My Homeworking Story (Episode 3): Living the Dream

Fiona was brought up on a small island in the Outer Hebrides and, for most of her life, has yearned for the day she could return to her birthplace, or a similarly remote location.

But work always got in the way. Fiona has had a long and fulfilling career working in the voluntary sector and undertaking community development work (including managing a Citizens Advice Bureau and running a Careers Centre) but this was mainly living in an around large cities in Scotland.

Five years ago, however, she figured it was time for a change. Partly this was because she had a medical condition that made traveling difficult but also because she wanted to do something at home.

Fiona says she found SensĂ©e by accident. Soon after joining, however, she knew she’d made the right choice.

Fiona started working on the Argos account, moved to Aviva and then Photobox, before joining the Bupa team. This is when she really found her niche. “It’s challenging” she admits “but I’m a problem solver by nature and able to use my listening and counselling skills to good effect. I also find it the most rewarding account I’ve worked on at SensĂ©e because you can really make a difference when dealing with matters of health and well being. It makes what you do feel very real.”

In 2020, Fiona upped stick and moved from Galashiels (near the English border) with her partner and five cats to a remote area at the very top of Sutherland. “We’re on a single track road, and the nearest house is 500 yards away” she explains. “The nearest big city is Inverness and that’s 150-200 miles away. But none of that makes any difference when it comes to doing my job effectively. We even have remarkably good broadband for such a remote location.”

“I can earn a living and be where I want to be. Plus, SensĂ©e is probably the best place I have ever worked in terms of people engagement. Despite the fact that we all work remotely, you always feel part of the work community and never isolated. The training we receive is excellent too. I really am living the dream.”

My Homeworking Story (Episode 2): Coping with distractions

In the second article in our ‘Homeworking Stories’ series, SensĂ©e Training Manager Sam Goldney explains another secret to her success as a homeworker.

Coping with Distractions

Sam GoldneySo you’ve dropped your daughter off at school crying and the teacher has peeled her off your leg as she fancies a day at home with Mummy.

The dog has chased a bird into what felt like the next county and wouldn’t come back so you’re running late to get back home with a sulky dog firmly on a lead.

The cat has brought a mouse into the house and it is currently squeaking its way round the lounge with said cat in hot pursuit….. and you need to be on a conference call with a new client in five minutes. Arrggghhhhhh!

All of those (and more) have happened to me during my work from home journey.  And I’d put part of my success at homeworking down to an ability to switch off and concentrate on the job in hand…. just as if I was in a contact centre where I wouldn’t have those distractions around me.

Here are my 9 tips for coping with distractions:

  1. If you have pets, shut them away in another part of the house so they don’t disturb you when you’re working
  2. Get dressed – it doesn’t have to be in a suit but the act of getting dressed ready for work psychologically amends your mindset
  3. Have a dedicated work space which is always kept clear so you can focus on the job in hand
  4. Switch off your phone or at least put it on silent and log out of all social media
  5. Ensure family members and friends know that you’re working. You can’t stop for a coffee if someone happens to ‘pop-in’ whilst you’re working
  6. Start the day with a realistic to do list and set yourself goals to achieve
  7. Stay active, stand up, stretch your arms. Generally avoid getting uncomfortable whilst you’re working
  8. Take breaks – get some exercise, plan a lunch time walk, or go for a bike ride or run. You’re always much fresher after exercise and it’s good for your mental health too
  9. Plan time to speak with your colleagues – then you can ignore the ping of Teams without worrying about appearing rude

Sensée and Allianz Partners homeworking team scoops top prize at the 2020 Northern Contact Centre Awards

Work-from-home specialist Sensée and Allianz Partners, a world leader in assistance, travel insurance, international health and mobility services, are delighted to announce that their customer service homeworking team was named Frontline Team of the Year at a virtual ceremony for the 2020 Northern Contact Centre Awards last Thursday night.

The Allianz Partners Homeworking team is made up of Customer Service Advisors, Trainers, Team Leaders, Managers and Quality Analysts and handles breakdown assistance and operational calls for many prestigious automotive manufacturers.

Lockdown has been an extremely busy time for the team, managing major changes as the Covid crisis affected the breakdown industry, with many new systems and processes needing to be introduced. Throughout it all, the team maintained its high quality and service standards. The Sensée team has also lent its experience and expertise to Allianz Partners as it transitioned its own personnel to work-from-home during lockdown.

The annual Northern Awards are a celebration of contact centre excellence for businesses operating in the North of England. Other winners at the Awards included The Co-op, Reassure, ATOS, Barclays, QASSS, RSA Motability, Slater Gordon Solutions Motor, Regenda Homes and IAG Loyalty. The event is organised and operated by Call North West, a networking organisation that supports over 700 contact centres in the region.

SensĂ©e was also named joint winner in the Covid – Best Homeworking Programme category at the Awards.

“Congratulations to Call North West for organising such a highly entertaining virtual Awards evening” said Paul Whymark, Chief Operating Officer, SensĂ©e. “The last few months have been a very testing time for everyone in the customer service industry and it was inspiring to witness the professionalism of people prepared to go the extra mile to help customers and deliver solutions. We are very proud of the hard work and dedication of the Allianz Partners Homeworking team and delighted that their achievements have been recognised with this Award.”

Sensée scoops top prizes at the 2020 Northern Contact Centre Awards

Huge congratulations to the Sensée and Allianz Partners homeworking team which, last night, was named Frontline Team of the Year at the 2020 Northern Contact Centre Awards during a glittering virtual ceremony.

The Sensée and Allianz Partners team handles breakdown assistance and operational calls for many prestigious automotive manufacturers.

SensĂ©e was also named joint winner in the Covid – Best Homeworking Programme category at the Awards.

The annual Northern Awards are a celebration of contact centre excellence for businesses operating in the North of England. Other winners at the Awards included The Co-op, Reassure, ATOS, Barclays, QASSS, RSA Motability, Slater Gordon Solutions Motor, Regenda Homes and IAG Loyalty. The event is organised and operated by Call North West, a networking organisation that supports over 700 contact centres in the region.

“Many congratulations to Call North West for organising such a highly entertaining virtual Awards evening” said Paul Whymark, Chief Operating Officer, SensĂ©e. “The last few months have been a very testing time for everyone in the customer service industry and it was inspiring to witness the professionalism of people prepared to go the extra mile to help customers and deliver solutions. We are very proud of the hard work and dedication of the Allianz Partners Homeworking team and delighted that their achievements have been recognised with this Award.”

(Contact Centre Webinar) People Development in a Virtual World

Date: Thursday 12th November 2020
Time: 12.00 pm to 13:00pm
Host: Jane Thomas, Managing Director, South West Contact Centre Forum and Call North West

Adapting to the new world of contact centre homeworking – and doing so in a way that is ethical and works optimally for both businesses and their employees – is far from easy.

From learning how to connect remote workers securely to managing productivity & quality, and ensuring positive health & well being, the transition to homeworking has created a host of complex challenges. And those challenges are unlikely to go away anytime soon.

With 2021 fast approaching, we appear no closer to a full return to the office; work-from-home will be a key part of the contact centre landscape for some time to come.

In this webinar we look at how contact centres can move their homeworking operations to the next stage – including addressing employee engagement issues in these most difficult of times.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Who make the best homeworkers?
  • Virtual or office-based recruitment?
  • Virtual recruitment processes and on-boarding
  • Virtual or office-based training?
  • Induction and on-going training in a virtual world
  • eLearning and continuous learning
  • Team Leader training

The South West Contact Centre Forum/ Call North West will be joined by Mark Walton, CEO @ Sensée, Sarah Cocks, L&D Champion @ Sensée and Sam Goldney, Training Manager @ Sensée who will lend their expertise and experience to the debate.

During an extended Q&A session, attendees will have the opportunity to discuss their most burning People Development issues.

Agenda

12.00 – 12.05: Introductions and Agenda – Jane Thomas (SWCCF/CNW)
12.05 – 12.15: Homeworking in 2021 – Mark Walton (SensĂ©e)
12.15 – 13.00: Question and Answer session – Jane Thomas (SWCCF/CNW) and Mark Walton, Sarah Cocks and Sam Goldney (SensĂ©e)
13.00: Ends

Click here to register for the 12th November SWCCF and CNW Webinar

(Event recording) The Great Flexible Working Debate: Gig Working vs The Employed Model

Did you miss last week’s Great Debate organised by the Contact Centre Managers’ Association (CCMA)?

If so, you can click here to view and listen to a recording of the whole online event.

The Great Debate pitched Mark Walton, CEO, Sensée against Megan Neale, Co-Founder and COO, Limitless.  Mark was spokesperson for the Employed model and Megan for the Gig Working model.

Who won? You decide!

 

My Homeworking Story (Episode 1): The Journey To Work

In the first of a new six part series, Sensée Training Manager Sam Goldney explains the steps she takes when getting ready for work.

The Journey To Work

Sam GoldneyAfter ten years of working from home I’d like to think I’ve got my morning journey to work routine finely honed. I see the children off to school on the school bus and then go for a good yomp through the fields with the dogs before grabbing a coffee and heading upstairs. My computer’s already turned on, so I load my systems and am ready for the day in a great frame of mind after a healthy dose of family and fresh air.

But it hasn’t always been as easy as walking the dogs and negotiating my two young children to get dressed and eat breakfast. I spent years sitting on the motorway on my commute from leafy North Warwickshire to central Birmingham and then driving frantically round the car park looking for a parking spot… before running into the office to ensure I arrived before my learners.

It took the life changing act of losing my best friend to cancer to make me realise that there was more to life than this. Leaving my amazing job was a brave step but one of the best I ever made.

Starting my workday in a happy, healthy frame of mind ensures that both my employer and family get the very best out of me.  Here are my 6 tips for getting ready to work:

  1. Get showered and dressed: The act of getting dressed psychologically switches your work mindset on
  2. Don’t get distracted by home tasks when you should be working: You’ll only feel guilty unlike the washing up which won’t mind waiting until your lunch break for you
  3. Have a dedicated workspace: Walking up the stairs to the office is my daily commute and I switch from my role as Mum and Wife to Training Manager as I close the office door
  4. Get your PC switched on early: Avoid sitting at your PC watching the spinning circle of Windows updates being installed through clenched teeth
  5. Make sure you have what you need for the day: Have a glass of water to hand or an extra coffee in a thermos flask
  6. Have a clear working space: If necessary, clear everything to the other end of the dining table (if that is what you are working from these days)
    ‱ Write yourself a list of what you want to achieve, then break it down
. must complete, need to complete, useful to complete, bonus task
    ‱ Look at your diary for the day and plan time for a break. You are far more productive if you step away and return with a fresh perspective on a problem
    ‱ Say good morning to your team. Check in on them and their loved ones and use your webcam to see what people are saying as well as listening to them

(Flexible working e-meeting) The Great Debate: Gig Working vs The Employed Model

Thursday 29 October at noon
Chair: Leigh Hopwood, CCMA
Gig working spokesperson: TBC, Limitless
Employed status spokesperson: Mark Walton, CEO, Sensée

As contact centres grapple to determine a future operating model on a backdrop of increased homeworking, the attitudes of a new generation of workers and a desire to find a better work-life balance are driving contact centre leaders to start thinking differently.

The Great Debate will focus on two alternative approaches to flexible working ‘Gig Working’ and ‘The Employed Model’ pitching SensĂ©e, the contact centre business renowned for its successful homeworking operations, against Limitless, a business that has deployed a gig workforce to deliver contact centre capabilities.

How it will work

We plan to have some fun! SensĂ©e will open the debate and propose why flexible working is appropriate in most settings, the ethics behind it and the security it provides. Then we’ll hear from Limitless who will oppose this approach and present how gig working can meet the needs of both customers and colleagues.

You will be invited to share your comments and questions through the Zoom platform, which will be shared live by our Chair of the debate, Leigh Hopwood.

After closing comments from both the proposer and the opposition, you will be invited to vote on the statement: Flexible working is appropriate in more settings than gig working.

What are Gig Workers?

Gig workers are independent contractors, online platform workers, contract firm workers, on-call workers and temporary workers. Gig workers enter into formal agreements with on-demand companies to provide services to the company’s clients. They have high levels of flexibility and autonomy.

Agenda

12:00 Welcome – Leigh Hopwood
12:05 Proposition: Employed Model – Mark Walton, SensĂ©e (6 mins)
12:11 Opposition: Gig Working – TBC, Limitless (6 mins)
12:17 Response: Employed Model – Mark Walton, SensĂ©e (6 mins)
12:23 Response: Gig Working – TBC, Limitless (6 mins)
12:30 Comments and questions from the floor (prepared by Leigh, Mark and Limitless)
12:45 Closing comments: Employed Model – Mark Walton, SensĂ©e (2 mins)
12:47 Closing comments: Gig Working – TBC, Limitless (2 mins)
12:50 Vote on the statement: “The Employed model is a more appropriate way to achieve flexible working in a broad range of settings than gig working”

To register, please visit the CCMA Event Registration Page

 

(e-meeting) Creating a positive homeworking team culture

11.30am – 13.00pm
Thursday 22nd October
Chair: Jayne Davies, Chair, CCNNI

At this e-meeting in partnership with the Contact Centre Network Northern Ireland (CCNNI) we will discuss the ‘people’ side of running a busy work-from-home contact centre operation, with particular focus on building and sustaining team culture in a sustainable homeworking operating model.

The e-meeting will cover key aspects of people and team management including:

‱  Employee engagement
‱  Team culture
‱  Recruitment and on-boarding
‱  Flexible working and life/work balance
‱  Health and wellbeing of remote workers
‱  Motivation and reward
‱  Performance management and quality
‱  Sustaining company ethos and values with homeworking

The virtual meeting will include a presentation, insight and extended discussions with Sensée Customer Experience Officer Rob Smale, Sensée NI Sourcing Manager Annamarie Quinn, and Sensée Team Leader Marie McClenaghan, with opportunities throughout for attendees to ask questions around their contact centre homeworking challenges.

Agenda

11.30 – 11.35: Introduction (Jayne Davies, CCNNI)
11.35 – 11.55: Presentation “Homeworking – the People Challenges” (SensĂ©e)
11.55 – 12.35: Breakout Discussions (around homeworking experiences and challenges)
12.35 – 13.00: Feedback from Breakout sessions and general Q&A

To register your place, please visit the CCNNI Event Registration Page

 

 

SensĂ©e’s homeworking achievements recognised at 2020 industry awards

2020 has been an extraordinary year for homeworking and a landmark year for Sensée.

In recognition of the company’s impressive recent growth, and role in helping other organisations transition to homeworking during lockdown, we have been shortlisted at a number of major 2020 industry awards.

Sensée has been named as a Finalist at the prestigious European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards in the Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year category, as well as in the Most Effective Homeworking Programme, and Best Outsourcing Partnership (with BUPA) categories.

At the Northern Awards, we’ve been shortlisted for Best Outsourcer, Best Homeworking Programme During Covid-19, Frontline Team of the Year (with Allianz Partners), and Customer Service Advisor (Jenny Bate, SSE). And at the South West Contact Centre Awards, we’ve been named as finalists for Best Outsourcer, Best Homeworking Programme During Covid-19, Customer Engagement Team of the Year (with Allianz Partners), and Customer Service Representative (Jenny Bate, SSE).

“We’re delighted to have been recognised in this way” said Mark Walton, CEO of SensĂ©e. “We’ve come a long way in the last 12 months and a big thanks to all our 1300 homeworkers for making everything we’ve achieved possible.

“Congratulations in particular to the Allianz Partners’ team and to Jenny from our SSE team who have been shortlisted at two separate Awards events – an amazing achievement. Best of luck to all our finalists!”.