Study: Most Contact Center Agents Would Quit Without Remote Work Option

Contact centers successfully shifted to remote work during the pandemic and agents adjusted to this flexible work arrangement. How will agents respond, as more companies bring employees back to the office?

A recent survey from Playvox found that more than half of contact center agents said they might leave their jobs if they couldn’t work remotely.

Playvox asked contact center managers about the likelihood of bringing agents back to the office, the flexible work policies they have in place and the tools managers use to support remote employees.

Of the 60 percent of survey participants who said they still work from home, 56 percent said they might leave their jobs if they couldn’t work remotely. Looking at the benefits of remote work cited by survey participants, it’s easy to see why the option is so popular:

  • 91 percent said working remotely helps them save money on transportation, dining out and their office attire
  • More than three-quarters said they value the flexibility and control of their schedule that remote work affords
  • 70 percent said working remotely helps them stay healthy and avoid illness
  • 70 percent said their job happiness has increased due to remote work

At the same time, one reason for supporting flexible work is its benefit to the business. More than 40 percent of managers said the ability to work remotely has greatly or somewhat reduced agent resignation rates. Given that contact centers can have higher employee turnover rates – up to 38 percent at large customer support centers – working remotely is an incentive managers can use to encourage agents to stay.

“Agents want flexibility in where they work for many of the same reasons that other people want to work from home,” said Michelle Randall, Playvox’s chief marketing officer. “In addition to having more control of their time, agents cited health and financial reasons for wanting to make remote work a permanent option. Plus, when you factor in lower resignation rates and higher job satisfaction, flexible work becomes a win-win for agents and contact centers alike.”

Despite the benefits of remote work, 45 percent of managers in the Playvox survey said they’ll bring their agents back to the office at some point during 2022. This decision could put contact centers and agents at odds and undo some of the positive strides made in retention. Among the feedback agents provided:

  • Half said they wouldn’t work for a company that didn’t have a remote option
  • More than half said they’d be extremely or very likely to leave their job if their employer didn’t support remote work
  • Nearly 70 percent said they don’t want to return to the office at any point

Contact centers may be hesitant to support a remote work option if they lack an official policy. Only one-third of survey respondents said their organization has a protocol in place for remote work. These policies are critical for specifying remote work criteria such as meeting performance standards and having a dedicated and quiet workspace with internet access.

Along with a company policy, having the right tools is critical to a successful remote work experience. In the past year, 54 percent of managers said they deployed video conferencing software and 27 percent said they implemented collaboration tools to support remote agents. In addition, 55 percent of managers said they implemented Workforce Management or Quality Management software to help remote agents maintain performance standards

“The research identified the critical role that Quality Management and Workforce Management solutions play in a successful remote or hybrid work environment. The initial shift to remote work was overwhelmingly positive. Contact centers worldwide embraced flexible arrangements and leveraged technology to enhance the agent experience,” Randall said. “The survey results show that agents prefer to work this way and make the case for contact centers to permanently support a flexible work arrangement. As more organizations adopt this approach for the long-term, progress can be made toward reversing the resignation rates that have long been associated with the contact center industry.”

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