Sensée launches ‘The Sensée Forest’ with aim of achieving carbon neutrality

Home and hybrid working specialist Sensée has announced a three-year partnership with Treedom, a global web platform for planting trees and forests worldwide.

The partnership is part of a broader Sensée programme to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and become the first 100% work-from-home business to achieve certification for carbon neutrality. Sensée, established 17 years ago and with no physical contact centres, already has an estimated 90% lower carbon footprint than a typical office-based contact centre.

The Sensée Forest will contain nearly 3000 trees, each gifted to permanent Sensée employees over the next three years – with each person able to select their own tree species, in the territory of their choice, using the Treedom web platform. Initially, these choices will include Tephrosia, Grevillea, Coffee and Cacao trees with the territories available including Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania and Ecuador. Each tree will have an online page and be geolocated and photographed, with regular updates posted in an online Tree Diary for tree owners to follow the progress of the project.

The Treedom tree planting scheme is the latest in a line of initiatives designed to reduce Sensée’s overall carbon footprint and encourage energy efficiency, recycling and other eco-friendly activities amongst its homeworker population.

“Over the last 18 months, many workers have re-evaluated their relationship with the workplace and come to appreciate the many benefits of homeworking” said Andy Rosser, Transformation and Innovation Director at Sensée. “Eliminating the time and cost associated with the daily commute is one of the top benefits that work-from-home brings…. plus it brings a major benefit for the environment too in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Sensée is committed to environmental and social sustainability and this latest initiative, The Sensée Forest, is our way of saying a big thank you to our colleagues within the Sensée Family, and doing something good for the planet together. We are proud to support an initiative that’s delivering genuine environmental and social benefits, and enables our colleagues to become part of that journey.”

How is hybrid working for you? Take our poll

Interested in how other contact centres are adapting to hybrid (home/office) working – and comparing experiences?  Our 2 minute poll contains 4 simple questions:

  • What % of your employees have returned to the office since lockdown ended?
  • How does your business currently operate hybrid working?
  • What is the biggest issue you’ve faced since moving to hybrid working?
  • What is the biggest benefit you expect to realise from hybrid working?

Please click on this link, complete the 4 questions, leave us a contact email, and we will send you the aggregated poll results next week.

The survey is entirely anonymous and over 200 organisations have already completed it.

Ageas and Sensée named Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year at 2021 Northern Awards

Massive congratulations to the Ageas-Sensée team who were named Contact Centre of the Year (Outsourced) at Thursday night’s Northern Contact Centre Awards.

The Northern Awards winners were announced at a gala awards dinner at The Midland Hotel in Manchester, and organised/operated by Call North West.

Other winners included Atos, BT, Co-op, EE, IAG Loyalty, interactive investor, Reassured, Regenda Homes, Riverside Housing, RSA Motability and St John Ambulance.

(Online Workshop) Building Team Culture in a Hybrid Workspace

Date: Wednesday, October 20th, 2021
Time: 12.00 to 13.00pm

Chair: Jane Thomas, South West Contact Centre Forum and Call North West

In this online workshop, we’ll discuss how to build team culture in work-from-home (WFH) and hybrid environments. We’ll be discussing:

  • How to create a sense of togetherness within hybrid teams
  • The role of the Team Leader in creating team cohesion and spirit
  • Suggestions and tips on how to create social events to bring colleagues together (even when they live hundreds of miles apart)
  • How organisations can replicate the communications (advisor to manager, advisor to advisor, HR support etc.) that people have come to expect in the office, when they are working from home
  • How companies go about creating comms platforms that support teams on the same work mission (regardless of where they work)
  • How organisations can build a cohesive health and well being programme in a hybrid world.

Who should attend

This online workshop is targeted at Senior Directors and Managers who are currently reflecting and strategising on the current and future challenges for quality service delivery, as well as Team Leaders involved in the day-to-day management of home and hybrid working teams.

Jane Thomas will be joined by Sensée experts – Simon Hunter (CCO); Sarah Cocks (Head of Learning & Development); and Sarah Benkalai (Team Leader).

To register for the event, please go to https://bit.ly/3uSh4w6

 

Sensée recognised for Colleague Engagement at the 2021 UK National Contact Centre Awards

Work-from-home and hybrid workspace specialist Sensée has won the Gold award for “Most Effective Colleague Engagement” at the 2021 UK National Contact Centre Awards (UKNCC Awards). The company also won an award for its Homeworking Programme.

The UKNCC Awards winners were announced at a gala awards dinner at The Brewery, a prestigious Central London event venue last night.

The Most Effective Colleague Engagement category recognises organisations that “truly put their people at the heart of their business” and that “have a good understanding of the impact that strong employee engagement has on customer service”. They are also required “to demonstrate that they have clear processes in place for gathering and acting on Voice of the Employee data from all levels in the contact centre operation”.

The Awards event was organised and operated by the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA), an organisation that’s been bringing contact centre leaders together to share best practice and experiences for over 25 years. The UKNCC Awards, in its 26th Year, is the longest running contact centre awards programme in the UK.

Other winners at the 2021 UKNCC Awards included BT, Bupa, Co-op Insurance, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Hitachi Capital, John Lewis, L&Q, Legal & General, NatWest Group, RSA, Sage, Virgin Media and Vodafone.

“I’m incredibly proud that the work of our superb operational, HR, IT and other teams in building Colleague Engagement – especially during the difficult lockdown period – was recognised at last night’s Awards” said Mark Walton, CEO, Sensée. “Congratulations to all the winners and finalists for their achievements and amazing stories, as well as to the CCMA for putting on such a wonderful event.”

WFH Is No Longer About Kitchen Table Meetings And Zoom Disasters

The business press has recently been full of advice on how to get employees back into the office. The FT has talked of cash bonuses, yoga classes, and free lunches all being used to tempt people back from home. The Guardian is still talking about people working ‘at the kitchen table’ in September 2021.

People often use lazy stereotypes and cliches – it’s easy to create impactful stories that way – but the reality is that no responsible employer is still allowing their employees to work at the kitchen table. Our own posts on the acceptable professional and genuine work-life balance have been talking about this for months and our CEO, Mark Walton recently talked about it on a podcast.

The kitchen table era for those new to homeworking was back in March and April 2020 – when the crisis really started for most organisations. Since then all these companies will have addressed security concerns, the equipment required for remote working, and how to create the right physical space for home working. If they haven’t then that should be the real news story.

One area of home working that has been consistently overlooked by the general news media is the technology and systems needed to connect teams together so they don’t feel alone at a remote location. This is where people should be paying more attention because these technologies and solutions will persist. 

Whether your organisation is going to remain predominantly work-from-home or now starting to adopt a hybrid approach (where some people are at home and others in the office) you’ll need to connect teams that are not always in the same room.

Employees left to work entirely alone, with nothing except their deadlines, frequently miss the social interaction that is the heartbeat of normal office life and often experience isolation. Many argue that this is where the innovation happens….. all those conversations by the coffee machine and water cooler. I’m not so sure. There are many researchers that have argued about the emptiness of modern office life. Teams are frequently transient and many people feel lonely even when they are in an office environment. And office politics, of course, often ruins everything!

This is going to become an even bigger problem as more and more companies try to optimise hybrid working practices. When everyone is in the office, it’s easy to schedule meetings. When you don’t know which days people will be around then you need smarter systems or more rigid processes and processes to ensure meetings are effective. 

It’s not about ‘dictating’ how your business works flexibly. It’s about recognising that the way it recruits, manages, trains, schedules, communicates and supports its people is different. In other words, old office systems and processes are rarely going to be the answer in the new world of WFH and hybrid. 

The LiveDesk service we use inside Sensée addresses many of the issues around communications, management and employee support. It’s a flexible system that organisations can configure however they prefer and that allows teams to work together. People can chat with their supervisors or managers in either a public or private setting, and instantly contact IT or HR. Managers can broadcast policies and ideas to everyone, disseminate company information and conduct polls. Teams and colleagues can chat socially. And everything can be managed on a single screen made up of tailorable ‘pods’ that fit together seamlessly.  

In essence, LiveDesk is a Digital Workspace that mirrors the communications and support that individuals and teams have come to expect within an office setting. Plus it helps address the issue of isolation that WFH employees of many less prepared companies experienced during lockdown. Everyone feels like they genuinely are part of a team without the feeling of being alone or without instant access to colleagues or a supervisor.  

The LiveDesk solution works wherever employees are located, dramatically helping avoid the issue of proximity bias (i.e. where managers ‘favour’ the individuals that work closest to them). When everyone is inside the same digital workspace, everyone is equal.

Sensée has been refining its remote working environment for many years so you’d expect our people to have moved on from the kitchen table! But it’s curious that the media and industry analysts haven’t noticed just how many other companies have thought carefully about how to make work and social interactions function within a virtual environment. It’s not rocket science, just a focus on connectivity and team-working.

The COP26 Climate Change Targets Are Real – We Should All Pay Attention

Next month, the UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow – the conference is better known as the snappier COP26. Although conferences come and go, this time the world leaders are going to be judged on whether they have made any progress on the promises made in Paris back in 2015. Their homework is about to be marked.

It’s easy to feel powerless when facing the question of climate change. If one individual recycles a plastic juice bottle then does it really matter when nations around the world are still powering their electricity grids by burning vast amounts of coal and gas? 

COP26 is focused on energising action at both the individual and government level and there are real changes taking place. In the US, President Biden has announced a pathway to almost half of all electricity generation being solar by 2050. In 2019, the UK government announced a plan for the entire nation to be carbon neutral by 2050. We are slipping on the interim 2025 and 2030 targets, but then the government has been busy with other emergencies in the past 18 months.

Many companies have announced their intention to become carbon neutral, minimising their impact on the environment. The Scottish brewer Brewdog is a good example. It has purchased a large area of land upon which it is now actively planting trees to offset the carbon used inside its business. It’s an initiative in support of World Economic Forum’s ambitious January 2020 plan to grow, conserve and restore a trillion trees.

At Sensée our management team is considering ideas for the reduction of our own carbon footprint, but we are trying to study all the angles and impact, rather than trying to generate headlines with a few short-term measures that may, or may not, really change anything.

Most people will remember how much the urban environment changed in 2020. Birds were singing in cities and plants appeared in places long without any signs of life. One town in Wales was so quiet that hundreds of goats came down from the hills and started exploring the streets.

This is where we know that work from home companies like Sensée can make an immediate difference by avoiding thousands of people having to cross cities in cars or buses everyday. Employees just stay at home and avoid the environmental cost of commuting – the goats in Wales showed just how different towns could be if people don’t have to zip all over the place in cars.

But it’s important to remember that there are many factors involved in determining how we impact the environment. What, for example, is the environmental impact of drastically reducing cars on the road all year around versus homeworkers slightly increasing their heating bills during the winter months? Reducing commuting is an obvious win for the environment but we all need to explore our actions in detail to understand our net impact. This study into the net impact of WFH by the International Energy Agency is particularly interesting.

The very existence of events such as COP26 show that governments are taking climate change extremely seriously. Now everyone else – companies and individuals – must play their part….. while recognising that their actions must be genuine and not just about gimmicks that make for a snappy press release.

There are some significant behavioural changes that will persist after Covid. The Customer Contact Management Association Annual Conference is going to be held virtually in November, even though it’s now possible to organise in-person events in the UK. Business travel will return, but the bar has been raised now. We have seen how productive we can all be using online tools, so if you are going to travel in person then it needs to be for more than just a few drinks with industry colleagues.

The changes we decide upon may be significant. How we change our travel arrangements. Whether we work from home or from the office. And, indeed, whether we buy food and other products that originate closer to home, rather than never think about where our lunchtime salad originated. 

We can all do something to start out on this journey and hopefully the intense media coverage of COP26 will inspire ideas for both individuals and companies to act.

World Car Free Day, which is celebrated on September 22, encourages motorists to give up their cars for a day.

 

(CCMA Online Seminar) Managing Health & Wellbeing in a Hybrid Working Contact Centre

Date: Thu 16 Sep 2021
Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

A November 2020 report from McKinsey showed that 62 per cent of employees globally considered mental health issues to be a top challenge during the COVID-19 crisis, with higher reporting among diverse groups. The same report painted a picture of employers that are scrambling to meet the moment: 96 per cent of companies globally provided additional mental-health resources to employees, but only one in six employees reported feeling supported.

As part of the CCMA Hybrid Series, this online seminar will look at the strategies, measures and tools that organisations should consider to better manage health and wellbeing in hybrid contact centres.

Hosted by Leigh Hopwood, CCMA’s CEO, the event will feature:

Steve Mosser: Sensée’s Founder, and CEO and CIO of Cloudworks

Abigail Hirshman: Director Workplace Programmes (Mental Health and Wellbeing), The Charlie Waller Trust. A leading consultant in mental health & wellbeing at work, and former Head of Workplace Mental Health and Well Being at ACAS.

Abigail and Steve will be discussing:

  • How mental health and wellbeing issues experienced amongst homeworkers are often different to those experienced by office workers – and must be handled accordingly
  • The importance of creating Digital Workplaces for hybrid and homeworking communities that mirror the communications processes and resources that people have come to expect from office-based working
  • The vital role of the Team Leader in monitoring and dealing with mental health and wellbeing issues amongst frontline workers
  • Why flexible working and work-life balance are crucial to better health and wellbeing, and therefore to the success of home and hybrid initiatives.

Abigail Hirshman

Abigail Hirshman leads Charlie Waller’s highly experienced team of mental health trainers and consultants in their mission to help make a real and sustained difference within workplaces.

With an MA in Psychotherapy an MSc in Psychology Abigail has over twenty-five years’ experience in mental health and wellbeing at work from a clinical, research and delivery perspective.

Abigail is an active member of several mental health at work advisory groups, has sat as the workplace expert for the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on mental wellbeing at work and is regularly invited to chair and present at national conferences

Abigail joined the Charlie Waller Trust from Acas, the independent national advisory body for employers and employees, where she was Head of Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Abigail has established relationship with global brands from the public, private and third sector and has significant experience in providing consultancy support on the development and implementation of pragmatic tailored strategies to support mental health in the workplace.

Steve Mosser

Steve is the Founder of Sensée, and the CEO & CIO of its Cloudworks division. He is a homeworking and HomeAgent solution architect for contact centres of all sizes and industries. Steve is passionate about designing, building and deploying solutions that truly provide added value, are sustainable and fix problems, not just mend them.

Book your place

(Webinar) Building a Sense of Togetherness in Hybrid (Home/Office) Teams

Chair: Sandra Busby, Welsh Contact Centre Forum
Date: Sept 8th 2021
Time: 10.00 to 11.30am

In this interactive Q&A panel session, we will discuss how to optimise communications and team management to build team morale in the new world of hybrid (home/office) working and 100% work-from-home (WFH).

  • How do you replicate the ‘team office’ feeling for homeworkers?
  • How do you build a Digital Workplace where workers on the same work mission can be together (regardless of whether they WFH or from the office)?
  • How do you facilitate and manage social interactions between work colleagues?
  • What special skills do WFH managers and Team Leaders (TLs) need (and how are they different to their office-based equivalents)?
  • How do you ensure home and office-based employees receive the same training?

Sandra Busby will be joined for a Q&A panel by experienced Sensée managers Jo Hodge (Service Delivery Manager), Sam Shields (Team Leader) and Sarah Birch (Head of Business Development).

Agenda:

10.00 – 10.05: Introductions and agenda (Sandra Busby)
10.05 – 10.15: How has the contact centre industry adapted to hybrid working post lockdown (Mark Walton, CEO, Sensée)
10.15 – 10.45: Q&A panel
10.45 – 11.30: Open Floor Q&A session led by Sandra Busby

To attend, please register here

Work and career expectations are changing forever

The Washington Post recently published a study revealing that a third of all American workers under 40 – and a significant 22% of all US employees – are now seeking a new career challenge.

For some it’s because they, or a close family member, were taken ill during the pandemic. For others it’s because lockdown has led them to re-evaluate what’s really important and they’ve decided they want something different from both their work and their career.

As one law firm employee put it: “If you come out of the pandemic the same as you were, you’ve missed an opportunity to evolve and grow as a person, I just realised I needed to do better.”

The Post claims that the pandemic has created a ‘carpe diem’ effect where people have become acutely aware of how short life can be and are now questioning their life choices. In other words, Americans are fundamentally re-imagining their relationships with the workplace.

Research by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) takes this observation a step further, suggesting change is manifesting itself in a number of ways:

  • Workers feel more powerful than ever: They want better conditions, better jobs, and better pay – they mostly want more flexibility from employers.
  • Housing costs are higher: In particular, locations where it’s possible to live away from major cities and still have access to them when needed.
  • E-commerce has exploded: growing three times faster in 2020 than previously experienced.

MGI predicts that over a quarter of all office-based workers will now spend some time at home as workers come to expect greater flexibility. And it is not just in the US where attitudes are changing.

Just last week in the UK, for example, there was much debate about civil servants taking longer to return to the office than Government officials expected – with many workers claiming they don’t want to return, and that 2020 proved the business case for work from home (WFH).

When the 2020 UK HomeAgent Survey asked long term homeworkers why they work from home they gave three main reasons:

  1. To achieve a better work-life balance by fitting work hours around their other daily commitments 
  2. To eliminate time wasted commuting 
  3. To eliminate the cost of commuting 

The survey was conducted prior to lockdown. 

WFH is not the same as flexible working but they are often very close. Indeed, people who choose to WFH often do so because of the flexibility they gain to work the hours they want around their other daily commitments.

But for most employers who genuinely wish to embrace ‘flexibility’ it goes beyond just offering flexible hours. It’s about the culture of the organisation. It’s the ability to take a day off without needing to fake an illness. It’s about feeling that you are valued as a team member and knowing that the work you are doing is helping other people.

It’s not that American workers are throwing down their tools and having an existential crisis because they feel their work has no value. In many cases it’s probably because they would be happy to continue in their job, but now want the ability to balance their family life and commitments with work and to feel genuinely valued by their employer.

The kind of ‘forced WFH’ we saw at the start of the pandemic was far from flexible. In this situation, employees were expected to match their normal office hours from home – a solid 8-hour shift from the living room. WFH is an important component of the flexibility that many employees are now looking for, but it’s not the complete answer.