Patent published on October 5, 2023

New Patent Could Help NICE WFM Decide Who Works Where in Hybrid Offices

In an ever-increasing remote and hybrid work environment catalyzed by the global pandemic, the question of who should work in-office and who should stay remote is a real quandary many businesses have faced. A new patent, US20230316177A1, from the company NICE could offer an innovative solution to this pressing issue.

Offices, notably contact centers, often faced a situation where there is a limited capacity to accommodate their workforce on-site. This dilemma was further amplified by situations where the government or the organization itself enacted restrictions on the number of people in the office, due to health-related concerns. The challenge is to find an optimized blend of remote and on-site working, considering various factors, such as agents' skills, performance, and personal preferences for work location.

The patent put forward by NICE presents a software solution, tailored for use in their Workforce Management (WFM) program, to address this predicament. The software assesses the skills and performance of each agent and prioritizes who should be working from the office. It first tries to allocate the office space available and then assigns the remaining workforce to work from home, optimizing for skill sets that render better results in an office environment.

Solving this problem with the aid of technology could enhance productivity for many organizations. Operational efficiency could increase as the application promotes an optimal mix of agents in various work settings. Businesses could tailor their working models to fit employees' needs closely, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover. The tangible, real-world applications of this invention are evident, particularly in large contact centers that operate on a global scale, frequently juggling numerous agents across multiple shifts in various locations.

The effectiveness of this prioritizing application has been detailed through a series of figures, including workflow diagrams and table representations of skill allocation. In the illustrations, users can see practical examples of the software in action, such as calculating an agent's productivity for remote work, displaying a prioritized list of agents for office work and health check questionnaires for employees.

However, it is important to note that this is purely a patent at this stage. Its appearance on the market is still uncertain, and its practical implementation may undergo modifications. Despite this, the potential benefits of such an innovation could reshape the landscape of hybrid workspaces.

P.S.: As is the nature of patents, the future of this invention is yet uncertain. It is entirely possible that this method may never come to fruition. However, should it make its way into the market, the patent could signal a significant shift in how companies navigate the increasingly prevalent hybrid workspace.

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