Homeworking best practice and benchmarking workshops support UK business


We regularly run one day best practice and benchmarking homeworking workshopsto support UK businesses that want to benefit from homeworking for voice as well as digital customer service.

The workshops are designed to help optimise existing homeworking operations or successfully implement new ones. Led by our senior homeworking experts, they cover:

  • How to benchmark a current approach and future homeworking plans
  • Best practices for everything from recruitment to IT and scheduling
  • The many benefits that contact centre homeworking has brought for businesses in all industries

We’re passionate about homeworking and — as specialists working with companies in all sectors from financial services to utilities and retail for over 15 years — have a lot of experience to share.

The workshops are open to both public as well as private sector organisations, and we’ve had great feedback from leading UK contact centres including Nationwide, Sky, M&S, HMRC and Budget Insurance. 

If you’d like to come along to the next event, take a look at the workshops page where you’ll find out more about the date, location and what’s covered.

Sensée homeworking communities engage and connect

We think that providing opportunities for engagement, communities and socialisation is part and parcel of creating great work from home jobs. And, that working from home isn’t a solitary experience unless you want it to be — some of our people do choose it for the peace and quiet!

At Sensée we have a community and socialisation programme that connects everyone through positive engagement. It’s supported by our technology platform, that joins our teams together by allowing communication as well as interaction, and is actively managed throughout the year.

So far this year just some of the successful projects in the programme include:

Mental health week

For this we focused on providing information, throughout the week, on where support can be found as well as the impact of mental health issues. We also covered how we’ve created practical ways to help our community with improving life-work balance, reducing stress and managing anxiety.

National Carers week

8% of our team are carers and this project looked at how we could support them with information and help from various institutions. We also created a Sensée Carer Support Community. This provides a support network for carers and a voice for how we can best cater for their specific needs.

ex-Military and Military Spouses, Maternity Leavers and Disability groups

These groups have also been created to give support and understanding for people within our homeworking community that may also have special requirements.

All the effort, from community leaders and moderators to team leaders and managers, put into the projects, is making home a better place to work.

Overall the positive impact of the programme is reflected in the fact that our people are happy to stay with us for much longer than the industry average.

Better engagement, and the long length of time that people stay, is also something that means the standard of care our clients’ customers receive is high (we consistently provide industry-high standards). Our continued engagement, community and socialisation work will only add to this in future.

Energy provider SSE get homeworking on the grid with Sensée outsource services and cloud technology platform

This month saw our homeworking outsource services and platform come on-line for SSE. They’re part of the SSE Group, one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing energy companies.

With over 20,000 team members, at more than 150 locations, they’re a significant employer throughout the UK. Their diverse range of operations provides opportunities for people with a variety of skills and those looking for an exciting career change.

SSE is also dedicated to local communities and through their sponsorship programmes and volunteering projects, their aiming to put something back into the areas where they work.

Our outsource service advisor teams, and scalable cloud technology platform, has helped SSE bring homeworking on the grid in double quick time.

Currently, we have over 100 advisors providing general enquiry services for the major utility.

The project is also helping to support SSE’s long-term objective to have their own people working from home using the Sensée technology platform.

Hello Legal and General — Sensée continues to grow with UK’s top life assurance provider

This month we’re delighted to say hello to well-known financial services brand Legal and General.

Legal and General are a top 20 global asset manager and the UK’s largest provider of individual life assurance products.

Founded in 1836, they’ve grown into one of Europe’s largest insurance and asset management groups, with over £1 trillion in assets.

They aim to be economically and socially useful — improving the lives of their customers, building a better society for the long term and creating value for shareholders.

Their business is divided into six segments, which are focussed on delivering protection, retirement, solutions, savings and investment management for our customers.

Right now, we’re providing outsource customer service help for several different lines of business. And, as homeworking is now part of their customer service strategy, they’re looking to expand its use across more parts of their organisation over the coming years.

We’re looking forward to creating more work from home jobs to meet their needs soon.

Hastings Direct tackle flexibility and difficult working hours with Sensée homeworking

Over the last few months we’ve been working closely with Hastings Direct, helping them to set up a new outsource customer services homeworking operation.

They’re one of the UK’s fastest growing general insurance providers — offering a range of competitive and straightforward products and services including carbikevan as well as home insurance. They also provide additional insurance services such as breakdown cover and family legal protection.

Hastings has a proud 20-year history. Since selling their first policy in 1997, they’ve been committed to their colleagues, customers, company as well as communities. They also regularly support charity and educational causes in their local communities of Bexhill-on-Sea and Leicester.

A major UK financial services provider, they have over 2.7million live customer policies and 3,300 colleagues.

Our Hastings Direct homeworking team of 120 service and sales advisors cover all operational hours. This includes the challenging times of early mornings, evenings and weekends as well as volatile peaks during the day.

We’re thrilled to be helping them tackle these key customer service challenges. And, supporting their multi-award business that has achieved Defaqto 5-star ratings for home and car insurance over the last 4 years.

4 financial services clients and counting — who said outsource homeworking wouldn’t work for the money men?

We’re not allowed to say who yet, but this month we started working for another financial services client. This time it’s one of the fastest growing, best known and most forward-thinking names in consumer insurance.

Ten years ago I was told that homeworking wouldn’t work for the money men. “It’s too risky, against the regulations and never going to work with our IT” — just some of the reasons I heard time and again.

Never one to be swayed by opinion alone, I thought we could show homeworking would work well for this the most tightly regulated and cost competitive sector. If it worked for financial services, any other sector would also be a snap.

Fast forward to 2018 — our FCA approval, ISO accreditation and secure technology platform means we’ve just started working with our 4th financial services client. All were convinced by the service, cost and corporate social responsibility benefits of homeworking, and saw no problems with using it.

In the end, the barriers we faced were nothing to do with people, technologies or process — it was just plain old resistance to change.

With so many benefits for people and organisations, homeworking is now fast becoming the norm. I’m looking forward to welcoming the next four financial services clients very soon.

Our new home

The paint has dried, the grass has been laid (in the meeting room), and the kettle’s been unpacked. We’re now settled in the Clockwork Building in Ravenscourt Park — southwest London.

The refurbished building — designed by architect Richard Sieffert and built on the site of the famous International Time Recording company — has been transformed and provides us with communal gardens, break-out areas as well as a terrace on the roof with views across London!

Our new home gives the central team more space, and room to expand, as we continue to deliver exceptional service for our existing clients, develop our services, find new customers and grow as a business.

If you’re passing, just let us know if you want to drop in for a cup of tea on the meeting room lawn.

Will using gig economy workers damage your brand?

New study by YouGov for Sensée shows 39% of consumers concerned about companies using gig economy workers

The voices heard most loudly in the gig economy discussion so far have been those of employees, employers and the government.

As a customer service business, we thought it would be useful to discover what consumers think as well. You have to look no further than Primark and Sports Direct to see how unpopular employment practices negatively affected their brand reputation, customer satisfaction and sales.

Are consumers indifferent on the issue of gig economy workers, and happy to continue with businesses that use them? Or, is there real concern that could begin to put customers off? We asked well-known pollsters YouGov to find out.

Half of consumers aware of the gig economy

Although the gig economy has had a lot of publicity, there still seems to be a lack of awareness of what it really is and how it works. Only 50% of the 2,033 respondents agreed that they knew about the gig economy – in fact only 17% strongly agreed with the statement “I know about the gig economy and what the possible implications may be for workers, businesses and public services.”

“Only 17% strongly agreed with the statement “I know about the gig economy and what the possible implications may be for workers, businesses and public services.”

This was reflected across all the different demographic segments within the survey and results were similar amongst factors such as age and employment status. Few of the significant differences were in social classes (57% ABC1 vs 41% C2DE) and across areas of the country (London 61% vs. Midlands 41%), however there was a significant gender difference (Male 54% and Female 46%).

This could be due to the proliferation of higher profile services in the South East and conurbations, but it is surprising that there isn’t an even higher awareness amongst millennials as this demographic is widely thought to be both suppliers to, and consumers of, the ‘on demand’ economy.

Most wouldn’t want to be a gig economy worker

The survey highlighted a general reluctance amongst the general public to work in the gig economy. Only 27% agreed that “they would be happy to be self-employed and work as part of the gig economy, as either a main or supplementary source of income,” with 41% disagreeing and a further third (31%) undecided.

Only 27% of respondents agreed that “they would be happy to be self-employed and work as part of the gig economy, as either a main or supplementary source of income.”

For the people that said that they knew about the gig economy and how it works, the responses were polarised, with 33% saying that they would be happy to work in the gig economy, but with 49% disagreeing. These responses don’t vary significantly by gender but, unsurprisingly, 18-24 year olds are more likely to be happy to be self-employed and work as part of the gig economy (33%). However, this tails off as people get older with only 25% of 55+ respondents stating that they would be happy to do so.

This response – i.e. more people saying they wouldn’t work in the gig economy than would – remains steady across pretty much all the other demographic splits except for two potentially interesting areas. Firstly, people who are currently out of work, but don’t classify themselves as unemployed (34%), and secondly, those who have children under 5 (34%), are the few segments in which more people would work in the gig economy than wouldn’t.

This could be a very important finding and one that maybe goes against a prevailing argument that the majority of people currently working in the gig economy do so out of choice. People who are out of work but don’t classify themselves as unemployed could represent a group of eminently employable people who may be unable to conform with the requirements of a ‘normal’ job, but who still want to work. Similarly, parents with children under 5, maybe constrained by the responsibilities of caring for small children, still want to or need to work, but require the flexibility around working hours and/or location that gig economy work offers.

Considerable concern about companies using gig economy workers

We also asked people what they thought of the companies that employed people on this basis and the results were pretty unequivocal with 39% agreeing that they were “concerned about using companies that employ/commission gig economy workers,” and only 17% disagreeing with that statement and a further 45% undecided or don’t know. Again, the impact of awareness is important, and the 39% that agreed to that statement further increased to 52% for those people who responded that they were aware of the gig economy.

39% agreed that they were “concerned about using companies that employ/commission gig economy workers.”

One of the most significant differences in responses were when segmenting by age, where 32% of 18-24 year olds agreed, compared to 43% of those aged 55 or over. Whilst this is likely to be a true reflection of their concerns, it may be because as consumers, they could likely be swayed by a lower price and increased convenience more often than not.

Good for businesses, bad for workers

More people agreed (33%) than not (20%) that “the gig economy was good for UK businesses and organisations,” but that at the same time more people agreed that “the gig economy is bad for people who choose to be gig economy workers” (34% v 16%).  Further, a majority of respondents believed that gig economy workers should have the same benefits as traditional workers (access to public services, benefits and pensions) (55%) even if they contributed less, proportionately, in tax and national insurance and that the “UK government should do more to protect the rights of gig economy workers” (68%).

More people agreed (33%) than not (20%) that “the gig economy was good for UK businesses and organisations,” but that at the same time more people agree that “the gig economy is bad for people who choose to be gig economy workers” (34% v 16%).

These potentially conflicting viewpoints, start to unravel the crux of the problem in that if there are three parties involved, companies, governments and workers, the rewards and costs of the gig economy are not currently being shared equally. If you add in a fourth party, the customer, it could be argued that companies and customers are the ones that benefit and reap the rewards, while the government, in reduced tax and national insurance income, and workers, with reduced income, security and rights, are bearing the cost.

About the research

The research was conducted by YouGov for Sensée on 1-2 June 2017. The sample size was 2033 adults (18+) from across Great Britain. The surveys were conducted online and the results have been weighted to the profile of all GB adults (18+). The worst-case margin of error is ± 2.2% at a 95% confidence level.

The gig economy: what needs to change?

Steve Mosser, CEO, Sensée writes for Work Wise Week

Steve Smile V2

Hardly a day goes by without an article on the gig-economy appearing in the media. And from high-profile court cases brought by workers that object to the lack of employment rights and benefits, to stories of individuals who are living happier, more fulfilling lives because of it, the gig economy is sure to provoke strong – often polarised – points of view.

According to the CIPD, 4% of working adults aged between 18 and 70 are working in the gig economy, with approximately 1.3 million people now working two jobs or more. Often referred to as “slashies” – think waiter/delivery driver, make-up artist/blogger and gardener/Uber driver – many choose to work this way, enjoying the freedom, variety and flexibility that this way of working brings. But others do it out of necessity when, for instance, they cannot secure a full-time job with a sufficient income (and benefits) to support a family.

Consulting firm McKinsey estimates that 20-30% of the working age population in the EU-15 engage in independent work, and has come up with a great way of categorising worker motivations, which essentially boil down to choice and necessity. 30% of gig economy workers are ‘free agents’ who actively choose independent work and derive their primary income from it. Approximately 40% are ‘casual earners,’ who use independent work for supplemental income and do so by choice. ‘Reluctants,’ who make their primary living from independent work but would prefer traditional jobs, make up 14%. And the ‘financially strapped’ who do supplemental work out of necessity, account for 16%.

This ‘gig’ way of working is set to increase rapidly as digital platforms increasingly connect supply with demand. And clearly, this, and other external factors: consumer preference, particularly as millennials enter the workplace, as well as economic factors, will all impact the ‘choice vs. necessity’ split.

I recognise that many people choose to work this way, and that they are happy with what they ‘get out of it’. I also recognise that organisations need innovation and agility to compete effectively. However, I am concerned for those that work this way out of necessity; often people in low paid and unrewarding jobs, taking on risk through disguised self-employment. And I’m also concerned that the UK economy is missing out on the income that it genuinely needs to provide protection and opportunity for an expanding population.

Many contractors working gig-economy–type jobs lack healthcare and retirement benefits, are at the mercy of their employers’ scheduling needs and, despite being promised flexible hours, find themselves little more than glorified service workers. As it stands today, some people are being pushed into jobs that neither offer fair pay and protection nor dependable hours – in fact, some workers are faced with an employment outlook that is more precarious than it’s been in decades. Has the gig economy created an employment model that robs workers of the rights they’ve earned over more than a century of fighting?

Furthermore, while some organisations undeniably benefit from this economic model, others find it harder to compete, as they choose to employ people, and this comes at a price in terms of NI contributions and other onerous operating costs.

We need to seriously examine how the gig economy is regulated. The courts have gone some way, as shown in the recent Uber and Deliveroo cases, and it’s been helpful that we’ve seen some decisions, but what we need is a better clarification from the government around what constitutes employment, worker and self-employed status; first then, can we start to change things for the better.

Technology and new business models are creating opportunities, but also challenges for UK employment legislation. There is a strong case for Government to act to both proactively help organisations adapt their working practices and to clarify employment status, so that workers get the benefits they are entitled to and that the correct national insurance and taxation contributions are paid. This may well mean a brand new classification, alongside employed and self-employed statuses, as this would better represent the way the world is moving.

Only then can we embrace this inevitable disruption, and ensure that the gig economy can deliver innovation and flexibility to employers, fair working rights and protection to individuals, and economic benefits to the United Kingdom. After all, the gig-economy isn’t going anywhere so it all boils down to making it fairer for all concerned.

HR News: CEO commentary on Amazon’s homeworking announcement

In response to Amazon’s announcement that the company will hire up to 5,000 home-based customer service agents, CEO of Sensée, Steve Mosser, commented in HR News:

At Sensée, we welcome Amazon’s announcement. Although this is restricted to the US for the time being, the fact that Amazon is not only embracing homeworking but that the positions come with employee benefits, including sick and holiday pay, will hopefully encourage others to build on strong social foundations. This shows both courage and thought leadership, as it addresses the issues the gig-economy has brought into the job market where people are given no option other than to accept false self-employed with no guarantees of work, income and benefits.Read the article