What Can Business Leaders Do Now That COP26 Is Over?

The United Nations COP26 climate change conference recently closed in Glasgow. COP stands for Conference of the Parties and this is an annual event that has been held each year (except 2020) since 1994.

Countries that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are invited to attend each COP and – as you will remember from a few weeks ago – the conference generates a huge amount of media coverage, but what does it mean for companies? Should companies and individuals be paying attention to a UN conference?

After all, it’s one thing for governments and regulators to set standards and guidelines, but for real societal change to happen it needs to come from regular people. This is where companies can start influencing behaviour because companies have employees, customers, and suppliers all connected together in their supply chain.

The advisory firm McKinsey has a sustainability practice and they recently published advice on where and how business leaders can take lessons from the COP discussions. You can follow the link to read the detailed advice, but I think the top five principles suggested by McKinsey are worth repeating:

  • Net zero is now an organising principle for business: there is no longer a question about whether your company needs to take action, this is becoming a principle that all companies need to take action on.
  • Companies can gain advantage by translating pledges into plans: many business leaders have made pledges and set future targets, now turn those pledges into real action and start delivering.
  • Markets and institutions are needed to channel capital: investors are looking for green opportunities, the finance is coming. Your business may attract interest specifically because you are taking action on climate change.
  • Using greener materials will mitigate risk: some industries will struggle to quickly achieve net zero – steel or cement production for example – but the faster you can start on the journey, the lower the risk of future supply chain problems.
  • Be open and transparent: use digital tools and automation to measure your net zero progress and publish the information openly, don’t submit the absolute minimum to a government annually – embrace this journey.

The McKinsey analysis is pragmatic, but also emphatic. It’s now time to change and time to start taking action. The report concludes: “Notwithstanding any debate about whether COP26 was a success, the general direction for business has been established. Momentum has shifted toward net zero, providing businesses with a new organising principle. The transition to net zero will be complicated. The best leaders can hope for is that it will be relatively orderly, rather than punctuated by sudden, unexpected shifts.”

That is a call to action. Across all industries and in companies large and small, there needs to be a shift from pledges to plans. This is how the world will address the risk, with each company gradually changing the behaviour of their employees, partners, and customers. 

Click here for more sustainability insights from McKinsey.

Sensée recognised at 2021 European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards

Work-from-home and hybrid workplace specialist SensĂ©e was recognised with two winners trophies at the 2021 European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards’ (ECCCSA) Gala Dinner.

The  event took place on the evening of Tuesday 23rd November 2021 at Evolution in Battersea Park, London.

Silver winner for Best Flexible Working Approach, Sensée was also named bronze winner for Best Outsourcing Partnership (small) with its partner Ageas.

“Congratulations to the CCMA for putting on a lavish and entertaining evening that celebrated everything that’s great about our industry” said Mark Walton, CEO, SensĂ©e. “And, of course, a  massive thank you to every member of the SensĂ©e family that contributed to our success. To be recognised at the ECCCSAs – in the company of the very best organisations within the European CX industry – is a huge achievement.”

Sensée has a homeworking team of 1400 Customer Service Advisors, Trainers, Team Leaders, Managers and support personnel and manages customer contacts for leading brands such as Bupa, Ageas and Allianz Partners.

The European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards (ECCCSAs) recognises organisations across Europe that are leading the way in delivering exceptional service to customers.



Silver ECCCSA Sensee




Is Flexibility Key to Addressing ‘The Great Resignation’?

From April to September this year almost 20 million Americans quit their job and moved on to something else. Often they didn’t have a job to immediately move to, they were just tired of staying in their existing job.

This Great Resignation is being repeated across the world and is partly a result of people staying in jobs through the pandemic, when they were already thinking of moving. Now many regions are getting back to some normality, they felt it was time to make the move. However, as analysts such as McKinsey have noted, there is another important factor – people are demanding more flexibility from their job.

A recent McKinsey paper on this subject talks about what post-pandemic employees are seeking: “They want a renewed and revised sense of purpose in their work. They want social and interpersonal connections with their colleagues and managers. They want to feel a sense of shared identity. Yes, they want pay, benefits, and perks, but more than that they want to feel valued by their organizations and managers. They want meaningful—though not necessarily in-person—interactions, not just transactions.”

Unless you are extremely lucky, you need to go to work to pay your bills. This is the reason that many people stick with jobs they don’t enjoy, but something is happening here – people are really demanding that their employers start offering more flexible relationships, rather than the very transactional nature of repetitive work – the same time, the same place, every single day.

Recent research into the gig economy really shone a light on this desire for more flexibility. Gig workers are about as flexible as it comes. They usually use a platform that gives them the work and they can log in and out when they choose.

The Harvard research examined over 400,000 food delivery riders working for the Doordash app in California – typically they are collecting food from restaurants and delivering it to the home. The researchers asked about the value of flexibility and what the effect would be if the app were more like a traditional employer and demanded they check in and out and certain times – like a normal working day. 

The riders suggested that this would be like a 17% drop in pay – so the value of being flexible is approximately the pay received for one day of work per week. That’s a large percentage attributed to flexibility.

In the customer service environment many commentators have suggested that working from home offers flexibility. Although SensĂ©e has always been focused on allowing its employees to work from home, most others in the industry used office-based centres until the pandemic started. Now they are facing a dilemma – bring everyone back into the office or continue to allow them to work from home?

The real point here is that it is not just working from home that creates a flexible work environment. Working from home has the potential to be a more flexible working model because it removes the requirement for commuting and it may allow many more people to participate in the workforce – people who would find it difficult to commute to an office and work a long shift.

Employees working from home do not automatically have flexibility just by being away from the office. Employers need to change their approach to management and communication and build tools that allow employees to engage with colleagues, socialise, self-select their work hours, and be measured based on their input to the team. Presenteeism doesn’t work in this environment. 

A work from home customer service team has the possibility to be far more flexible than one based in a contact centre, but it requires thought and planning. Flexibility isn’t automatic – even at home.

Is Workplace Culture at the Heart of the Hybrid Debate?

The world of work remains shrouded in uncertainty. On the one hand the general unlocking of Covid restrictions has meant businesses can operate almost as normal again. On the other, despite the government assuring the public that there will not be a new lockdown given that so many people are vaccinated, there are still cases….. and winter is coming.

As things stand, workers can return to their offices – if they are not already back there. But is a complete return to normal (i.e. everyone in the office Monday to Friday, 9-5) the future? Or should organisations be planning on an altogether different workplace?

The security company Kaspersky recently published research suggesting that 67% of workers are now more comfortable working from home.  However it also points to hurdles that organisations betting on a predominantly work from home (WFH) model need to address. 36% of those surveyed said that they were more tired when WFH, and 33% said that it made them more anxious. 

The research highlights a dilemma that many organisations feel. With so many people preferring WFH, it clearly doesn’t make sense to force everyone back to the office. Yet, as of today, that’s not always a realistic option. Not, at least, until businesses can adequately address the WFH issues people are reporting – from a lack of private home workspace, to health and well being concerns. 

Nevertheless, the Kaspersky findings suggests that 45% of companies have already decided to go completely ‘hybrid’. Companies such as IWG have also seen a large number of companies signing up to their office packages – allowing employees to generally work from home, yet with access to city-centre offices when required.

HR Director magazine likewise suggests that, although only 12.4% of teams are going back to the office every day, there remain significant challenges ahead. It argues that ‘remote’ team members must build connections and have some way of accessing and feeling the culture of their organisation – while managers must avoid a twin-track culture where in-office employees are front-of-mind for promotions and bonuses. The article suggests throwing the rule book away – arguing that everything we think we know about HR no longer applies. I think that is a fair statement. It is far easier to plan corporate culture and team building if everyone is together in the office or everyone is working remotely. The hybrid model is altogether more complex.

What is the value in working from the office if you are endlessly on Zoom calls because others in your team are at home? Should the company mandate which days are flexible so there are some days when everyone is in the office? Or let employees decide? The list of questions gets longer and longer when you think about how to manage a work environment that is not completely WFH or office-based.

I believe the focus needs to be on leadership and values. Most managers will have adapted to WFH management to some degree by now, even though some will be keen to return to in-person supervision. As the HR Director piece suggests, it’s time to move on from the idea of an in-person or remote world – every company will have their own individual challenges and it’s not going to be in any HR guidebook.

Thinking carefully about how your company fosters collaboration and connection – both for business and social connections – will be key. The 100% WFH SensĂ©e team manages this through everyone using the same Digital Workplace to connect for work as well as social conversations, even adding-in office-based personnel that are on the same work mission to ensure team unity.

Culture is at the heart of this debate. Combine the best of WFH with the best of the office (in a flexible way) and you could just become an employer of choice. Get it wrong and your business may struggle in the more flexible post-pandemic world.