Hybrid and Home Working – Is It Good for Us?

Planning on visiting Health and Well Being at Work 2022?

H&WB 2022 is the UK’s largest exhibition and conference dedicated to improving the health, wellbeing, safety, behaviour and culture of today’s workforce.

Sensée CEO Mark Walton will be on hand to discuss any burning issues you have with regards H&WB in work-from-home and hybrid work environments on Tuesday 15th March.

Set up a one-to-one meeting to discuss your organisation’s H&WB concerns in WFH/hybrid environments

Mark will also be delivering a keynote speech ‘Hybrid and Home Working – Is It Good for Us?’ at the National Policy and Future of Work conference stream taking place in the Gallery Suite 16-18, 1st Floor on Tuesday 15th March, 14.30 – 16.00.

Register for the event

 

Speakers

 

(Contact Centre Webinar) Six Quick Fixes to Make Your Homeworkers More Productive

Wednesday 16th March 2022, 12:00 – 1.00pm

Chair: Jane Thomas, South West Contact Centre Forum and Call North West

In this webinar, we’ll discuss how to build team spirit and make your homeworkers more productive:

  • What leadership techniques and activities will help glue together homeworking and hybrid communities?
  • What are the different ways a Team Leader can encourage their team to engage socially?
  • How does a Team Leader motivate their team on a day-to-day basis?
  • How can you have a flexible ‘choose your own hours ‘ approach and still meet inbound demand?
  • What communication methods can you use in a virtual workplace (e.g. for process changes, account engagement or general updates) and how do you follow-up to ensure comms have landed?
  • What are your top 3 suggestions to build spirit and create togetherness when people live all across the UK?

Register for the webinar

(White Paper) Strategies for Effective Hybrid Working

As the UK moves into the post-pandemic period, CX decision-makers are under pressure as never before to meet and exceed consumer demands.

This trend is omnipresent across the British economy. It is made even more difïŹcult by the shift in customer management operating models over the past 18 months. The move to a more virtualized delivery platform took many decision-makers by surprise and has become a structural part of how service is delivered to customers across the UK.

In this context, Ryan Advisory and Sensée brought together a dozen executives from across the vertical spectrum to forecast the direction of remote customer management as the country emerges from the COVID19 pandemic.

The themes that were discussed ranged from operational transformation to agent management. However, all panelists pointed to signiïŹcant disruption in UK customer management and, amid these changes, no enterprise can expect a business-as-usual approach to CX moving forward.

Read the White Paper (no need to register)

 

(eBook) Why do people choose to work from home?

People naturally have lots of questions when they first consider a work-from-home (WFH) role.  For example:

  • How can I build relationships with colleagues when we live hundreds of miles apart?
  • How will I get assistance from managers and support personnel when I need it most?
  • Will it be a job or a career?
  • Is it all work, work, work? What about the social engagement and fun?
  • How will I overcome the isolation of being at home?
In this eBook, we asked a cross section of Sensée employees what they feel about working in a 100% WFH role.

Will Changes To UK Flexible Working Become Law In 2022?

In 2014, the UK introduced a new law that gave employees the right to request flexible work. In particular, it focused on parents and carers that might need to adjust their working hours to fit around caring responsibilities. This was presented as a right that all employees can ask for, but there was always the requirement for employees to discuss any requirement with an employer – there was a need to prove that flexibility was required.

A recent parliamentary consultation has asked if this right should be extended to all employees as a default of employment regulations. What if the law supports all employees with an assumption that everyone has the right to ask for flexibility – not just those with very specific responsibilities?

This consultation has been presented as part of a package of ‘build back better’ measures that are designed to reshape how the economy works in a post-Covid environment. However, it’s clear from the 2019 research in the appendix that most people wanted more flexibility at work even before Covid arrived.

98% of the 2019 respondents indicated that they believe companies with 250 or more employees should be mandated to provide details of their family-related leave and pay policies on their website. 98% also believed that flexible working policies should be openly published by these larger companies – not individually negotiated.

It’s important to remember that the consultation is about introducing the right to flexibility from day one for all employees. It is not proposing an automatic adoption of flexibility for all employees. Employees would still need to ask permission, but there will no longer be the requirement of proof that the employee has a specific reason to require flexibility.

The view from the HR community is interesting. The government survey found that 68% of respondents would like to extend the right to flexible working to all employees from day one. It’s clear that any requests would not be automatically granted as there is also support for the right to refuse flexibility if there will be extra cost (61%) or it will be difficult to reorganise other staff (70%).

Writing in ‘the HRDirector’ magazine, Emma Burrows, Partner and Head of Employment at law firm Trowers and Hamlins said: “Back in 2019, the government’s manifesto firmly committed to encouraging flexible working. Since then, the pandemic has ushered in wholesale change to working practices and it’s impossible to visualise things going back to the way they were. The expectations of both employees and employers have shifted and agile working has now become a vital tool in attracting and retaining the best talent. So, whilst it remains to be seen what the government will say in response to the consultation, it appears from our survey that employers are already a few steps ahead and changes to the statutory regime would be welcome.”

The pledge for flexibility may have originally been one of those manifesto promises that gets lets behind, but the pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the importance of work flexibility for so many people. Many people now want this in law.

Wired magazine is less hopeful. I already mentioned some of the very broad and vague reasons that will allow the rejection of a flexibility request (“it will increase our costs!”) Wired interviewed several activists who suggest that because there are so many possible reasons for rejection, it’s almost impossible to make a successful request if your manager doesn’t want to allow flexible working.

Nobody wants to see the introduction of flexible working from day one if the rules are framed in a way that makes it almost impossible to ever successfully ask for flexible hours. Perhaps the cultural changes forced on most employers by the pandemic may create a more meaningful change? 

The alternative is to find an employer that embraces flexibility for their team from day one – encouraging people to work from home. The Wired analysis focuses on the difficulties that parents have juggling childcare with work responsibilities. Take a look at our recruitment page because SensĂ©e is hiring right now and we offer flexible guaranteed hours from day one with a full employment contract. Whether the government does change the law on employment flexibility or not, there are some employers that already believe it makes sense for both the company and the employee.

Stop Gambling The Future Of Your Company On New Covid Rules And Variants

The UK, and other countries with a comprehensive Covid-19 vaccination rollout, are now in a far better position than they were a year ago. At the start of 2021 the news that vaccines were available was just a few weeks old – there was hope, but not many had already received their jabs.

The start of 2022 is more positive. It’s true there are recurring variants that are delaying a complete return to normal, but widespread vaccination has meant that fewer people are suffering serious consequences.

The issue for executives now is how to plot a path to normality. There are some companies that are intent on returning all their employees to the office. Investment banks like Goldman Sachs are a good example. The argument is that younger employees learn about their job using an apprentice system that is very hard to transfer to a hybrid or online model.

But even the companies that are focused on a return to a pre-pandemic normal in the office are finding it difficult. Many of the investment banks are currently asking their employees to stay at home because of the omicron variant. The return to normal is uncertain and stuttering because after omicron subsides, who can predict when we might see the pi, rho, or sigma variants?

It is very unlikely that lockdowns will return. Vaccination has dramatically reduced the rate of death and hospitalisation, but Covid is still out there. People are becoming ill and even those that are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms are asked to isolate so they don’t pass it on further. Many companies have been struggling because vital employees are isolating at home – you can’t drive a train or bus remotely.

Worker shortages, self-isolation, and the uncertainty of how dangerous any new variants might be have created an uncertain situation. Executives that are keen to establish some normality at work are essentially gambling on the future of their business if they make very rigid decisions that are difficult to unwind. Flexibility will be an essential component of business strategy in 2022 – not a dogmatic return to ‘normality’.

The industry analyst Gartner published a short video recently that explains some of the issues around this strategic uncertainty. The idea of a return to 2019 standards for work location is now very difficult to support for several reasons:

  • 75% of knowledge workers now want flexibility in where they work
  • Working from home can also create the opportunity for asynchronous work – moving away from a meeting and presenteeism culture and focusing on what a team delivers, rather than just time in the office
  • Compliance and security have been proven to work in a distributed work environment – precisely because so many companies were forced to make it work during the early stages of the pandemic

The Gartner analysis suggests that organisations seeking future success will invest in changing how their employees deliver services – both in terms of their working location and how they can work in both synchronous or asynchronous teams.

This should now be clear to every corporate leader. Nobody can run a company where they are constantly gambling on whether the office can be used or not. Even the banks and other companies that have tried hard to return to ‘normal’ have seen their plans constantly changing as new variants emerge.

The only safe and secure way forward is to follow the Gartner advice. Think carefully about where your employees are located and how they are working. Working from home should be possible for everyone in a job where it is possible, even if your employees split their time between home and the office.

With this flexibility, it’s easy to manage the uncertainty of a new variant just by asking everyone to stay at home. When the danger subsides, some of the team may want to use the office, some may prefer to stay working from home.

It’s time to consider a work from home strategy as an integral part of future business resilience – not just an emergency response to a single pandemic. Building flexibility and resilience into your business by embracing more flexible work locations is how companies will survive and thrive in the 2020s. WFH is an integral part of the post-pandemic new normal.

(Contact Centre Webinar) How to successfully retain and recruit in a hybrid world

(Contact Centre Webinar) How to successfully retain and recruit in a hybrid world
Wednesday 26th January 2022, 12:00 – 1.00pm

 

It’s been an uncertain start to the year for many contact centres as they battle attrition and struggle to attract new candidates.

But where does the solution lie? Is it in delivering flexible contracts that offer employees a better work-life-balance?

As the return to the office falters, job seekers and employees are increasingly demanding not only the ability to work-from-home (WFH) when they choose but also the freedom to work flexible hours.

The carrot of offering WFH without flexible working no longer seems enough – and for centres who operate traditional office-based models, that’s presenting huge challenges.

In this webinar we look at the tools and the strategies that organisations need to deliver WFH with flexible working. From the Recruitment, HR and Operational policies necessary to build and run WFH and hybrid teams, to the technology tools required to give advisors the ability to self-schedule their own work shifts (in and out of the office).

The webinar will feature talks from Sensée Head of Recruitment Ted Wignall, and Learning and Development Champion Sarah Cocks.

Delegates will also have the opportunity to ask and debate their most burning recruitment and attrition issues in an extended open Q&A forum.

REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

(eBook) Business and Digital Transformation in a Hybrid World

Covid 19 has changed the contact centre landscape forever… but what will the future bring?

How will organisations embrace work-from-home (WFH) and hybrid working opportunities? And how can they deliver enhanced customer experiences (CX) with greater customer choice and better business efficiency?

In this eBook we explore the role that business/digital transformation strategies and high quality self-serve/AI solutions will play in delivering contact centre change.

Content includes:

  • 12 hybrid working challenges/ 12 Digital Transformation Challenges/ 12 Customer Self-Service Challenges
  • A toolkit for establishing Your WFH and Hybrid Model
  • Creating and implementing a Digital Transformation strategy
  • Creating a multichannel strategy that drives operational efficiency
  • Promoting continuous improvement in people and processes.

The “Business and Digital Transformation in a Hybrid World” eBook is best viewed in 2 page format.

Read our eBook (no need to register)

 

Bus and Dig Transformation

Building Teams Should Be The Focus For WFH Management

Earlier this year, The Economist published a special report on the Future of Work. The report analysed issues such as the Covid pandemic, automation, and government policy, but one important area of focus was working from home and hybrid work.

The report cited research by three economists, JosĂ© Maria Barrero, Nick Bloom and Steven Davis, who surveyed thousands of American workers to ask how they wanted to work after the pandemic. The research found: “the average employee would like to work from home nearly half the time. Employers are less keen, but their expectation that a fifth of working time will be spent at home (one day a week) is a big change from the previous norm. It also presents a huge opportunity for office-based workers.”

In recent months I have seen several similar studies and the focus is usually on the difficulty of managing hybrid workers. A typical question will focus on the value of being at the office in-person if your colleagues are working from home.

The difference with this report from The Economist though is that they got to the heart of the matter. The big difference with everyone permanently working from home, or partially working from home in a hybrid arrangement, is how to build and manage teams.

Some investment banks and other professional service companies have claimed that their work processes require in-person employees, but the vast majority of companies across all industries have learned that working from home is possible – and is often preferable. For this reason, it is essential that HR leaders and managers understand that their workforce management processes must evolve.

Every company will have different plans and a different approach – especially if going down the hybrid path – but I think there are a few golden rules that managers need to remember:

  • Delivery not time: presenteeism does not work when managing remotely. Your focus is on guiding team team members, communicating clearly, setting expectations, then measuring them based on deliverables – not time at a desk. Performance management needs a complete review to embrace remote workers.
  • No twin track: it’s likely that everyone from the CEO down will be spending some time at home, some in the office, and some in shared meeting spaces. There is no room for a group that predominantly works from the office and another group that rarely leaves home. Everyone on the team has access to the same information and opportunities.
  • Blended communications: you need better and more open communication systems so teams can use technology to really feel like a team and this needs to embrace social conversation as well as business related matters.

Building a remote team is a very different process to building and leading an in-person team. You need to think carefully about the recruitment process, create clear and open guidelines and expectations, engage regularly, and give the team reliable communication systems that can draw them together.

Sensée has always worked with almost all of our people working remotely from home so we have experience of how this is as much about corporate culture as it is about guidelines and management process. Managers need to understand that building a remote team successfully is one of the most important components in making a modern organisation operate effectively.