(Online Workshop) Creating a Complete Homeworking Ecosystem

Date: Wednesday 7th October 2020
Time: 11.30am to 13:00pm
Chair: Sandra Busby

It’s often said that to effectively manage a contact centre homeworking team your business needs to adopt a virtual mindset across everything that it does: from recruitment & onboarding to communications, resource scheduling, managing health & well-being, and info security.

In this virtual meeting we’ll discuss how to manage homeworking teams in both 100% home and hybrid home/office environments.

The discussion will cover people & operational issues as well as the technology elements required to create and deploy an end-to-end homeworking ecosystem.

To reserve your seat simply email lucinda@wccf.uk

Once registered you will receive a link to join the meeting a few days prior.

Sensée Puts the Fizz into Virtual Events

Looking to say thank you to the people who have supported your business through the tough last few months?

Last night, Sensée, the work-from-home contact centre specialists, teamed up with Bubbledogs to meet its clients, partners and friends online for a novel Grower Champagne Tasting virtual event.

Ran entirely virtually via Zoom, the event featured an educational session on Grower Champagne from TV sommelier and presenter Sandia Chang, a fun champagne quiz, and the opportunity to sample two amazing grower champagnes. Guests also received a hot dog home kit so they could create Bubbledogs’ most-loved hot dogs from the comfort of their own kitchens.

“Conducting business effectively in a virtual world has been a learning experience for everyone” said Mark Walton, CEO of Sensée. “It calls for a virtual approach to everything that you do, and that includes how you recognise the value of those that are the vital to the success of your business. We felt that the event was a big hit. Sandia and the Bubbledogs team were very professional and entertaining, and it was a great way to say a big thank you to clients and others that we work most closely with.”

(Online Seminar) Contact Centre Homeworking in 2021

ONLINE SEMINAR: Wed 14 Oct 2020, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Over the last few months the vast majority of UK contact centres have operated on a work-from-home basis and, for most, it’s been a steep learning curve.

Initially, concerns about connectivity and the health and well-being of remote workers dominated. Then management and performance issues took centre stage, with many centres experiencing severe challenges as sickness levels increased, and both productivity and staff engagement fell.

Now, contact centres must decide on the way forward. Will it be 100% homeworking or hybrid office/homeworking? How will staggered rotas work? Will work-from-home be voluntary, compulsory, or both?

For this online seminar, the CCMA has invited Sensée to share its experiences of managing homeworking teams.

Topics to be covered include:

  • The importance of creating a complete end-to-end homeworking technology ecosystem
  • Why your Virtual Workplace must, as closely as possible, replicate the physical office environment
  • Employee engagement in a virtual world
  • Remotely managing performance, productivity and quality
  • Monitoring the health and well-being of homeworkers
  • Infosecurity in a virtual world
  • Should you treat your homeworkers and office-based staff the same – or differently?
  • The benefits of homeworking: a real life case study of how homeworking has increased productivity & CSAT and reduced cost & attrition
  • Great tips and advice on managing homeworking teams

Sign up today to find out how your business can get more from homeworking – and get answers to your burning issues from Sensée’s experienced Consultants, Operations Managers and Team Leaders.



Planning For Hybrid Homeworking: 6 Things to Consider

Planning ahead when the future is as uncertain as it is today is difficult. But you’ve got to start somewhere. So how about with a list of objectives, and a list of ‘highly probable’ circumstances and conditions under which you are likely to operate in 2021?

When it comes to running customer contact operations, your objectives for 2021 may well look similar to those this year. For example, to deliver excellent customer experiences and create positive outcomes. To improve customer satisfaction & loyalty. To keep your people engaged, motivated and happy, while looking after their mental health & well being. To cut costs…. and so on.

The problem comes when trying to define the circumstances and conditions that will prevail next year. For the truth is we simply don’t know. Social distancing and staggered rotas look set to remain, and with a strong possibility of future Covid-19 spikes, no-one can confidently base their planning on the likelihood of having open and fully populated offices. We also don’t know what effect a subsequent Covid-19 spike would have on the nature and volume of customer contacts, people’s ability to travel, or on employees’ mental health & well being.

So where does that leave contact centre planning? Well we know (if you believe the research) that the majority of businesses are planning to open their bricks and mortar (B&M) contact centres in 2021. Indeed when asked ‘What Will Your Working Environment Mainly Look Like in 2021?’ 57% of UK contact centre leaders interviewed as part of the Call North West/SWCCF/Talkdesk Post Lockdown survey said that they expected it to most closely resemble a Socially Distanced B&M Centre, with 35% expecting it to look like a Work-from-Home centre, and only 7% a Normal Contact Centre. And if that’s the case then the vast majority of contact centres are highly likely to be operating hybrid models in 2021 (i.e. part B&M centre working and part homeworking).

If you are considering a hybrid model, here are six things to consider:

  1. Homeworking isn’t for everyone: The public debate around homeworking during lockdown has often focused on whether homeworking is a good idea or whether office workers are more productive. But is that the right question? I would say that it’s more important to ask ‘When would homeworking work effectively for us?’ and ‘Who would make an ideal homeworker?’ If you’re operating a hybrid model, prioritise those who WANT to work from home as full or part time homeworkers, not those who don’t want to or those who are less productive working-from-home.
  2. Flexible scheduling is key: Almost three-quarters of contact centre homeworkers choose to work-from-home to have a better work-life-balance (WLB) according to the 2020 UK HomeAgent survey, with 44% saying that they can self-select their working hours. Flexible hours is a key benefit of homeworking especially if it means people can fit work in around their other daily priorities. So consider flexible scheduling as an incentive to encourage people to homework, including the use of split shifts. 49% of Employers responding to the 2020 UK HomeAgent survey said that they currently allow their homeworkers to work multiple shifts on a single day.
  3. Don’t just assume your in-house technology and systems are suited to homeworking: Just because your technology is cloud-delivered doesn’t mean that it’s optimised for homeworking. Does your workforce scheduling technology enable homeworkers to self-schedule and work split shifts for example? Does your training platform support virtual training? Does your communications technology provide a virtual community workspace for homeworkers with live chat and team rooms? If not, you may benefit from a technology ecosystem that’s purpose-built for homeworking.
  4. Pay particular attention to people’s well being: Anxiety/Mental Health has been the biggest concern for organisations operating work-from-home centres during the current crisis according to the Call North West/SWCCF/Talkdesk Post Lockdown survey, with 66% of contact centre leaders stating that it had been a significant or very significant issue. Only 25% of leaders saw Anxiety/Mental Health as being less of a challenge across their entire estates in 2021, with 30% seeing it as more of a challenge.
  5. Treat homeworkers and in-house personnel the same (wherever possible): If you are operating a hybrid model it’s important that you don’t penalise employees for choosing to work-from-home or work from the office. While it’s not always possible to deliver the same advantages to both sets of workers (e.g. you can’t lay on free fruit, coffee and games machines for homeworkers), it’s important that you set similar expectations when it comes to contact handling quality and performance.
  6. Recognise the uniqueness of the work-from-home environment: As many organisations have found to their cost in recent months, if you simply lift employees out of a contact centre, ask them to work from home, and then not give them the right tools then the move can be counterproductive, leading to lower productivity, lower morale, high instances of absence, mental health issues and lower revenues/profit. Do it properly, and there’s plenty of evidence that homeworking can boost productivity, reduce absenteeism/attrition, cut costs and generate huge work-life-balance benefits. Recognise the uniqueness of the work from home environment and ‘overcompensate’ and ‘overcommunicate’ if appropriate!

Long term homeworking on the rise as city dwellers escape to the country

According to Rightmove, the number of City residents contacting estate agents to buy a home in a village rose by 126% in June & July 2020 compared to the same period last year.

This increase in buyers looking to move outside cities began in April according to the company and is continuing, with the uplift in village enquiries most notable among people living in Liverpool, Edinburgh, Birmingham & London.

Rightmove’s announcement mirrors our own experiences.

“The current crisis has led to a lot of people re-evaluating and re-prioritising various aspects of their work and home life” said Mark Walton, CEO of Sensée “and it is no surprise to read that some are opting for a simpler life away from the cities.

“The rise of homeworking over the last few months will have played a part in decision-making as many people have not only come to realise that they can work from home but also that they can do so effectively.”

74% of long-term homeworkers say that a better work-life-balance is a key benefit of work-from-home according to The 2020 UK HomeAgent Survey.  86% say that they incur no travel-to-work costs, and 81% that they have removed time wasted travelling to work.

(Pic) Sensée homeworkers – some views from the office window. Top row L-R: Tracey (Menai Strait, Gwynedd, Wales), Nicola (Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan); Bottom row L-R:  Cherie (Looe, Cornwall), Beverley (Snowdonia National Park, Wales), and a cycle ride after work with Hannah (Wasdale, Lake District)




(eBook) Contact Centres in the Fast Lane: The Rise of a New Operating Model

Contact Centres in the Fast Lane CoverCaught in a wider organisational response to the pandemic, contact centre leadership is busily responding to the demands of customer, employee and organisation.

Their combined impact is starting to redesign the way that contact centres work.

Imagination has been liberated as new responses are urgently demanded.

Many outstanding ambitions such as digital first engagement, omni-channel effectiveness, actionable insight, AI fuelled decision making, front line empowerment are now in production and being scaled.

This eBook explores why the contact centre is likely to remain in a state of accelerated change and what it might look like as part of a broader digital first capability that now underpins most organisational transformation.

View here (no need to register)


(eBook) Contact Centre Homeworking: 10 Key Operational Challenges

How do you:

  1. Recruit and onboard homeworkers?
  2. Maintain visibility of homeworking activities?
  3. Manage Performance?
  4. Communicate with homeworkers?
  5. Train homeworkers?
  6. Ensure your homeworking environment is compliant?
  7. Ensure your homeworking environment is secure?
  8. Deliver homeworking work-life-balance benefits (such as split shifts)?
  9. Enable real-time collaboration?
  10. Manage homeworkers?Read our eBook today and get on top of these major remote management issues.

Read our eBook and learn how to get on top of these and many other remote management issues.

View here (no need to register)

(Webinar) Homeworking, Digital First and Cutting Cost-to-Serve

– Thursday Aug 13th, 12 – 1PM (BST) –

On this webinar, Emotive CX specialist Martin Hill-Wilson will discuss the contact centre industry’s next major challenge – how to deliver CX at much lower cost – as well as the Digital First agenda that a growing number of organisations are adopting.

Sensée homeworking specialist Rob Smale will then ask ‘What contact centre homeworking model is right for your business?’ discussing the pros and cons of a range of options:

  • 100% homeworking Vs hybrid (home/office) working
  • Single flexible shifts Vs split shifts
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)/Bring Your Own Broadband (BYOB) Vs company-provided equipment
  • Company-supplied desks and furniture Vs homeworker-supplied

If work-from-home is not your area of expertise, Rob will also discuss what help is at hand to help you through the initial stages of your homeworking journey.

Register Today


Home delivery companies face significant customer service challenges in the run up to Christmas

(Reprinted courtesy of Internet Retailing magazine)

Fabulous news from Hermes last week with the delivery specialist announcing over 10,000 new jobs and predicting a near-doubling of parcel volumes in the run up to Christmas. And it’s not the only good news from delivery firms during lockdown. DPD announced 6,000 new roles as part of a £200m investment, Kingfisher 3-4000 jobs, and online giants Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Amazon and Morrison thousands more. Online fashion and cosmetic retailer Asos revealed a 10% boost in sales to £1 billion in the four months to June 2020.

They are exciting headlines. But they also beg the question ‘how will the sector cope with the severe service centre challenges this expansion will create?’

It’s also interesting that Hermes’ news should break on the same day as reports of a Covid-19 outbreak at a customer service centre in Scotland, and the same week as the announcement of the results from a major survey into the future of contact centre working. 89% of the 102 contact centre leaders responding to the “What will your contact centre be like post lockdown?” survey said that the Covid-19 crisis has changed the contact centre industry forever, with only 3% saying that it hasn’t (the remainder stating they were unsure).

When asked “What Will Your Working Environment Mainly Look Like in 2021?” 57% of contact centre leaders chose an image of a Socially Distanced Centre, 35% a Work-from-Home centre, and only 7% a Normal Contact Centre. The survey was conducted by the South West Contact Centre Forum (SWCCF) and Call North West (CNW) in partnership with Talkdesk.

In the current environment, there’s little chance of delivery companies expanding their bricks and mortar contact centre operations to meet the growing demand for service… which leaves just one realistic and feasible option: work-from-home (WFH).

Homeworking has been a business phenomenon during lockdown with 77% of UK contact centres having 50% or more of their employees working from home during the Covid-19 crisis according to the survey.

Despite these impressive statistics though, homeworking has not been easy, and has thrown up unique and significant challenges. For example, what makes a good customer service homeworker? How do you recruit and train people virtually? How do you manage people’s health and well being? How do you manage performance and quality, communicate effectively with remote workers, maintain infosecurity, stay compliant. And one can add to this long list the requirement for eDelivery support staff to understand the end-to-end customer journey and be familiar with common digital customer experience tools.

To achieve excellence in running a WFH customer service team calls for a very different mindset – one that starts with learning how to recruit the right homeworkers and extends to creating a virtual mindset across everything from training, planning, managing and reporting…… within a technology ecosystem that is secure, robust and flexible enough to scale up and down with the eDelivery company’s business needs.

With 35% of leaders predicting that their contact centres will mainly be homeworking in 2021 according to the SWCCF/CNW/Talkdesk survey, the need to find a practical service solution for the Festive Season retail peak is very much on.

Work-from-home can be more effective and productive than office-based working

As we emerge from lockdown, it’s the perfect time for company boards to review their homeworking experiences and ask ‘What part will it play in the workplace of the future?’

No-one is claiming that homeworking is a panacea and it’s not for everyone. However, for many organisations with long term homeworking strategies, it’s delivered huge cost and productivity benefits, as well as massive employee benefits – such as the removal of travel-to-work costs and a better work-life-balance*.

So now is the time to have a practical debate about homeworking…. and it should start by assessing what form of homeworking, and what operating model, is best suited to your requirements. It’s not always just a choice between working 100% from home or 100% from the office.

Below are a number of recent market survey results that support this view of the efficacy of homeworking:

  • 66% of all employed U.S. workers say they can be effective when working remotely, according to the LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index survey**. The same survey found that 85% of HR professionals say they can be effective with work from home (WFH).
  • The 2020 UK HomeAgent Study*, the UK’s largest ever study into long term contact centre homeworking, revealed that more and more UK centres are turning to homeworking as they discover its financial and productivity benefits. When comparing work-at-home with office-based contact centres, 75 per cent of organisations responding to the survey said that Attrition is lower, 61 per cent said Productivity is better, and 54 per cent said Absenteeism is better. As well as delivering significant advantages to businesses, homeworking is also delivering huge benefits to contact centre ‘HomeAgents’. 74 per cent said that they have a better work-life-balance, 86 per cent that they have no travel-to-work costs, and 81 per cent that they have removed the time wasted travelling to work.
  • A Glassdoor study*** showed that 60% of people feel they can perform effectively no matter how long they have to WFH. 50% say they are as, or more, productive remote working.
  • An online poll of contact centre professionals**** revealed that 47 per cent of organisations that introduced homeworking in response to the Coronavirus crisis now see it as a long term strategy.


* The 2020 UK HomeAgent Survey was conducted between November 2019 and the middle of March 2020, prior to the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK. It was managed/published by the UK Contact Centre Forum (UKCCF) and sponsored by Content Guru, Sensée and SYKES. 300 Managers/Directors and HomeAgents took part in the study

** June 2020. LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index is based on a quantitative online survey that is distributed to members via email every two weeks. Roughly 5,000+ U.S.-based members respond to each wave

*** COVID-19 & Employee Sentiment on Changing Workforce, March 2020

**** The poll was conducted by Sensée in conjunction with the UKCCF, South West Contact Centre Forum and Call North West in April, May and June 2020 amongst a total of 203 UK contact centre professionals