The future of work: A hybrid approach to customer experience delivery

Sitel Group® COO & Co-Founder, Olivier Camino and CEO of the Americas, Mike Small, are joined by Melissa O’Brien, Research Vice President of HFS, to discuss key trends and best practices for delivering exceptional customer experiences and optimizing business operations in a hybrid environment.


Published ·July 8, 2021

Reading time·4 min

The way we work—and where we work—has changed drastically in the past year. As we prepare for a new normal, post-pandemic world, organizations have begun rolling out their plans for getting employees back into the office. 

With 60% of staff projected to return to the office over the next year (HFS OneOffice Pulse Study 2021), businesses are rapidly shifting from the traditional model to a hybrid environment designed around social interaction, collaboration and community building. While the details vary across geography, industry and company culture, one thing is clear: the future of work is hybrid. 

Returning to reality

As we move through this period of change, organizations need to look at what this means not only for customer experience but for the people who are delivering on these customer experiences. To kick off the conversation, O’Brien breaks down the elements of a work from home model into three sections: 

  • Organizational culture – Some organizations have suffered from working remotely/not part of their company culture. 
  • Functional need – Roles and departments that depend on socialization or collaboration are eager to get back to an in-person environment.  
  • Individual preference – Where some individuals are more social creatures and miss the camaraderie, others perform better at home or may still be wary of being back in the office due to pandemic-induced fear. 

“How can we ensure that organizations are able to drive innovation in a remote or hybrid or from anywhere environment?” asks O’Brien. “Because this is going to fluctuate, this is going to change; it’s going to shift. And just being very aware of what our employees’ needs are [is important].” 

For organizations, this means supporting the creative ideas of their employees, fostering a connected culture and making sure their people have opportunities for career development. 

Adapting to a new world of work and experience

Consumer needs have also changed as a result of the pandemic, with customers demanding service that’s fast, seamless and available on the channel most convenient to them. According to our research, while 76% of consumers were initially driven towards digital interactions with brands because of COVID-19-related restrictions, 57% of customers intend to maintain this behavior because they appreciate the extra value. 

“We have really seen an acceleration of the online, the automation, the digital and the self-care during 2020 due to COVID-19,” says Camino. 

Digital transformation is also a top focus as brands find innovative ways to better serve customers, build loyalty and optimize business operations.  

At Foundever, we have adapted to the changing consumer needs and the future of work with the launch of the Foundever Hub – a hybrid co-working center focused on in-person collaboration, training and development and employee engagement. 

The Foundever Hub combines the efficiency and consistency of traditional contact services with the flexibility of work at home, built around four zones: 

  • Connection – Meet and socialize with other co-workers. 
  • Learning – Access onsite Empower Center and library for digital, self-paced and facilitated training to improve skills and develop careers. 
  • Wellbeing – Onsite gym facilities, spaces to relax, digital health and wellbeing resources and a global wellness community via EverBetter (amenities vary by location). 
  • Performance – Bring operations and support teams together in a centralized onsite performance zone. 

“They [employees] come back to the hub to connect, to be developed, to be further trained, to have face-to-face conversations with their managers and to socialize with each other,” explains Camino on the topic of enhancing the employee experience.

Strengthening the work at home model 

While today’s technology and tools allow us to work from anywhere virtually, there’s still a need for connection and collaboration because, at the end of the day, we are human. This is why our people are excited about the hub concept. 

Small shares an anecdote about the Foundever Hub launch in Barranquilla, Colombia, designed initially as a “normal” customer experience hub, or contact center. But during the pandemic, Foundever in Colombia leadership came back and requested that we adapt the plans to embrace the future. “So, we ramped the Barranquilla hub completely virtually, we ramped five customers there successfully and built out the new concept and design during the pandemic,” concludes Small.  

So, how can organizations enable this level of engagement for both their associates and their customers? At Foundever, Small explains, “It was all around getting maniacally focused on the operational playbook and continuous improvement around working and remote environments—virtual training, increased investments in technology, security, engaging our workforce in a very different manner.” 

As for our workforce, 50% of Foundever associates globally are still at home. For these associates, the Foundever Hub model (where applicable) allows them the flexibility to continue working from home with the ability to come into the hub to get trained, upskilled and to continue their professional development. 

Building a connected culture 

The foundation of successfully implementing a hybrid model starts with company culture. At Foundever, this is founded on three programs: 

  • EverBetterThe wellness program and digital platform to encourage our people to make healthier choices for a healthier body and happier mind by making #OneSmallChange.
  • MyID – Our diversity and inclusion community where we learn from one another’s experiences, enabling us to deliver unique experiences for our customers. 
  • Cxperts Challenge – Local, national and global awards that recognize the best-of-the-best, celebrated at internal employee events as well as external customer events. 

To learn more on the future of work in our whitepaper “The future of work & employee experience: How CX Everywhere delivers benefits everywhere.”