Seventy percent of customer service and support employees want to continue to work from home (WFH) at least once a week after the pandemic ends, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc.
In September 2020, Gartner surveyed 5,000 employees, including 550 customer service professionals, and found that service employees who traditionally did not have many opportunities to WFH are now used to it and like it, and they wish to continue in some capacity once the pandemic is over. This is in line with most service leaders who believe WFH is here to stay post-pandemic. Eighty-one percent of service leaders believe between 30% to 80% of their workforce will primarily be working from home two years from now.
“As service leaders weigh the future of their work from home programs, they’ll have to balance their own visions for the future with employee wishes,” said Lauren Villeneuve, advisory director in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice. “A key factor should be the impact it has had, and will continue to have, on the employee experience. Leaders will want to understand which focus areas should be prioritized and which should not as they decide where to invest in and optimize their work from home programs.”
Customer service and support leaders working on long-term post-COVID-19 WFH strategies should consider the following:
- Culture: Since the mass shift to working from home, many service leaders report growing concerns for the future of their company culture. However, Gartner data indicates WFH has posed less of a challenge to organizational culture than anticipated. In fact, most customer service employees who work remotely say organizational culture has remained the same – and most of those who do think it’s changed actually say it’s improved since the shift to WFH. Service leaders should continue to monitor culture within their own organizations but may want to consider investing time and resources elsewhere.
- Collaboration: While employees affirm WFH hasn’t negatively impacted culture, it has impacted collaboration. Service employees say they are collaborating less frequently since transitioning to WFH. While service leaders have invested in collaboration technologies, they should make sure they also create opportunities for collaboration, model collaborative behavior and reward collaboration when it occurs to ensure the technology is used.
- Career development: Pre-pandemic biases against remote employees now seem particularly unfounded given employee performance has largely remained consistent throughout the pandemic. While the vast majority of service employees continue to WFH, this presents less of an issue. But if managers hold these beliefs once some employees return to the workplace, they could create a barrier to career progression for employees who choose to continue working from home. Service leaders should work to uncover why these biases exist and closely monitor managers who manage remote employees or hybrid teams for signs of bias.
Gartner Customer Service and Support Leaders clients can learn more in the report "Impacts of WFH Strategy on the Service and Support Employee Experience" and “Plans for and Anticipated Challenges of Long-Term WFH Programs for Service and Support.” 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.