Sensée announces 1000 new UK work-at-home contact centre jobs

Sensée is creating 500 new permanent and 500 new temporary positions to meet the growing demand from its clients for work-at-home staff.

The vacancies are for Customer Contact Advisors, Team Managers and back office staff to work for new and existing clients – including Bupa and Hastings Direct – as well as for a number of Government departments. Start dates are immediate.

Sensée is welcoming applications from people of all backgrounds, levels of experience, gender and age. Contact centre experience is preferred but not essential. Customer service and other job-specific training is provided.  

“We urgently need new home workers to help our clients support their customers through the current crisis” said Mark Walton, CEO of Sensée. “Over the coming months, homeworking will have a crucial role to play in ensuring business continuity for private sector firms, as well as the effective management of citizen and business enquiries within the public sector.” 

Candidates can apply today for the new roles at www.sensee.co.uk

Could homeworking work for you?

(Republished courtesy of disability magazine UCAN2 www.ucan2magazine.co.uk)

The current Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis has brought homeworking into sharp reality for millions of office workers. But is it a viable route into the workplace for many living with a disability?

The idea of homeworking as an option for disabled people is nothing new. Scope, for example, provides extensive support and advice https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/homeworking/ on the topic.

What has changed recently are two key things. First, there’s now a massive focus on homeworking within the boardroom – both as a disaster recovery response (with the Coronavirus already closing down transport links and forcing some office closures), and as a longer term option on productivity/ cost grounds. Second, the homeworking industry has moved on……. with more effective homeworking models, and a realisation within Corporates that homeworking is a ‘proper’ job, where people can develop rewarding careers.

The contact centre sector is a case in point. 15 years ago, few companies considered it possible to run an effective operation using homeworkers because of a multitude of technology, HR and operational issues. With experience, many of these HR and operational issues have now been resolved, and specialist virtual workplace tools – with virtual training Homeworking advisorenvironments, specialist real-time communications, and real-time management – today provide managers with real-time visibility of homeworkers so they can support and collaborate as required.

Indeed we estimate that 18% of our colleagues have some form of disability, and a further 8% are carers to people with special needs.

In the past, homeworkers were frequently either managers and top performing employees offered homeworking ‘as a reward’ or self-employed people required to create their own limited companies before supplying services. Today, homeworkers are now more likely to choose to work from home and be more experienced.

Indeed, according to the 2016 UKCCF Contact Centre Homeworking Survey, 74 per cent of homeworkers are aged 35 or over, and 66% have over 10 years experience in customer contact roles.

They also come into homeworking for a wide variety of reasons – and our company is a good example. We currently have 700 fully-employed homeworkers who deliver services for Allianz, BUPA, Hastings Direct and others. Amongst our people are work-at-home mums, many who find working in an office stressful, and others that are excluded from the normal workplace. This includes people who live in rural areas or are simply too far from the office to commute, as well as many living with a disability. Indeed we estimate that 18% of our colleagues have some form of disability, and a further 8% are carers to people with special needs.

According to the UKCCF survey, 92 per cent of homeworkers say that they are happy (at least some of the time), and 72 per cent say they are proud to tell people where they work.

The secret to providing excellent work-from-home opportunities is to ensure that everyone is treated equally and fairly, and that engagement, community and socialisation is part and parcel of the homeworking experience. Technology plays a key role here too, ensuring that teams communicate and interact efficiently and that working from home isn’t a solitary experience (unless someone wants it to be!)

Implemented effectively and homeworking can provide not only a route back into the workplace but also a fulfilling career. According to the UKCCF survey, 92 per cent of homeworkers say that they are happy (at least some of the time), and 72 per cent say they are proud to tell people where they work. As for companies, 78 per cent of organisations employing homeworkers said they expected to increase numbers in the next 12 months.

 

 

Sensée is in regular contact with organisations that support the disabled community, is a Purple Member, supports the Armed Forces Covenant, is Disability Confident Committed, and is registered with Employers for Carers.

Practical advice and tips on working from home

“Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others” said Boris Johnson on Monday (16th March) “and to stop all unnecessary travel. We need people to start working from home where they possibly can…. and avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.” On 18th March, it was announced that all UK schools would be closed ‘until further notice’.

We are in dangerous and uncertain times and few would argue with the logic of the Prime Minister’s statement. However, there’s a lot more to homeworking than simply picking up a laptop and a phone from the office and setting up from home.

Homeworking advice

If you google flexible working tips or homeworking tips or even Coronavirus work-from-home tips you’ll find plenty of helpful advice.

On 11th March, for example, The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development issued a factsheet to help businesses support their operations and workforce. ACAS too offers plenty of useful advice, drilling down into much finer detail about what Employers should consider before embarking on their homeworking journey.

Both organisations are communicating a very similar message: that you need to plan for homeworking. In a section within its factsheet entitled Develop flexible resourcing plans the CIPD recommends developing “strategies to maximise the amount of home working to prevent the spread of infection”.

Similarly in the ACAS guidance, the author sounds a note of caution: “One of the first steps for an employer is to consider whether the job is suitable for homeworking or teleworking. Many roles may be, but others may not. And while homeworking can be seen as an attractive option, it will not suit everyone. A homeworker needs to be able to cope with working on their own with little supervision.”

Plan ahead

So having a homeworking strategy is essential. When considering whether a job is suitable for homeworking, ACAS asks Employers to consider whether the role needs “team working, face-to-face supervision, equipment (installed in the home) or equipment (which can only be in the organisation’s central base).” And it suggests homeworkers ideally need to be “able to spend long periods on their own, confident working without supervision, self-disciplined and self-motivated, and able to separate work from home life.”

Is this overkill when all we’re talking about here is people working at home for a few weeks until the Coronavirus sombrero is squashed? Absolutely not!

For certain job roles and functions, switching to homeworking and doing so with scalability and cost-efficiency is highly complex.

Front and Back Office Functions

Take back or front office functions, such as your customer contact centre. It’s highly unlikely that your office-based contact centre agents can just up sticks with a computer and a phone, set up from home and carry on business-as-usual.

The demands of contact centre working means that a complete 360 degree solution is required that provides full visibility, control, engagement, and of course information security. And if an organisation is looking to operate a 100% homeworking model in the longer term, it will need to master an even broader range of skills: from recruiting the right homeworkers, to adapting a virtual mindset when it comes to training, management, scheduling, security, communication and technology.   These are not skills that can be learnt overnight.

If used as a short-term measure in the contact centre, organisations won’t have the luxury of trialling concepts and refining their work-at-home model over time.  They may have time to turn to an experienced outsourcer that uses a home-based model, adopt some specialist technology tools, or seek the advice of a homeworking consultant – but any medium or long term planning really won’t be feasible.

Here are six things to consider if you are thinking of introducing contact centre homeworking in response to Coronavirus:

  1. Communications: Pay attention to all aspects of communication. Not just company announcements but communication within teams, and real time support for advisors that may be experiencing difficulties (using virtual technologies, instant messaging etc.).
  2. Team Managers: Don’t ignore the crucial role they play in providing support and guidance. If possible, use technology to enable and deploy a system of virtual floorwalkers.
  3. Technology Support: If homeworkers are using company equipment (computers, phones), ensure you can support this equipment effectively.
  4. Appropriate Office Space: Ensure homeworkers can work from a suitable office in the home. Working and making calls from the living room with kids playing in the background, or dogs barking, just isn’t acceptable!
  5. Scheduling: Add greater flexibility into your planning schedules – such as split shifts and micro-shifts. This will enable homeworkers to fit work in around their other daily priorities (such as taking the kids to school or caring for a relative) while helping your organisation better match resources to daily peaks and troughs.
  6. Security: Consider adding extra security measures – such as restricting homeworker access to certain customer data. Also ensure you are not breaching your obligations under FCA, GDPR and other regulations.  And ensure company equipment is adequately insured for home use.

With the Government strongly suggesting that people work from home it would be good to see more advice on how organisations can do so most effectively – and avoid the pitfalls. With the expertise available, and specialist technology tools that now exist, that advice could make all the difference.

As a response to the current crisis, homeworking can deliver a more dispersed workforce with a lower single point of failure, and hence a lower risk of cross infection.  This will enable contact centres to operate as normal even if other business functions need to close down.

Sensée creates technology ecosystem for businesses to easily deploy contact centre workers at home

Homeworking specialist Sensée has launched CloudWorks™, a homeworking solution that gives organisations all the tools necessary to operate a home-based contact centre operation.

CloudWorks provides technology tools to assist with the remote management, training and co-ordination of staff working from home. It also provides communication and collaboration tools to keep remote workers supported and engaged, as well as the safeguards to ensure the most rigorous Infosec compliance. CloudWorks has ISO27001 accreditation and achieved PCI-DSS and GDPR compliance.

The solution, believed to be the only one of its kind, can be deployed remotely and will bring peace-of-mind to organisations for a fraction of the cost of other standard disaster recovery solutions requiring a secondary passive site.

CloudWorks can be deployed in as little as two weeks – even for large Enterprise deployments. Pricing is calculated on a per agent per month basis.

“The demands of contact centre operations means that a complete 360 degree solution is required that provides full visibility, control, engagement, and of course information security.”

“Homeworking is very much at the forefront of business minds due to the current global Coronavirus crisis” said Steve Mosser, Group CEO of Sensée “with organisations looking for practical solutions that ensure business can continue. For middle management, that may be as simple as ensuring all staff have a reliable computer and phone to work from home. For contact centre operations, doing so with scalability and cost-efficiency is lot more complex. The demands of contact centre operations means that a complete 360 degree solution is required that provides full visibility, control, engagement, and of course information security. CloudWorks delivers all of the above, and more, in a single easily scalable turnkey solution.”

A Complete Homeworking Ecosystem

CloudWorks is composed of four key technologies:

ASSETS™: A homeworker selection and on-boarding tool that enables employees to apply for homeworking, validate that their home office is compliant, and confirm their technology meets specifications.

LIVEDESK™: A Virtual Workplace for collaborating and communicating with homeworkers so that they are engaged and on the business pulse.

SAFEOS™: Sensée’s security framework that locks down the homeworkers’ (self-provided) computer workstation and regulates secure access to business mission-critical applications.

TEAMTONIC®: A sophisticated Scheduling and Tracking tool, tailor-made for the distributed workforce world (with support for multichannel working, split shifts, bid-swaps, real time SMS alerts etc.).

The CloudWorks ecosystem supports the entire Employee Lifecycle – from recruitment and on-boarding to scheduling, training and management – and is fully compliant with UK Employment Law.

Further information about our Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity and Peak Management services can be found here.

NI Executive Ministers announce unique 300 job investment by Sensée

Pictured (L-R) are Kevin Holland, CEO, Invest NI with deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, Minister for the Economy Diane Dodds, First Minister Arlene Foster and Rob Smale, Director, Sensée.
Pictured (L-R) are Kevin Holland, CEO, Invest NI with deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, Minister for the Economy Diane Dodds, First Minister Arlene Foster and Rob Smale, Director, Sensée

The First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill today announced 300 home based jobs in a multi-million pound investment by Sensée.

They were joined in making the announcement by Economy Minister Diane Dodds.

“The home-based work opportunities span a range of roles, including agent, manager and support levels, contributing over £5.8 million in additional salaries to our economy.” — First Minister Foster

This first-time investment into Northern Ireland by the company will see the creation of 300 work from home contact centre roles. The jobs will also provide a unique opportunity for those facing barriers to work as a result of location, personal or family circumstances.

First Minister Foster said: “We are delighted today to announce 300 new jobs for Northern Ireland. Uniquely these are not limited by geography, they are accessible to everyone no matter where they live.

“The home-based work opportunities span a range of roles, including agent, manager and support levels, contributing over £5.8 million in additional salaries to our economy.

“As an Executive we are committed to strengthening our economy and commend Invest Northern Ireland for their work to secure this significant investment.”

“We offer the security of full employment contracts with guaranteed hours and with flexibility to choose workdays and times.” — Rob Smale, Sensée Director

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “We are committed to working together to bring about prosperity for all our people. Creating employment opportunities is an important part of this, as is working to remove the barriers faced by many people to get into employment. This includes people with disabilities or caring responsibilities.

“These new jobs with Sensée provide a real option for people right across the north who will benefit from home working and give them an opportunity to get in to paid work and improve their quality of life.

“Invest NI has offered £900,000 of support towards the jobs, which the company intends to create by 2022 as it continues to grow its business.”

Sensée works with many well-known brands, including Bupa, Hastings Direct and Allianz, providing service and support for their customers.

Economy Minister, Diane Dodds said: “The contact centre industry is experiencing a lot of change and the home working model is gaining traction with more companies. As well as offering flexible working for staff this approach benefits the environment including reduced energy use and costs. It will also open up rural communities providing employment opportunities for those not able to travel to work. These benefits directly align with many of our Programme for Government objectives.”

Sensée is looking to fill the 300 positions over the coming months. Recruitment and training are both completed on-line and candidates can apply online.

Rob Smale, Sensée Director, said: “Our skilled home based service advisor team work for well-known brands on an outsourced basis, either as continuously available resources or to handle peaks in customer demand. Currently we employ about 700 staff across the UK, all of whom work from home.

“We offer the security of full employment contracts with guaranteed hours and with flexibility to choose workdays and times. There’s also no commuting, saving our people time and money, and a social element that creates great teamwork and companionship.

“Our home based advisor services are also attractive to businesses in all sectors, from healthcare to financial services and retail, with the great attitude of our homeworking team providing excellent customer service. It also reduces the carbon footprint and aligns with their corporate social responsibility aspirations.”

Sensée is looking to fill the 300 positions over the coming months. Recruitment and training are both completed on-line and candidates can apply at www.sensee.co.uk/ni-jobs