The re-invention of the call centre.
Evolution Design completes VodafoneZiggo call centre in Rotterdam
When you think of a call centre you probably picture a line of people seated in row upon row of desks in a featureless back room. But call centres are changing. In many companies, they are now the first point of contact with customers and are increasingly important in growing new business and ensuring customer satisfaction. High tech and fast paced, with multiple contact points from email and messaging systems to video and voice calls, they also require motivated and well-trained staff. As companies recognise their growing importance, the boiler room approach is disappearing and call centres are beginning to morph into a corporate centrepiece.
Dutch telecoms company Ziggo is a case in point. The company merged with Vodafone in 2017 and today offers broadband and mobile services to both residential and commercial customers across the Netherlands. It has a large call centre and like many companies invests significant resources in training call centre employees in both technology and interpersonal skills. But staff retention remains a key issue and the company asked Swiss design and architecture practice Evolution Design to look at how workplace design could help motivate employees and reduce turnover.
‘Call centres are very regimented environments, where everything from break times to call times are controlled, and the workforce tends to be young and ethnically diverse,' says Evolution Design executive director Stefan Camenzind. 'We wanted to create a space that gave staff more choice about how and where they work and also to help foster a greater sense of teamwork and belonging.’
VodafoneZiggo’s call centre is spread over several large open plan areas, which Evolution Design converted into series of smaller work spaces, using low cost solutions such as simple wooden frames, acoustic panelling or a change of flooring to demarcate different zones.
Staff can now choose to work in areas as diverse as a plant covered ‘greenhouse’, open plan spaces with bright yellow accents and colourful floor tiles or in a more urban-style zone that uses reclaimed wooden pallets to divide and decorate. Throughout the centre, desks are height adjustable so employees can choose whether to sit or stand.
‘In a call centre, every person does the same job and needs the same equipment so the tendency is to have a battery of desks in a line,’ says Stefan Camenzind. ‘We decided to take a different approach and create a series of different environments within the space, so that staff can choose the atmosphere in which they prefer to work.’
Evolution’s design also includes a central reception area with meeting and training rooms and a colourful break out space with comfortable sofas, a café and a games zone complete with table bartball and video games.
‘We wanted to foster a sense of belonging by creating places in which staff could meet and relax and enjoy themselves,’ says Stefan Camenzind.
A comfortable, empowering and well-designed workplace won’t eliminate staffing problems but it can help to attract new talent, improve morale and increase retention rates. There’s a payback in work ethic too, says Stefan Camenzind. ‘The better people feel, the better they treat customers. They’re friendlier, more stress resilient and more patient.’