(Free eBook) Work-Life Balance: How To Get More From Homeworking

SensĂ©e’s recently published ebook ‘How’s Your Work-Life Balance?’ explores twenty tried and tested tips to help homeworkers get a better work-life balance.

This is an important subject as over 90% of contact centre workers were working from home during lockdown (Source: Gartner) and SensĂ©e’s own research found that 86% of companies that used home working during the pandemic were considering it as a long-term strategy.

The ebook was primarily created for SensĂ©e’s own homeworkers, but is now freely available.

SensĂ©e’s homeworkers have always chosen to work-from-home (WFH) – so their situation is different to most office-based workers affected by the pandemic. However, a lot has changed since 2019. Many workers forced to WFH during the pandemic may soon be asking their employers for more flexible work schedules. And most employers are now in the process of defining how they will manage the slow return to normality that is becoming possible because of the vaccination rollout.

Everyone has different reasons for wanting to work from home. There is no typical homeworker but one reason is repeated more often than others when homeworkers are asked to explain their preference for avoiding the office: work-life balance.

If your life involves caring for children, caring for elderly relatives, living with a disability, or living in a remote location then the idea of a long commute to an office followed by eight to ten hours in an office, followed once again by a commute home isn’t a positive vision of how work should be. We all have responsibilities away from our job, but too many people are often forced to make difficult choices about how to prioritise these activities.

Many people actively seek home working opportunities because they want to balance these responsibilities with their work. They want to remain employed and to gain the sense of achievement and fulfilment we all get from working, but not at the expense of everything else in their life.

Recent research by Citrix found that 90% of Millennials and Generation Z – meaning everyone under the age of about 40 – do not want to return to full-time work based in an office. Younger workers are demanding flexibility even if they are not 100% working from home. The overwhelming number of workers demanding greater flexibility shows that a greater acceptance of working from home will be one of the major changes caused by the pandemic.

The ebook advises on setting agendas in advance, getting into a daily work routine, and reducing your distractions. It is full of tips that can help homeworkers to gain more control over their working life so it can be more easily balanced with their other responsibilities. This will be a new reality of working life in the 2020s even for those workers that occasionally need to visit their office.

Read the new SensĂ©e ebook ‘How’s Your Work-Life Balance’ by clicking here.

(Free White Paper) Did 2020 kill the BPO industry as we know it?

With contact centres facing unprecedented challenges, 2020 should have been the year when the customer management BPO sector stole the limelight.

But as Davies Consulting Group Director Mike Havard explains, it didn’t quite work out that way – at least not for the more ‘traditional’ providers.

Instead, as clients have begun to realise the opportunities from more virtual working as well as automation and digital innovations for their customer service operations, it’s time for the BPO sector to carve out a new role: as specialist providers, adding value to the customer experience rather than just helping cut operational costs.

In this paper, in collaboration with SensĂ©e, Mike considers how BPO providers can adapt to this changing landscape – and how prospective clients can ensure they’re using outsourced partners more effectively within their customer management.

View the White Paper (Best viewed in 2 page format)

 

 

 

 

 

(eBook) How’s Your Work-Life Balance?

Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to work-from-home.

For some people it is because they can’t hold down a normal 9 to 5 office job, for others it is because they prefer to work from home. There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ homeworker.

At SensĂ©e, we count amongst our numbers ….. working mums, carers for elderly relatives, people who live with a disability, others who live in remote rural areas, and people who simply prefer the convenience and benefits of homeworking.

In this guide we give 20 tips to help you get a better work-life
balance regardless of your reasons for homeworking. Here are a few of them:

1. Work the hours that suit
2. Ensure your IT equipment is up to scratch
3. Communication is vital to combat isolation so make sure you stay in touch!
4. Get into a regular daily routine
5. Keep distractions to a minimum
6. Find yourself a dedicated workspace

To read the rest of our 20 tips, please view our Work-Life Balance eBook

SensĂ©e supports Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre

SensĂ©e was pleased to support the fantastic work of Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre at Forth Valley Royal Hospital near Falkirk, Scotland as part of its sponsorship of the recent 2021 Leaders In Service Summit.

The Summit was  held on 12 May and organised by Rutz Consulting, a leading operational excellence consultancy within the contact centre industry.

Monies raised at the event will go towards a patient’s full day cancer treatment at the Centre.

Maggie’s is a charity providing free cancer support and information in centres across the UK and online.

_Leaders in Service_LIVE WEBINAR SoMe image 1 sponsors

(Webinar) A Hybrid Hub and Spoke Model or 100% Work-from-Home?

– Hybrid home/office models compared –

19th May 2021, 12.00 till 12.45PM (BST)

In this webinar, CX advisor Peter Ryan will be joined by work-from-home (WFH) specialists Sensée to discuss the merits and pitfalls of various hybrid home/office options for post lockdown working.

These include:

  • The 100% WFH + 100% Office model: Where an employee either works @home or from the office.
  • The Part Time Home/ Part Time Office model: Where an employee works some days @home and some days from the office.
  • The Hybrid Hub and Spoke model: Where an employee works (at least some days) from a smaller satellite office rather than their employer’s main office.

How do you decide what option will work best for your organisation? Who will work best from home, and who from the office? How do you treat @home and office workers consistently and fairly?

Peter will be joined by Mark Walton (CEO) and Rob Smale (CXO and Director Consultancy Services) at 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 work-from-home and hybrid working issues

Register for the webinar

(Free eBook) How we can successfully implement hybrid working at scale

This eBook follows a Working Mums virtual roundtable on 27th April on the subject “How we can successfully implement hybrid working at scale”.  The event was sponsored by SensĂ©e.

The roundtable featured HR and operational professionals from: Axis, AWE plc, British Transport Police, Financial Services Compensation Service, FDM Group, Flexibility.co.uk, Human Tissue Authority, John Lewis Partnership, L&Q, Odeon Cinemas Group, Sensée, SMS plc, St Albans City Council, Starling Bank, Taylor Wimpey, Transport for London and Verizon Media.

The eBook features Top 20 takeaways.

Here are 10 of those takeaways:

  1. Develop a hybrid working mindset
  2. Don’t import office systems to a remote landscape
  3. Start with tasks and what can be done better
  4. Keep everything dynamic and avoid rigid processes
  5. Design the work and then the workplace
  6. Question traditional views about how things work
  7. Think about different forms of flexibility for all your employees, not just those who can work remotely to avoid a sense of ‘them and us’
  8. Consider building an online collaborative digital workspace where everyone can see who is available and what they are doing
  9. Think of everyone being equally remote
  10. Consider dynamic or working on shared documents instead of meetings and think about the purpose of meetings

To discover the other 10 takeaways, download our free eBook

LiveDesk named ‘Remote Team Communication and Collaboration’ innovation of the year

SensĂ©e is delighted to announce that its LiveDeskℱ Digital Workplace Creation Tool was named Remote Team Communication & Collaboration innovation of the year at the 2021 National Innovation Awards. The winners were announced at a virtual gala event on 11th May.

About LiveDesk

LiveDesks are user customisable Digital Workplaces for communications and collaboration. They unify home and office workers on the same work mission, ensuring everyone is on the same page, by having access to the same information, knowledge, care and support wherever they work from.

LiveDesks are easy to create and manage. Managers have a range of LiveDesk ‘pods’ at their disposal to build tailored workspaces best suited to their needs and work mission, including features such as:

  • Intelligent Chat: enabling advisers to quickly get help from team members, subject matter experts and virtual floorwalkers, tracking Q&A trends.
  • Bulletins & Alerts: keeping advisors updated on major service issues, ensuring everyone is on the beat (and thereby removing reliance on email).
  • Mood & Engagement Pulse: tracking engagement of users across home and office.
  • Social Spaces: enabling private chat rooms for breaks and socialising for engagement.
  • Digital Workplace Dashboards: tracking users frequency, complexity and trends of questions and knowledge needs to have clear capability flightpaths.
  • Teams / Meet / Zoom Facilitation: helping users organise and manage sessions etc. with webcams, voice and screen-sharing.

LiveDesks are always-on but only open during work hours and when managers (key holders) are logged in. They effectively level the hybrid office operating field.

LiveDesk is part of Sensée Cloudworks, a technology ecosystem for hybrid workplaces that comprises unique and innovative homeworking solutions for remote recruitment & onboarding, resource scheduling, communications & collaboration, and security/compliance.

About the National Innovation Awards 2021

The theme for 2021 was ‘technology innovation that improves Work From Home capability, productivity and experience’.

The judges received over 300 submissions. Other 2021 Awards winners were: Noetica & Avoira, Intradiem, Blue Prism, NICE inContact and Medallia.

Jon Snow, Chairman of Directors Club United Kingdom and Convenor of Judges for the 2021 Awards, commented: “Working from home or anywhere is the operational legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic. These 2021 awards set out to highlight the technology developers who are making the distributed workforce not only possible but high performing. One reason the UK National Innovation Awards are respected so widely, is the way they are judged. All our judges are senior business leaders from the organisations that would benefit from the technology innovations being judged. All categories are judged on the quality of the business outcomes that the innovations deliver.”

“We are a 100% WFH business and have been designing, creating and managing hybrid workplaces with our partners since our humble beginnings 17 years ago” said Steve Mosser, CEO and CIO, Cloudworks. “The last 12 months have been the most significant in our history. We’ve had the opportunity to work with many of the UK’s top private and public sector organisations, helping them understand and embrace the opportunities that homeworking can deliver. The adoption of purpose-built technology solutions is absolutely key to work-from-home being established as a viable long-term option for employees and organisations. We are delighted that LiveDesk has been recognised by contact centre industry leaders at these Awards.”

What Will An ‘Acceptable Professional’ Eventually Look Like When Working-From-Home?

2020 was a challenge, even for those who didn’t face a healthcare emergency. For many people it not only involved an adjustment to working from home, but also a dramatic shift in social norms and values. Zoom has become a verb in the past year and virtual happy hours have been an unlikely respite from the crisis.

But what about 2021? Picture the situation, you’re trying to impress a new client, or you are on a review call with your boss, or even a job interview. But now that you are working from home (WFH) you are struggling to come across as the professional you want to be seen as.

Maybe your broadband keeps cutting in and out or your cat keeps walking in front of the camera? Your dog is barking because there is a delivery at the front door, or your kids are home-schooling and creating a lot more noise than studying kids should really be creating. Is your presentation affecting your chances of that new job or new contract?

These are unprecedented times. Values have been changing quickly, just look at how unusual it is to see anyone wearing a tie today. Everyone is aware of the difficulties of working from home, especially for those who have been suddenly forced into this situation by the pandemic.

But this will not always be the case. It is now more than a year since most office-based professionals needed to move into a WFH environment. The noisy kids and rogue cats were easily tolerated in May 2020, but by May 2021 everyone has had a long period to adjust.

As we exit the lockdowns many people will return to their office. Some will choose to continue in a WFH environment and some will be asked by their company to stay at home. There will be a change in attitude as some normality returns.

If you are migrating from the office to a permanent WFH environment then I doubt that people will always be so forgiving in future. It is no longer an emergency situation or something forced upon unwilling employees. If you are choosing to remain at home then you need to start considering what does an acceptable professional WFH environment really look like?

For important meetings, clients will not expect to see people in hoodies, at kitchen tables, with pets and poor connectivity. The flexibility and casualness that we all experienced during the midst of the pandemic will start to dissolve as we all have a choice to project a more professional image.

As WFH becomes more of a choice than a necessity, and companies break down the barriers between office-based and WFH employees, I believe that expectations of WFH professionalism will unquestionably increase. And while it’s unlikely that companies will issue a rule book, WFH employees might want to review:

  • What they wear
  • Their video background
  • Background noise
  • Timekeeping
  • Tone of communication
  • Connectivity
  • Privacy
  • Health and safety
  • Security
  • Communications equipment

It’s great news that so many people are being vaccinated now and 2021 holds the promise of some normality. For those who choose to remain at home, just take a moment to think about how to project yourself because (hopefully) this crisis should now be in the past.

Double success for Sensée at the 2021 Forum Awards

Work-from-home specialist SensĂ©e has won an Innovation and Transformation Award for ‘Engaged Homeworking’ at the 2021 Forum Awards. The company also received a Highly Commended Partnership Award for its groundbreaking homeworking partnership with Bupa at the gala awards evening on Friday 23rd April.

The Innovation and Transformation Award recognised the transformational impact that SensĂ©e’s LiveDeskℱ and TeamTonicÂź homeworking solutions have had on SensĂ©e’s contact centre outsourcing operation, as well as on the customer contact operations of clients including Ageas, Utility Warehouse and Bupa:

  • LiveDeskℱ Digital Workplaces unify people, wherever they are, so that they are on the same work mission. LiveDesk provides macro-collaboration and communication tools so people are highly engaged, well supported and continuously informed.
  • TeamTonicÂź is a self-rostering Scheduler that empowers @home staff to schedule work around their home lives and obligations. By keeping clear of home life work disruptions people are free from conflicting shift anxiety while employers can be confident that they are focused, productive and adhering to schedules.

SensĂ©e’s partnership with Bupa started with a simple homeworking pilot in 2014 and has grown into a comprehensive and multi-faceted outsourced service that today involves 180 contact centre advisers. SensĂ©e advisers not only provide high quality service but handle customer contacts very cost effectively – with highly efficient HomeAgent scheduling key to the cost savings generated. Homeworking lessons learnt through the partnership were instrumental in Bupa making a swift and highly effective transition to homeworking within its own operations at the start of lockdown.

The Awards event was organised and operated by the Forum, a professional community for best practice and professional development in customer operations. The Forum comprises four separate forums for: Planning & Resourcing, Analytics & Insight, Customer Experience, and Strategy & Leadership.

Other winners at the 2021 Forum Awards included North Yorkshire County Council, Hoist Finance, Serco, Capita, Loop, NHS Business Authority, Click Mechanic, Lloyds Banking Group, Domestic & General,

“Well done to the Forum for putting on a fantastic and highly entertaining event” said Mark Walton, CEO, SensĂ©e. “We are very proud of the hard work and dedication of our homeworking teams during the lockdown period and delighted that their achievements have been recognised with these Awards.”

“Over the past year, many organisations have introduced working from home, without embedding homeworking. SensĂ©e has demonstrated how homeworking is done, both sustainably and at a high level of performance, engaging employees and driving operational insight” said Phil Anderson, a Director at the Forum.

New Survey Paints Positive Picture of Employee Engagement During Lockdown

– Homeworking is here to stay say top UK contact centres –

Throughout lockdown, business leaders have debated the tricky issue of how best to engage and support their people while working from home.

However, according to a major new industry survey “The 2021 Contact Centre People Engagement Survey”, 81% of Agents/Advisers – and 56% of Directors/Managers – say that People Engagement in their Contact Centres is not a problem.

322 UK Contact Centre Directors, Managers, Agents and Advisers took part in the online study conducted by trade bodies the South West Contact Centre Forum and Call North West. Survey responses were collected between January 11th and March 12th 2021 and participants came from a broad range of Contact Centres from different industries. Separate detailed questionnaires were run for Directors/Managers and Agents/Advisers. The survey was supported by homeworking specialist Sensée.

The “2021 Contact Centre People Engagement Survey” provides valuable insight into the current state of People Engagement within the contact centre industry – at a time when the predominant workplace is the home office.

70% of Agents/Advisers responding to the survey say that they mainly worked in bricks and mortar contact centres prior to lockdown and have now switched to mainly working from home….. and the majority feel that the switch has gone well.

Despite media headlines suggesting organisations have struggled to manage their colleagues in a work-from-home setting, most Contact Centre Advisers say that their Managers have adapted well to the switch: 57% say Very Well and 29% say Well.

And there’s more good news when it comes to the current state of ‘manager-employee’ and ‘team’ engagement.

85% of Agents/Advisers Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “Communication between senior leaders and employees in my organisation is good”…. with 83% of Directors and Managers concurring. In a similar vein, 94% of Agents/Advisers, and 99% of Directors and Managers, Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “My manager/contact centre team and I have a good working relationship”. Virtually nobody disagreed.

Mental Health

Concerns over the impact of employee isolation on mental health while people are working-from-home have frequently been aired over the last 12 months.

However our survey reveals that Agents/Advisers are generally happy with the efforts their employers are making at supporting their needs. When asked “Do you think your organisation adequately addresses the Mental Health & Well Being concerns of its employees?”, 73% of Agents/Advisers say yes and only 8% say no.

The survey also revealed the breadth of measures employers were taking to address concerns. When Directors/Managers were asked “How do you monitor Health & Well Being within your teams?” 36% cite Formal Questionnaires, 29% Video Checks and 40% Occupational Health reports. But the most common approach is simply to talk. 89% of Directors/Managers cite Informal Conversations to discuss Health & Well Being concerns and 71% Formal Conversations.

Ethical Business

Finally, our survey reveals a growing recognition amongst employees of the role that their employer plays in broader society.

90% of Agents/Advisers Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “My organisation has taken steps to ensure that it acts as a responsible member of society” as did almost all Directors/Managers (i.e. 99%)

Likewise, 96% of Directors/Managers Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “My organisation is dedicated to diversity and inclusiveness”, together with 91% of Agents/Advisers.

And the future?

Perhaps not surprisingly, work-from-home is expected to continue to play a significant role in the contact centre industry for the foreseeable future.

Only 43% of Agents/Advisers believe they will be 100% returning to the office. 57% therefore believe they will be homeworking, with the majority of those splitting their time between their home and the office.

Intriguingly, when asked what percentage of their adviser population would be working from home in 2022, 60% of Directors/Managers say that they expect 50% or more to be working full or part time at home, with just 4% predicting a full return to the office.

“It’s great to report that colleagues in the contact centre industry feel so overwhelmingly positive towards People Engagement issues – especially after the last 12 months” said Jane Thomas, Managing Director of the South West Contact Centre Forum and Call North West. “Our survey shows that progress is being made in key areas such as mental health support, building team cohesion and running ethical, inclusive and socially-responsible business. However, while organisations can take credit for these achievements, the job is far from complete.”

“The survey results are extremely interesting, particularly as they counter many of the negative perceptions about People Engagement in the age of ‘forced’ homeworking” said Mark Walton, CEO, SensĂ©e. “Moving forward, the challenge will not be so much about making homeworking work – organisations have had a year to do that – it will be about defining long term strategies. Who will work from the office and who will work from home? How will we manage, communicate, schedule, train our ‘hybrid’ workforces? What new technology platforms will we need? We maybe entering an era of extreme uncertainly but there’s never been a better time to take a step back and make meaningful changes to modernise and transform UK business.”

To view the “The 2021 Contact Centre People Engagement Survey” eBook, please go to

https://www.sensee.co.uk/resources/eBooks.aspx?eb=power-of-engagement-final

The eBook is best viewed in 2 page (i.e. side by side) view, and there is no need to register.