Sensée wins Creative Campaign Award for its ‘commitment to Greening the Planet’

We’re thrilled to announce that Sensée has won a prestigious Award for its commitment to green issues.

The Creative Campaign Award was presented to Sensée at the Treedom UK Awards on Thursday 22nd September in recognition of the ‘consistent innovation that the company has shown to communicating its commitment to Greening the Planet’.

Treedom described the Sensée & Treedom partnership as ‘an excellent example of how to maximise Treedom’s digital platform to connect and delight people wherever they are in the world’.

During its first year in the UK, Treedom has begun working with over 100 partners, planting nearly 61,000 trees.

The “How Doing Good is Good for Business” event in Central London, which included the Treedom UK awards, included speeches from Treedom partners and from its CEO Federico Garcea.

Sensée, established 18 years ago and with no physical contact centres, already has an estimated 90% lower carbon footprint than a typical office-based contact centre.

Launched in October 2021, the Sensée Forest, in partnership with Treedom, will contain nearly 3000 trees, each gifted to permanent Sensée employees over a three year period – with each person able to select their own tree species, in the territory of their choice, using the Treedom web platform.

 

(Pic: Sensée Chief People Officer Brigitte Gratton accepting the Creative Campaign Award at the 2022 Treedom UK Awards)

Will Higher Energy Bills Have An Impact On Where We Work?

A headline in the Daily Mail recently screamed: “Is this the end for working from home? Britons who shun the office could pay up to an extra £209 a month in energy costs this winter, warn experts, who say rising bills could drive people back to their desks.”

It sounds logical. If workers are staying at home all day, rather than visiting the office, then heating your workspace and using the kettle all day will just add to your own personal energy bills. Perhaps it makes sense to spend all day in a warm heated office where hot drinks are freely available?

The UK is in the midst of an energy price crisis at present. At the end of August,  MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’ve been accused of catastrophising over this situation. Well, the reason I have catastrophised is this is a catastrophe, plain and simple. If we do not get further government intervention on top of what was announced in May, lives will be lost this winter.”

The Daily Mail is focusing on these fears of greater price increases and how this may affect our ability to heat homes and pay for typical energy use. However, the same article also suggests that working from home is seriously impacting mental health. It quotes the cultural writer Malcolm Gladwell from a recent podcast interview saying: “It’s very hard to feel necessary when you’re physically disconnected,” adding that “as we face the battle that all organisations are facing now in getting people back into the office, it’s really hard to explain this core psychological truth, which is that we want to have a feeling of belonging and to feel necessary.”

So what’s the reality? 

Yes energy bills are getting more expensive, but it’s worth looking at the end of the Daily Mail article for some clarification on their data. There is a very small correction to the article that admits the headline data is based on mid-winter usage. Effectively when creating the headline figures for how much it costs to work from home, the newspaper is suggesting that each year has twelve Januaries.

The Malcolm Gladwell description of corporate culture is also misleading. Many companies sent workers home with very little support in the early days of the pandemic. If they continue to have no support system, and tools to interact with, in 2022 then it’s easy to agree with Gladwell. The reality is that companies have embraced remote and hybrid workers and created systems that allow workplace interaction and social activities. Culture really isn’t created by meeting in office canteens, it is built by teams that know there is a value in the work they are performing.

Most employees don’t want to give up on the flexibility that working from home offers. It’s easy to imagine that most of us could place a cash value on the flexibility we get when working from home. Not just the immediate gains from removing the cost of commuting, but also all those expensive coffees and snacks in addition to overpriced sandwiches at lunchtime. 

These direct costs can also be combined with the value of flexibility. Would you work for less if you could see your family more often or have the flexibility to help a family member that requires care at home? Many people would. If you combine this theoretical “value of flexibility” with the cost of commuting and buying lunch at the office then the energy bills are not quite as scary as the media would lead us to believe.

The new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has announced a freeze on energy price increases so the reality at present is ever-changing. This plan aims to limit the average maximum household energy bill to around £2,500 annually for the next two years – during which time a longer term solution has to be created. This is not a cheap solution for the government, but it does allow consumers to plan ahead with more confidence than they had a month ago.

Whatever happens, working from home creates enormous value in supporting employee flexibility and diversity. To suggest that the value of flexibility cannot be compared to energy bills is absurd. Newspapers often have a specific agenda or opinion, but it is disheartening to see so many facts about workplace culture clearly ignored just for a misleading headline.

Corporate Culture Is More Than Just Time Spent At The Water Cooler

It’s now September 2022. This is the month that Apple has decided that staff must be back in the office for at least three days per week. Apple CEO Tim Cook is tired of remote work and has ordered that this move is essential to “preserve the in-person collaboration that is so essential to our culture”.

Many companies have explored hybrid work as the threat from the Covid pandemic has subsided. This has naturally led to a problem of coordination. How do you ensure that in-person collaboration can take place if people are flexible about when they are in the office? Many people are now posting on business networks, like LinkedIn, that they are back in the office, but just using Zoom or Teams all day.

Tim Cook’s message is that Tuesday and Thursday are essential office days, with the third day to be defined by team leaders. This has the advantage of enforcing some days where people will be working together, but does it fly in the face of the flexibility that workers now expect after two years of proving their value and productivity without enforced time in the office?

New research by Culture Partners indicates that corporate culture is what makes people both more productive and likely to stay with your company. Enforcing time in the office does not contribute to an improved culture. A September 2022 survey indicated that 6 out of 10 workers are “extremely likely” to leave their job if flexibility around hours and location is not maintained.

CNN reported on this survey by interviewing the Chief Scientist of Workplace Culture at Culture Partners, Jessica Kreigel, who said: “Culture is what drives results. It’s not water cooler talk. It’s not whether you are playing ping pong at the office. It’s really about the experiences we co-create, which can absolutely happen on a Zoom or telephone call. We don’t need to be together in person. These experiences drive our beliefs about the work we do and whether we are contributing something valuable.”

The danger is real. Some leaders really believe that culture can only be created and nurtured through in-person contact rather than by creating a workplace experience that employees truly value.

The fallout is potentially immense. As this survey suggests, around two thirds of people are no longer prepared to accept an inflexible employer. If you want to start enforcing when employees have to be in the office then any loyalty will be discarded as people head for the exit and a new job with a more flexible employer. Even Apple has seen this with very senior employees leaving the company specifically because they have rearranged their life during the pandemic and enforced time in the office is no longer personally acceptable.

But this trend will apply at all levels. After two years of being able to see kids at breakfast and having the flexibility to manage family responsibilities around work, there are not many people that would seriously reject flexibility in favour of more time at the water cooler. 

Companies that enforce this could also see a dramatic impact on their efforts to increase diversity as well. Women are likely to prioritise caring responsibilities over a return to the office so it’s easy to imagine a twin-track of employees being created – younger people (and especially men without significant family responsibilities) sitting in the office and everyone else working remotely. And proximity bias is almost certain if all managers are based in the office.

HR leaders can see the issues and there’s an obvious danger of reducing flexibility. Hopefully they can advise their executive teams before leadership creates an employee exodus. Treat your employees as adults. Respect their desire to maintain more flexibility and focus on building a positive culture that embraces everyone – at home or in the office.

(Webinar) Optimising Customer and Employee Experience in a Hybrid World

COMPLIMENTARY WEBINAR

WEDNESDAY SEPT 21ST, 12 – 1PM (BST)

As most organisations discovered during lockdown, managing work-from-home (WFH) personnel isn’t easy.

However as companies learnt the basics about WFH recruitment, training, collaboration and scheduling, many found the transition from office to home beneficial for employers, employees and customers.

Fast forward to today’s hybrid (home/office) world and the goalposts have moved again.

It’s no longer just a question of making WFH work. It’s now about making the whole work – not just the part – keeping home and office team members on the same page, and serving everyone fairly & consistently – independent of location. Key to this is creating new workflows that optimise the employee experience – and ultimately the customer experience too.

This webinar will focus on key hybrid working business challenges and the technology transformation required to meet those challenges in the new world of work.

Cloudworks CEO and Sensée founder Steve Mosser will be joined by a Sensée Hybrid Working Team Leader to discuss a range of topical current issues.

Register for the webinar