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.