The Future of Work Is Hybrid and Flexible

“By 2025, the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal.”

This prediction comes from The World Economic Forum in its “Future of Jobs Report 2020,” which details how the effects of COVID-19 have accelerated the arrival of the future of work. Businesses have adopted new technologies to contend with workforce disruptions, industry volatility and global uncertainty.

We’ve already witnessed a year of rapid adoption as enterprises have invested in technologies to enable remote work; stabilize their supply chains; digitize processes, products and services; and handle unprecedented spikes in interactions across non-voice channels.

Buying cycles in the contact center continue to speed up as companies look to the cloud to transform their customer experience and enable digital business. In fact, digital adoption has accelerated to what was initially expected in 2025.

Consumers across all demographics have grown accustomed to using digital channels like web chat and messaging apps over the past year. And digital customer service interactions will increase by 40% in 2021, predicts Forrester.

But it’s not just consumer expectations that are changing. The way we work is changing.

Millions of customer support agents have been forced to work remotely. And many companies are determining if these agents should return to the contact center, keep working remotely or establish a more flexible hybrid approach.

And contact centers now face an estimated three times more interactions without an increase in employee headcount. Many of these interactions are being handled by self-service technology, with more complex inquiries going to human agents.

This means that workers must not only build their proficiency on digital channels, but also continuously learn new skills. In fact, resilience and digital fluency were cited as the No. 1 or No. 2 most important skills across every country in a global survey of Learning and Development (L&D) leaders, according to LinkedIn in its “2021 Workplace Learning Report.”

So, it’s an understatement to say that business leaders face increasing pressure in these challenging times. Yet problems in the contact center still abound.

Disparate legacy systems across functions and locations create complexities and inefficiencies. Leaders often lack data visibility into employee performance. And the inability to visualize customer and employee trends makes it more difficult for companies to ensure their customers are known and understood — or make their employees feel happy and productive.

Let’s explore what all this means for the future of contact centers and your workforce.

Innovations Drive a New Hybrid

There’s a long history of debate about whether best-of-breed solutions or a solution suite are better for contact centers. Historically, many companies adopted a best-of-breed approach because they bought point solutions that met their specific functional needs. However, many of these point solutions proved expensive and lacked necessary speed and agility. And companies later realized the benefits of a pre-integrated, more agile solution suite — but feared they’d lose out on best-of-breed innovations.

Today’s market has moved toward a hybrid ecosystem where companies can choose a strategic partner with a broad product suite, specialized applications and services. These innovative suites offer the best of both worlds with functionality and ease of management — integrating digital, voice, self-service, workforce engagement and other technologies — in a seamless solution.

Over the past year, the shift to working from home has caused enterprises worldwide to search for workforce engagement management (WEM) solutions to keep their employees engaged. And cloud-based contact center solutions give companies the tools to better engage and satisfy their employees.

Ninety-four percent of Frost & Sullivan customers said their next WEM purchase will be cloud.

Machines Aren’t the Only Ones Learning

Advances in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) continue to contribute to the ongoing shift in the division of labor between humans and machines.

By 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by this shift, while 97 million new roles could emerge that are more adapted to this new division of labor, according to the World Economic Forum in its “Future of Jobs Report 2020.”

Such jaw-dropping numbers underscore the need for all workers to develop skills like critical thinking, analysis, problem-solving, flexibility and stress tolerance.

The critical need to address worker skills gaps isn’t lost on L&D professionals. In 2021, 64% of L&D leaders globally agree that L&D shifted from a “nice to have” to a “need to have,”  according to the “LinkedIn 2021 Workplace Learning Report.

Rethink Your Workforce Engagement for a New Era

Traditional workforce management (WFM) and quality management (QM) processes are more about optimizing costs than providing excellent customer service. Employees are a tremendous asset. But to excel, they must be onboarded, trained and made to feel like part of a team — part of something greater — even if they’re working from home.

WEM technology plays a critical role in keeping agents on their paths to success.

To hear more about the future of workforce engagement management as well as how Genesys is building the future of WEM, tune into our webinar “Rethink: Workforce engagement management in 2021 and beyond.”