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Making Cubicle Life Better

Posted on  15 March 11  by 

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Like many of the young professionals my age, I work in a cubicle.  This isn’t an ideal situation, but at least it gives me an incentive to work up to an office some day.  Given the limitations of working in a cubicle, I’ve been forced to make the most of the space I’ve been allotted.  I don’t take it completely for granted, though, because I likely have more space than most customer service representatives (reps, on average, have 40% less space than other functions provide).

It is thus important to make the most of what you’re provided, so here are some strategies I would recommend to improve the use of space within your organization and enable reps to perform their best:

Space-maximization techniques—Managers may leverage technological advancements, including those detailed below, to maximize the use of space within agent workspaces, such as:

  • Above-ceiling panels—Feed voice, data, and power to agents from wiring located above the ceiling rather than on floor level, freeing up space previously allocated to electrical equipment for additional rep workstations.
  • Flat panel computer monitors—Flat panel monitors require up to 20% less space and use up to 60% less energy than traditional monitors, thereby reducing furniture and power costs.

Acoustical privacy—Agents may increase their productivity with the aid of noise-reduction techniques that mitigate the distraction of nearby conversations, such as:

  • Partial-height screens—Partial screens absorb sound without prohibiting collaboration among contact center employees.
  • Absorptive ceilings, walls, and floors—Designers may adapt the contact center to include materials such as carpet that minimize sounds across workspaces.
  • Sound masking—Sound masking involves the generation of white noise, which contains a blend of all audible frequencies, to create continual background noise that prevents agents from hearing individual voices; studies indicate that when used properly, sound masking may enhance rep performance by enabling employees to focus on their own calls while mitigating external distractions.

Personal workspace arrangement—By limiting the amount of space dedicated to individual reps, companies may experience reduced morale among employees who prefer a more personalized and comfortable environment. Companies may counter these results by incorporating personal elements, such as:

  • Human factor technology design—This engineering strategy focuses on computer settings such as computer size, keyboard layout, monitor height, and screen layout. Although often overlooked, leveraging these design elements effectively may make tasks less difficult or uncomfortable for agents to complete.
  • Nontraditional cubicle/desk arrangements—Even when organizations choose to maintain traditional cubicle workspaces, they may arrange cubicles in clusters rather than rows in order to facilitate collaboration among teammates and modernize the space’s appearance.
  • Location-specific modifications— Site located offshore should adapt to the host country’s work culture and infrastructure to retain agents.

CCC members can learn more about these strategies in our research brief on contact center space utilization.  While these are some of the core ways to make the best use of rep workspace, I’m sure there is abundance of other approaches.  What has your organization done to optimize workspace?

Comments from the Network (1)

  1. Laura Sikorski
    on March 17, 2011

    I have been designing/space planning call centers since early 80′s – from 10 to 500 seats. The ability to design a call center environment requires knowledge of the building blocks – Layout, Furniture, Acoustics, Climate and Lighting. These factors will attract staff and assure their safety and welfare. The workfloor is the most critical component of design and needs to be its core. Good design will increase morale and motivation, reduce stress, absenteeism and errors. Your staff needs access to job tools, the ability to control the use of their own workspace and COMFORT. Be sure your architect understands call centers and that they are not to be designed like traditional offices.

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