As work life resumes across the country, here at CCI South Africa we’re introducing new measures to keep our Durban call centre agents safe at work.

Durban call centre agents – new safety measures at CCI South Africa

While office spaces were closed during the peak lockdown phase many companies like ours were busy putting plans in place for people to return to work.

And in early April we implemented our work readiness plan to help employees get back to work safely.  A large team, ranging from Health and Safety, Facilities, Risk & Compliance, Learnings & Development & Operations, have built a very thorough plan ensuring our CCI team can return to work delivering essential services, in a healthy and safe environment.

CCI South Africa’s Managing Director Mark Chana says: “It’s been a really uncertain time for everyone in South Africa and around the world lately. Coronavirus and the lockdown are having an impact on people’s mental and physical health. They are worried about their health and safety, as well as the economic impact.

“We knew early on in the pandemic that we needed to ensure a healthy and safe place for people to return to work and to be able to provide job security. The health and safety of our Durban call centre agents is priority number one so that they feel comfortable coming back into the office to look after our customers. As is reassuring them about their job security. And that’s why we have implemented our cohesive return to work plan.”

CCI South Africa Call Centre with social distancing

Social distancing at the CCI South Africa Durban call centre

Working in our call centre post-lockdown

We reopened our call centre doors in mid-April, with less than 30% capacity (that’s around 2,500 agents) working in our buildings. This was to ensure we adhered to all relevant legislation and social distancing requirements (whilst we also implemented a large work from home team). And this is now our ‘new normal’ health and safety protocol:

Getting into and out of the building:

  • We have 1 entrance and 1 exit into every building.
  • People enter via the car park (socially distanced, with tape to divide the flow and floor markings spaced two metres apart).
  • Their temperature is taken, they show their ID, and they provide all their details, including a questionnaire.
  • This enables us to establish how they travelled into work, who with, how they’re feeling and determine any risk before people are allowed into the building.
  • If there is any risk, they are referred to our on-site nurse in a quarantined area and screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If there is no risk, people sign in to work for the day and enter the building via the entrance.
  • At this point, people have sanitized their hands 3 times already.

In the building:

  • Once people are in the building, only 2 people are allowed into the lift at one time, and they stand in marked areas which are socially distanced on either side of each lift.
  • Security guards and CCTV monitor the lift to ensure compliance – for everyone’s safety.
  • Once on the main floor, people then go to their desks which are now adapted work bays with dividers.
  • Each bay ensures people are at least 1.5 metres apart and that they are facing away from each other.
  • Our Health & Safety Representatives play an active role in ensuring the environment is healthy and safe.
  • Every 4 hours everyone has their temperature checked. If it’s 38°C or higher, they are asked to visit the on-site clinic for screening.
  • The whole area is cleaned and re-sanitized regularly throughout the day.
  • All canteens and sports facilities are closed for people’s safety.
  • There is a ‘roving’ food facility for people to buy food and drink at their desks.
  • Everyone leaves the building via one exit, while socially distancing, following the same process as they did to enter the building.
  • There is a phased approach at the start and end of shifts so that people leave the building safely.

Social distancing at the CCI South Africa Durban call centre

Agents ‘at risk’:

  • If anyone is deemed to be at risk of coronavirus, they’re referred to our on-site nurse in a quarantined area and screened. We have a traffic light system operating and take the appropriate action, depending on the contact they’ve had with other at-risk people during their day – following very strict guidelines.
  • If identified as ‘Red risk’ then they’re asked to return home and quarantine for 14 days.
  • If Amber, they are asked to maintain self-quarantine while on site (reducing risks to others) and to self-monitor for any symptoms developing. If symptoms do develop, they are asked to visit the on-site clinic for screening and to see their GP.
  • If Green, they’re considered to be low risk. This is where someone may have worked in the same floor or area as a person being tested. A low risk will be monitored through daily declaration and advised to continue adhering to the precautions (hygiene practices, wearing masks and social distancing).

Working from home:

Working with our client partners, we’re mitigating risk with a mix of work from office and work from home agents.  If people need to work from home, we support them with a dedicated team who provide a ‘work from home’ kit, and IT support.

We have nearly 1,500 people working from home, which prior to COVID-19, was zero.

Social distancing at the CCI South Africa Durban call centre

Working in a Durban call centre post-lockdown

So, what does this look and feel like for CCI’s teams right now?

“I think like in any work environment in this situation we have a real mix. Some people are very happy to get back to work and feel comfortable and safe in the new environment. Others are apprehensive or not worried at all. And all of those feelings are normal under the circumstances, “ says Mark.

“Many smaller call centres here have shut down, so we’re fortunate that we are still operating and providing employment for so many.

“Our robust processes and testing are reassuring any partners (customers) that initially voiced concerns about people returning to the office that it is safe to do so.

“This is the ‘new normal’ for the time being, and we will continue to work with our people and partners to ensure everyone is safe at work.”