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.

Say hello to Alan — new arrival to boost growth

This week we’re very pleased to welcome Alan Ayling through the Sensée front door.

He joins us Business Development Director and is very familiar with the customer service sector. Previously he assisted well-known telecoms and outsourcing businesses — including BT, KCOM and Teleperformance — with boosting both sales and profitability.

Alan’s arrival will help us to keep on making the most of the fast-growing homeworking opportunity — as people and organisations continue to ‘head home’ because of the lifestyle, environmental and business benefits.

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

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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.

Guest blog for WorkWise UK: Commuting; people, planet and profit

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In support of National Commute Week organised by WorkWise UK, Steve Mosser, CEO of Sensée, was invited to contribute an article on CSR aspects relating to Commuting.

On average, UK citizens spend an hour a day commuting to and from work. Over and above the actual time involved, there is also a significant number of other downsides: the high cost of public transport, escalating fuel costs, traffic jams, bad weather, packed commuter trains, personal risks related to late night commuting (visibility and safety), transport delays and cancellations, leaves on the line… I could go on.

You may have assumed that I don’t like commuting. And you’d be right – I don’t! But it’s not my dislike of commuting that that’s important or relevant during National Commute Week, it’s how companies can support Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals by implementing flexible – and smarter – ways of working that also happen not to involve commuting. Read more

 

Home workers happier despite choosing to work more hours

Home workers happier despite choosing to work more hours

British home workers are also spending more time caring for family members

New research has found that home-based employees are choosing to work more hours than when they worked in traditional offices, according to research carried out by Sensée.

Despite opting to work more hours daily, the research found that home workers are happier because they’re empowered to choose the hours they work so they can still attend to family responsibilities. Three quarters of current home-based employees (77%) stated that working from home enables them to achieve more in their day, including caring for family members or friends, exercising more and further education.

Time and money saved on commuting – along with more control over their day – were cited among the top three benefits of working from home.

“Homeworking has progressed massively in the past five years. We’re at what we are calling the next generation of homeworking, or Homeworking 2.0. This is where all barriers associated with home working are removed, including the challenge of trust between an employer and employee. Critically, our ecosystem enables people to choose when they work, and employers have peace-of-mind that they are fully focused on work activities when they do,” explains Steve Mosser, CEO of Sensée.

“Although home working isn’t for everyone, it gives those that want to an opportunity to have more control over their day by being truly empowered to build their work hours around their life. As the UK’s biggest employer of home workers, many of our staff choose to convert the hours saved on commuting to work more. The great news is that they’re still overall happier and have a better work/life balance – largely because they don’t need to sacrifice time doing things that are important to them, and most importantly when they want to do them,” said Mosser.

The research revealed a desire to work from home among office-based employees. Three-fifths (81%) of office-based employees said they would take the opportunity to work from home (full time/part time) to care for a family member or friend.

A number of office workers expressed their cynicism about homeworking due to a fear of either distractions or loneliness. However Homeworking 2.0 has been successful in addressing both of these concerns through technology and new ways of collaborative working.

Offering both full-time and part-time home working positions, Sensée gives employees a rewarding career serving customers of the UK’s leading brands. To find out more and apply for one of the positions available, candidates are encouraged to visit: http://www.sensee.co.uk/homeworking/vacancies.html?src=1234

For Sensée press enquiries, please contact:

Joshua Van Raalte or Denis Davies

Brazil

020 7785 7383

joshuavr@agencybrazil.com

denisd@agencybrazil.com

Worried about your pets while at work? You’re not alone.

Sensée survey finds pets could be central to employee happiness.

Sensée, the UK’s leading homeworking outsourcing provider, today reveals that more than two-thirds (67%) of UK workers experience feelings of guilt, followed closely by anxiety and unhappiness when leaving pets at home for long periods of time.

Based on research involving both home-based and office workers, the survey also found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of office workers claim to have considered working from home in order to care for their pets.

Almost half (47%) of homeworkers questioned claim that their pet was an influencing factor when deciding to become a home-based worker.

“The flexibility of home-based working gives employees the opportunity to spend more time caring for members of the family and pets,” explains Steve Mosser, CEO of Sensée. “By enabling employees to work remotely, companies can relieve the anxiety that many workers with pets feel when away from home for long periods of time.”

The survey also found that a third of home-based workers spend more than three hours per day caring for their pets. Unsurprisingly, the most popular pets were found to be dogs, cats and small mammals.

“Working from home has been a life-changing experience,” says Kelly Dring, a Sensée HomeAgent. “When I used to work in an office I would often rush back home at lunch to check on my two dogs. I just didn’t like the idea of them being alone all day. However since becoming a home-based worker, I have so much more flexibility to do the things I want – including spending more time with my pets.”

With both full-time and part-time home working positions available, Sensée offers employees a rewarding career serving customers of the UK’s leading brands. To find out more and apply for one of the positions available, candidates are encouraged to visit: http://www.sensee.co.uk/homeworking/vacancies.html?src=1234

About Sensée

For Sensée press enquiries, please contact:

Joshua Van Raalte or Denis Davies

Brazil

020 7785 7383

joshuavr@agencybrazil.com

denisd@agencybrazil.com

The Island Echo covers Sensée’s recruitment drive

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Sensée announces it will recruit up to 100 people from the Isle of Wight

“The Isle of Wight offers untapped potential for homeworking. It’s one of the most connected areas of the UK – if not Europe – and its highly educated population makes it an attractive destination for homeworking. It also has a great tourism industry that is friendly and welcoming, and these skills can be easily transferred into a customer service environment,” explains Steve Mosser, CEO Find out more