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What’s next for the switchboard?

How businesses plan to keep call service levels high while tackling changed roles, flexible working, and social distancing as we get back into the workplace.


Businesses moved their workforces from office or premises-based to home-based at breakneck speed last year. Broadly this has been successful, but we have seen casualties in the form of communications – particularly the switchboard.

The truth is that so many businesses didn’t have continuity plans in place, certainly not for a global pandemic.

We wanted to understand more about what facilities managers and operations directors’ plans were to running their switchboards once more staff return to their respective offices and workplaces.

Our survey results show a knee-jerk reaction to sudden remote switchboard management with some surprising ‘solutions’ to the problem:

These obviously cannot be long-term means of handling incoming calls.

We wanted to know how they would tackle the new changes and challenges of running an effective switchboard in a post-COVID workspace such as:

  • How will they socially distance their switchboard team?
  • What effects do they think the changes will have on their caller’s experience?
  • Do they think their switchboard will be busy once people are back in the office?

We were also curious to understand how FMs plan to approach the subject of hybrid working. With so many businesses now offering the ability to continue working from home – either some or all of the time – this could affect the quality of their call handling.

Interestingly, the results were split fairly evenly, although it’s early in the journey of getting back to the office en masse, and this could well change:

Whatever happens, we know that businesses cannot turn their temporary fixes into permanent solutions. Calls are such a vital part of running a business – 56% of businesses state it’s their principle communication channel.

This report aims to inform FMs, operations directors and business leaders about how they could best manage this vital part of business infrastructure – the switchboard – in this unpredictable time.

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