(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

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.

Sensée launches new Employee Assistance Program for its homeworking teams

SensĂ©e has launched a new Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in partnership with Health Assured – the UK and Ireland’s leading wellbeing provider.

The EAP is a confidential employee benefit designed to help people deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting their home or work life, health, and general wellbeing.

The Health Assured EAP service provides a complete support network that offers expert advice and compassionate guidance 24/7, and covers a wide range of issues:

● Life support: Access to counselling for emotional problems and a pathway to structured therapy sessions (employees only) at your convenience. Formal counselling could be either face to face or via video.
● Legal information: For issues that cause anxiety or distress including debt management, consumer, property or neighbour disputes (employees only).
● Bereavement support: Health Assured offers qualified and experienced counsellors who can help with grief plus legal advisors to help with related legal matters.
● Medical information: Qualified nurses are on hand to offer support on a range of medical or health-related issues offering practical information and advice.
● Online CBT: Health Assured recognises the value of self-help tools in dealing with a range of issues.  These include: CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) self-help modules, informative fact sheets and invaluable advice videos from leading qualified counsellors.

Support is also available to the spouse/partners and dependents of Sensée employees under the scheme.

“The health and wellbeing of our employees is paramount and an integral part of our culture, and we are well aware that balancing everyday life with the requirements of work and personal life can create pressures for all of us” said Brigitte Gratton, Chief People Officer at SensĂ©e. “We are therefore very happy to be able to offer access to the Health Assured EAP service to all our employees.”

Disability Confident scheme reaches landmark

Sensée is a proud member of Disability Confident and delighted to learn that the number of employers in the UK supporting the scheme has reached a record breaking 20,000.

Reaching this landmark means that the Disability Confident network now covers inclusive organisations that employ more than 11 million workers – including major employers such as Microsoft, Sainsbury’s and Network Rail.

Sensée has been a Disability Confident Committed member since November 2018.

Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, said “we are committed to seeing 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027 and as we recover from the pandemic we are redoubling our efforts to boost the support for disabled jobseekers.  I know this is a challenging time, but we will be building on the record disability employment we have seen by protecting, supporting and creating jobs for disabled people.”

 

Disability Confident Committed

Engaged homeworkers are the key to happy customers

a young female call centre worker takes a call.

By Mark Walton, CEO, Sensée

 

With all the talk about the future of the workplace it’s easy to forget why we’re here in the first place. “It’s about the customer, always” and at no time has that expression been more apt than in today’s turbulent economic times. Forget to put the customer at the heart of what you do and there’ll be a thousand and one competitors keen to take their business away from you.

So what can we do to make sure customers get the best possible service each and every time they make contact? For starters, we can look after our people better as there’s plenty of evidence to show that there is a direct and strong correlation between employee and customer satisfaction.

A 2017 Aberdeen Research report, for example, concluded “businesses that understand the importance of employee engagement and manage it through a formal program to align to their customer experience goals, achieve far superior results” while a 2013 Demand Metric Employee Engagement Survey found that organisations with more than 50% employee engagement retained more than 80% of their customers.  As Richard Branson once famously said “take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers”.

Many of the common techniques used to improve employee engagement in contact centres are well known and well used. They are still worth repeating though. Leading consultant Carolyn Blunt offers 8 tips for success. Namely to ensure that:

  1. Your teams are properly trained, supported and coached
  2. Your teams are properly and competitively rewarded
  3. Your working environment is clean and pleasant
  4. Coaches and team leaders are motivated, of high quality, and take ownership of driving forward the strategic performance of your centre
  5. Your centre promotes from within, growing talent from frontline agents into people managers
  6. Planning/resourcing is professionally run in a way that is as fair as possible to everyone
  7. New recruits understand what is expected of them and your organisation recruits primarily for attitude, aptitude and energy in the first instance
  8. Managers talk to people both as individuals and as teams. Giving someone the impression that their efforts are ignored will impact motivation, retention, and absence.

While not exhaustive, this list is a great starting point. However, I’d add an extra tip – in many respects one that has emerged because of our experiences during lockdown – and that is to recognise employees’ emotional requirements, and in particular their desire to have more control over their working days.

For most contact centre people, lockdown has meant transitioning from the office to work-from-home. And while this new method of working hasn’t suited everybody, for others it’s been a revelation. No travel to work, no travel costs, spending more time with the family, more time to indulge in sports and hobbies, etc. For many people, moving them back to the office in 2021 will be forcing them back to the office. To a world of sitting in traffic jams on motorways, endless office meetings, and sometimes stressful colleague relationships. And it won’t necessarily be for reasons of productivity. Many people have proven to be just as – if not more – productive working from home.

Stats from the 2020 HomeAgent survey conducted pre lockdown and covering over 200 UK homeworkers paints a particularly interesting picture about employee engagement. 65% of long term UK homeworkers say that they are ‘proud to tell people where they work’, 88% say ‘I want to perform well for the sake of my team’ and only 20% say ‘I miss the emotional support of my co-workers’. 74% say that they enjoy a better work life balance as a result of homeworking.

I’m not advocating work-from-home as the answer to all employee engagement and motivation issues, that would be wrong. What I’m saying is that work-from-home can be a key part of the long term mix and especially for those that are suited to homeworking, have a suitable home office working space, and can prove that they are efficient working from home.

The rest is down to their employers to make sure that homeworking is effective. In some respects running a homeworking contact centre is simpler than running a bricks and mortar operation. In other respects it is much harder, calling for a virtual mindset and suitable systems and processes across everything from recruitment & onboarding to training, scheduling, communications, management, infosecurity….. and of course procedures and systems that look out for the health and well being of all employees working remotely.