Sensée and Bupa homeworking team scoops outsourcing prize at the 2022 Northern Contact Centre Awards

We’re thrilled to announce that the Sensée and Bupa customer service homeworking team was named Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year at the 2022 Northern Contact Centre Awards on Friday night.  

The annual Northern Awards is a celebration of contact centre excellence for businesses operating in the North of England. Other winners on the evening included AXA Health, Brandon Hire Station, Crown Commercial Service, IAG Loyalty, NFU Mutual, and Virgin Media O2.

The event was organised and operated by Call North West, a networking organisation that supports over 700 contact centres in the region.

“We are extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of the Bupa homeworking team and delighted that their achievements have been recognised with this Award” said Paul Whymark, Chief Operating Officer, Sensée.

 

(Online workshop): Health & Well Being – Looking after your homeworkers

Chair: Sandra Busby, Welsh Contact Centre Forum
Date: Wed Nov 30th 2022
Time: 10.00 to 11.30am

There’s been no more important topic in 2022 and, as we look to 2023, no signs that Health and Well Being (H&WB) will be any less of a challenge next year.

Nobody ever pretended that the New World of Work would be easy but few foresaw the scale of the Cost of Living crisis that we’re now living through.

In this online workshop we look to share experiences and ask how to better look after the H&WB of your homeworkers.

We will ask…. how do you:

  • Tackle loneliness amongst remote workers?
  • Coach advisers to better serve vulnerable customers?
  • Effectively communicate to @home employees – and make sure that they have read and understood your comms?
  • Ensure @home and office advisers are all on the same page?
  • Manage the ‘now’ (together with standard ‘line’ management)?

Register for the online workshop today

New Hybrid Work Policies Are Ignoring The Fact That Work Is Now Distributed

With the pandemic restrictions gone and many employees wanting to remain at home, organisations are frantically re-rewriting the rules of the workplace to allow hybrid working – giving employees the flexibility to work at home, in the office, or both.

But who is defining these policies and how they work? If you read the journals supporting Human Resources professionals then it looks very much like them. HR magazines and blogs are filled with tips on how to build the most flexible hybrid employee policies while remaining supportive and productive.

But what is the reality for employees? As Bloomberg recently documented, many employees are coming into the office – because their boss says they must spend 2-3 days a week at the office – only to sit at their desk on Zoom calls because colleagues are not in the office.

Some companies are mandating which days employees must be in the office. Other executives think that employees should self-organise. The Eat Sleep Work Repeat podcast advises Wednesday + 1 other day as mandatory.

People Management magazine recently published an article asking if it’s now time for HR to revise flexible work policies. The “common problems” are empty offices on Monday and Friday, employees staying at home for more days than agreed, a lack of atmosphere in offices, and senior employees setting the wrong example by working from home.

Are we setting the wrong example? Is presenteeism making a comeback?

It is easy to argue that much of the current hybrid debate is too HR-focused and that organisations should be spending more time getting to grips with the broader question “what exactly will the future of work look like?” 

Yes, careers, employee support, work hours, training, safety etc. will all be part of the answer but what is the reality outside of the HR bubble?

There are several things that ‘forced’ WFH during lockdown taught us. That people enjoy flexibility during the workday for example. They don’t want to commute. They want to be judged by what they do, rather than how long they are seen at a desk. 

These are not only problems that HR need to fix by creating new rules around which days employees have flexibility and which days they do not. We need to accept that work itself has fundamentally changed. How it is performed and how employers and employees relate to each other. Expectations have been adjusted.

What’s also needed is a focus on the tools that facilitate a distributed workforce. Forget about hybrid and how many days are work from home or office days. Just design your work platform so everyone can work together no matter where they are located.

Our Digital Workplace at Sensée is a technology platform that allows teams to interact, work together, and even socialise… and it doesn’t matter if they are at home, at the office, or in a rented meeting room. Everyone can connect and engage.

This is the modern reality of work. A distributed team that isn’t sitting alone in an office cubicle on Zoom. It is a team that is together virtually, no matter where each individual is working today.

It’s time for the people that do the work to start defining how work really functions today, rather than waiting for the right HR policies. The digital workplace does need rules about where people work but it also needs so much more.

Even The UK Government Is Now Selling Its Offices

In April this year it was reported that government efficiency minister Jacob Rees-Mogg was visiting civil service offices in London and leaving notes on desks saying ‘sorry you were out when I visited.’ The implication was that the government wanted the civil service back in offices as soon as possible.

Spin forward to August and Mr Rees-Mogg announced that over £1.5 billion worth of government buildings in London are to be sold. The announcement also said that a further £500m will be saved by no longer managing these buildings, handing the government a very welcome saving of over £2 billion.

The government offices were characterised in the announcement as ‘half empty”, although a quick look at the key government buildings shows they are 44% full on average, with occupancy levels ranging from 30% at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to 72% at the Ministry of Defence.

Some might question the government for its sudden conversion to remote work. Others will say they  saw the light. Why should a modern organisation – such as a national government – own or rent billions worth of offices in central London?

Professor Nick Bloom of Stanford University recently presented an online lecture where he explored the impact of working from home on offices in city centres – you can read his lecture notes here. He suggested several trends:

  • Offices that remain must be high quality, to attract employees to use them
  • Cubicles and meeting rooms are being added – the office is becoming a much more purpose built meeting space
  • Support services such as IT, payroll, HR benefits are being outsourced or moved out of offices completely

What Professor Bloom and the British government are both indicating is that the days of the office as a factory for professional employees to sit in row upon row of desks is finished.

It’s better for many professional employees to work from home. They can focus more. They can be more productive. They no longer need to spend a large chunk of their day commuting and creating congestion. When we look back on the twentieth and early twenty-first century it will seem astonishing that workers who spend all day on calls or answering emails would happily endure the time and expense of long commutes to do this.

In very many respects, working from home is better for the planet and better for our cities. As offices are emptied and sold – like the government offices in London – there is an opportunity to rethink how our city centres look and feel. People used to live very close to their workplace – it was the development of railways that created the opportunity for people to live some distance from their workplace. Now we are seeing an important shift as the need for offices is disconnected from employment.

As Nick Bloom suggests, it is likely that many companies will retain some office space, but it will have a very different purpose to the offices that were designed to be everyday workplaces. Modern offices will be designed for meetings and events. They are places that will be only occasionally visited – they are for teams to get together after a big sales win or for a department town hall.

Sensée has always focused on work from home as a natural way to work for many people. It’s good to see that so many researchers – and even governments – have now seen the light.