due to a sneeze or cough.
- Collaboration: If multiple roles perform similar tasks that must be performed on-site, consider pooling those tasks on rotation so that one person is responsible for the tasks allowing others to work remotely. Pooling tasks can be combined with flexible hours to further increase social distancing and reduce the risk of an employee becoming ill.
“Social distancing might impact an organization’s culture and its employees’ productivity and engagement. But taking pre-emptive steps to address these implications by developing an effective employee communication plan, and enabling managers to handle employee needs and responses, will help minimize the impact,” said Gamika Takkar, principal in Gartner’s Customer Service & Support practice.
Additional information is available to Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders clients in the report "How to Implement Social Distancing for On-Site Service Employees."
Learn more about how to lead organizations through the disruption of coronavirus in the Gartner coronavirus resource center, a collection of complementary Gartner research and webinars to help organizations respond, manage, and prepare for the rapid spread and global impact of COVID-19.
About Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders
The customer service and support function is vital to maintaining customer loyalty and influencing brand perceptions. Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders provides indispensable insights, advice and tools needed to achieve service and support leaders’ mission-critical priorities, specifically improving the customer experience while managing costs. Gartner’s research, advice and best practices equip customer service and support leaders to design an optimal service channel strategy; measure and reduce customer effort; and hire, develop and retain high-potential frontline talent.