Managing Homeworking Teams
. tips from our experts on the Sensée frontline: Week 2

Over our last three weeks we’ve brought you a selection of work-from-home tips and advice from the SensĂ©e frontline.  We hope you’ve found them useful.  In this final post of the series, we’re pleased to bring you a selection of management tips from our Team Managers.

How do you:

Ensure your team thinks and acts like a team (when people are sometimes living hundreds of miles apart?)……

“Create friendly competition between teams by comparing KPIs and QA scores.  Encourage a team orientation rather than concentrating on individual performance”.

David, Sensée Team Leader

Support team members with stressful situations……

“We use weekly coaching sessions to identify stressful issues that team members may face and put the necessary support in place. That could range from catching up more often, through to reaching out to HR.”

Sarah, Sensée Team Leader

Support team members struggling with complex customer questions…..

“The use of breakouts within Team Rooms is very helpful as you can screen share and talk through issues to give a better understanding.”

Kelly, Sensée Team Leader

Bring a sense of fun and togetherness to the working day….

“Regularly send out emails to your team to update them on performance. Call out any special achievements and give praise where people are excelling. Mirror this in the Team Room with regular praise and encourage new advisors to lean on more experienced advisors for support”

Kelly, Sensée Team Leader

Make virtual training sessions more fun and engaging…..

“When designing group coaching/ training sessions use lots of open questions so that everyone has the chance to speak. Use microphones so that everyone can talk rather than type. Some team members are naturally quieter than others so make sure you have a good mix for each session.”

Steph, Sensée Team Leader

Maintain effective communications with team members….

“Always acknowledge receipt of a request. While I always aim to respond to emails the same day, it is still important for remote team members to know that I’ve received their question and am working on a response.”

Sarah, Sensée Team Leader

Show trust to people working remotely….

“Ask different team members to deliver training sessions. It’s not always easy to give extra responsibility in the homeworking environment so anything where that is possible is really useful in creating mutual trust and respect.”

Kelly, Sensée Team Leader

Support people through the (sometimes difficult) first few months of their homeworking journeys….

“Put together a library of short training videos to deliver refreshers for new starters on systems, procedures and processes.”

David, Sensée Team Leader

Enhance job satisfaction……

“Ensure there are plenty of opportunities for progression from providing support on the SensĂ©e live desk, to call listening, providing feedback to other advisers, to become a deputy team leader with increased responsibility.”

Sarah, Sensée Team Leader

Run activities designed to help stem potential isolation….

“At this time of uncertainty, I’m running more group coaching sessions. A recent one focussed on wellbeing. Every team member was able to share their thoughts and feelings and many team members sent feedback that it was really useful to hear that other members on the team were having the same concerns.”

Steph, Sensée Team Leader

Managing Homeworking Teams
. tips from our experts on the Sensée frontline: Week 1

For the last two weeks, we’ve been running home working tips from SensĂ©e’s front line Advisors.  This week, we’ve turned to our Team Leaders for tips and advice on how to manage work-from-home teams and individuals.  We hope you find them useful.

How do you:

Ensure your team thinks and acts like a team (when people are sometimes living hundreds of miles apart?)……

“Engage and interact positively with colleagues within a virtual Team Room environment.  Within our Team Room, everyone has their pictures up so you can put a face to a name. This also helps create the team vibe. Encourage competition amongst teams and members, and positive reinforcement, with KPIs.”

Kelly, Sensée Team Leader

Support team members with stressful situations……

“Use a buddy mentoring system where more experienced team members can virtually sit beside new advisors and act as mentors.”

David, Sensée Team Leader

Support team members struggling with complex customer questions…..

“When faced with tricky or complex problems, it’s vitally important that advisors can get real time support from managers and colleagues – which they can within our SensĂ©e Livedesk environment.”

David, Sensée Team Leader

Bring a sense of fun and togetherness to the working day….

“Hold small group coaching sessions, regularly changing attendees so that each team member gets the chance to speak. Include pictures, GIFs etc. to add in something fun. The team Yammer group also helps bring a sense of fun and togetherness.”

Steph, Sensée Team Leader

Make virtual training sessions more fun and engaging…..

“Involve the participants! Ask team members to give their thoughts and observations, and always ask lots of questions for them to respond to via chat. Use a combination of Powerpoint slides, photos and videos to make the sessions visually stimulating.”

Sarah, Sensée Team Leader

Maintain effective communications with team members….

“Say good morning every day and encourage an open door policy where advisors feel you are approachable. Human is key.”

Kelly, Sensée Team Leader

Show trust to people working remotely….

“Give team members the space to work on their own tasks, while monitoring the use of non-call taking statuses. Ensure you maintain the right balance between giving the team trust and freedom while ensuring they meet (and hopefully exceed) KPIs.”

Steph, Sensée Team Leader

Support people through the (sometimes difficult) first few months of their homeworking journeys….

“Ideally, have a catch-up on the first day a new starter comes across to the account. Introduce yourself and let them know how they can ask for help, when their first coaching session will be, and other essential information.

Sarah, Sensée Team Leader

Enhance job satisfaction……

“Celebrate the little things 😊 In their annual reviews, team members are asked to set goals for the new year. During each monthly review, we then talk over how things are progressing and celebrate the victories. When daily/ weekly stats are emailed out, I personally follow up with an email to any team member who has achieved a sea of green”.

Steph, Sensée Team Leader

Run activities designed to help stem potential isolation….

“Run social events with plenty of fun games and competitions. We’ve run everything from Movie Bingo to Christmas & Easter competitions, and webcam dancing. We run polls within our Livedesk environment to get people’s preferences on what activities they’d like and to encourage participation.”

Sarah, Sensée Team Leader

Homeworking Tips
. from our experts on the Sensée frontline: Week 2

Thanks for the excellent feedback to last week’s work-from-home tips and advice from our Team Managers and Advisors.  Here’s some additional tips.  Hope you find them useful.

How do you:

Separate your home and work life……

“My office (the spare bedroom) is my work life. When I leave it, I treat it as if I’m leaving work.”

Petra, Sensée HomeAgent

………. organise your workspace?

“Workspace is very important to me. It has to be clear of clutter and in the right place in the office. I move my desk to suit the seasons: Summer I sit facing the window, Winter I sit next to the radiator under the window.”

Ginny, Sensée Co-ordinator

………. maintain your health and fitness?

“In nice weather I sit in the garden or have a potter around the block. I live in the Lake District so am lucky because I get to enjoy a wilderness walk within 5 mins of my house. In the Spring I can watch the lambs being born at the bottom of my garden.”

Janet, Sensée Services Adviser

………. not end up snacking all day!?

“Get fruit and vegetables. Cut apples, oranges, carrots etc. into small pieces so that you can snack healthily during the day” 😄

Izabela, Sensée Services Adviser

………. motivate yourself?

“Finish work at 2, in the garden by 10 past 2 (usually asleep in the sun by 2.15), no time wasted on commuting, now that’s motivation for you 🙂.”

Zoe, Sensée Services Adviser

………. optimise your working environment (chair/desk/lighting etc.)?

“Eliminate desk clutter, arrange screens at prime viewing angles, and have relevant equipment handy on hooks within easy reach. Preferably use 100 watt equivalent lightbulbs.”

Jacob, Sensée Services Adviser

………. improve your work-life-balance?

“I use to commute two hours to London each day, and back again, so my work day could be as much as 12 hours. Working from home, I’m working 8 hours, zero travel….. can’t be bad 🙂”

Bev, Sensée Services Adviser

………. manage distractions?

“Working at home has always been easy for me but a lot has changed in the last few weeks with my husband now working from home, and my daughter needing to do her school work.  It has reinforced the importance of having a separate office area and not working in your living space. It’s also important to plan a schedule for the day/week to provide structure and get dressed so you can tell yourself you mean business!”

Amanda, Sensée Team Leader

………. decide what to wear?

“Getting properly dressed for work – even into baggy and comfy stuff – helps headspace.” 

Kimberley, Sensée home-based Adviser

………. and what do you do during your breaks, and at lunch?

“During lunch and breaks I catch up on housework, eat meals and relax. I minimise screen time to give my eyes a rest.”

Jade, Sensée Services Adviser

MORE TIPS TO FOLLOW NEXT WEEK!

Homeworking Tips…. from our experts on the SensĂ©e frontline

Coronavirus is forcing organisations to rapidly change and adapt to new disciplines and business models.  Amongst the most significant of these is home working.

In a new weekly feature, we’ll be providing topical tips and advice from Team Managers and Advisors on the SensĂ©e frontline to help organisations make a success of home working.  We hope you find them useful.

How do you separate your home and work life…..

“Journey to work is not just a physical distance to travel but a mental one too. Allow enough time before your shift to prepare for the day ahead.”

Jennifer, Sensée Services Adviser

…… organise your workspace?

“Make sure your office area is a nice place to work. Decorate with bright colours, flowers etc. You are spending a lot of time there so it needs to be bright and comfortable.”

Bev, Sensée Services Adviser

…… maintain your health and fitness?

“Even though I work from home I still ‘walk to work’. So I leave my front door every morning – which ensures no jimjams – and take a brisk mile or two walk around the block. I then arrive at work oxygenated and ready to rock.”

Nick, Sensée Services Adviser

…… not end up snacking all day!?

“Bring snacks! There is nobody else in the ‘office’ to steal them!”

Ryan, Sensée Services Adviser

…… motivate yourself?

“If you are honest, with a good work ethic, then home working will pose no issues.  If you use work for ‘social’ then you may struggle. So ensure you are part of chat groups to keep up with news, gossip etc.”

Sharon, Sensée Services Adviser

…… optimise your working environment?

“Have plants in the office. I have a venus flytrap called Audrey.  Taking care of her is part of my daily routine.”

Janet, Sensée Services Adviser

…… improve your work-life-balance? 

“I have a separate desk in a separate room in a quiet part of the house.  I get up, get showered, dressed and put on a wee bit of make-up (can’t do anything without my lippy!).  I leave the kitchen after brekki and off to the office.  Blu tack a ‘do not enter’ sign to the office door (important to let the family know my shifts and my breaks so they are respectful and quiet whilst I’m on shift).  When it’s time for a break I am pretty much guaranteed they’ll meet me in the kitchen with a coffee and a toastie.  A tik tok dance with my daughter ensures I definitely switch off for a wee while at lunchtime!”

Alison, Sensée Services Adviser

…… manage distractions? 

“If you now find yourself with other family members in the house, work out a solution for internet access that won’t interfere with your work. We are using an old android phone as a wifi hotspot with a pay-as-you-go SIM.  It gives my son sufficient broadband to do his school work and video chat with his friends.”

Denise, Sensée Services Adviser

…… decide what to wear? 

“I look in the wardrobe for something that speaks to me.”

Gill, Sensée Services Adviser

…… and what do you do during your breaks, and at lunch?

“Breaks are a great time to fit in the household chores that you usually save up all week. Hoovering, preparing the tea…. anything really so that when you finish work you have nothing to do.  It makes you organise your free time more effectively.”

Zoe, Sensée Services Adviser

MORE TIPS TO FOLLOW NEXT WEEK!

Why Homeworking is the Way Forward for Customer Interaction in the Current Crisis and Beyond

(Republished courtesy of Enghouse Interactive)

In light of many organisations having to work from home due to the current crisis, Enghouse spoke to Mark Walton, CEO at Sensée, a 100% homeworking operation that delivers customer communication services for leading brands across the UK, on how their approach is resonating strongly with businesses in these difficult times.

Gearing up for homeworking

Every business across the UK has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and with the government’s recent advice that people, where possible, should start working from home we have seen makeshift offices spring up in dining rooms, bedrooms and studies throughout the UK. Many have got up and running quickly, working over VPNs, and communicating via mobile and video conference calls with their colleagues and customers.

Many organisations will find the benefits of homeworking around flexibility and scalability are compelling, even while the circumstances in which they made the move were serious and concerning.

It is not as simple as that of course – businesses need to think about issues like team management, scheduling, security and IT support. Yet, many organisations will find the benefits of homeworking around flexibility and scalability are compelling, even while the circumstances in which they made the move were serious and concerning.

Many businesses have considered homeworking – and been attracted by the benefits – but largely put it on the back burner. The current crisis has accelerated those moves immensely, however, with thousands of companies seeking out practical and easy to implement solutions, as well as practical tips and advice.

Finding the right answer in a crisis and in calmer times

When you shift the conversation away from organisations in general and onto contact centre operations, our area of specialisation, the range of potential benefits are arguably even more compelling. Social distancing is an issue in a packed office with tens or hundreds of contact centre agents – not so in a home environment.

When it comes to the COVID-19 crisis, like most companies, we have colleagues who have been affected. Given our homeworking environment though, our levels of absence are less than the average business, and interest in our homeworking solutions is higher than ever. The last few weeks have been extremely busy as we ramp up our outsourcing operation to support both existing and new clients, bringing on hundreds of new advisors as we do so.

The last few weeks have been extremely busy as we ramp up our outsourcing operation to support both existing and new clients, bringing on hundreds of new advisors as we do so.

Keeping our clients’ customer contact operations up and running at times of crisis is helping them reassure their customers that it is ‘business as usual’, as well as enabling them to deal with peaks in demand and keep customers informed and updated with relevant information.

Homeworking is also great for Employee Engagement. It is a flexible approach that can offer staff a better work-life balance, enabling them to fit their hours around existing commitments such as the school run or caring for an elderly parent. Homeworking also opens up opportunities for people who can’t access the normal office. 18% of the SensĂ©e workforce are people who live with a disability, with a further 8% carers to people with special needs.

Overall, trends are very positive

Moving a contact centre operation to a home environment isn’t easy, however, and needs to be carefully planned in order for businesses to fully reap the rewards. Recruiting, managing and training staff all need to be carefully handled with a ‘virtual mindset’. The technology used will also be critically important.

Homeworking is also great for Employee Engagement. It is a flexible approach that can offer staff a better work-life balance, enabling them to fit their hours around existing commitments such as the school run or caring for an elderly parent.

At SensĂ©e we use Enghouse Interactive’s Contact Centre Service Provider (CCSP) as a key solution to manage our multichannel customer contact operation. It offers a true cloud-based contact centre capability which gives our clients the flexibility they need to run an agile business. The solution also dovetails and integrates well with our other solutions such as planning, scheduling and forecasting so that we can get a complete picture of what is happening within the business.

So in summary, homeworking is very much at the forefront of business minds due to the current coronavirus crisis, with organisations looking for practical solutions that ensure business can continue smoothly. SensĂ©e is seeing a large growth in interest from businesses demanding contact centre homeworking solutions that deliver full visibility, control, engagement, information security and scalability – and that can also fully support an engaged and flexible workforce. These are difficult and, trying times where, for many businesses, homeworking is the only option. However, we expect the current spark of interest and engagement in the approach to continue long into the future.

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 SensĂ©e. “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

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

Homeworking specialist SensĂ©e has launched CloudWorksℱ, 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 SensĂ©e “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:

ASSETSℱ: 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.

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

SAFEOSℱ: SensĂ©e’s security framework that locks down the homeworkers’ (self-provided) computer workstation and regulates secure access to business mission-critical applications.

TEAMTONICÂź: 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.