(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

LiveDesk named ‘Remote Team Communication and Collaboration’ innovation of the year

SensĂ©e is delighted to announce that its LiveDeskℱ Digital Workplace Creation Tool was named Remote Team Communication & Collaboration innovation of the year at the 2021 National Innovation Awards. The winners were announced at a virtual gala event on 11th May.

About LiveDesk

LiveDesks are user customisable Digital Workplaces for communications and collaboration. They unify home and office workers on the same work mission, ensuring everyone is on the same page, by having access to the same information, knowledge, care and support wherever they work from.

LiveDesks are easy to create and manage. Managers have a range of LiveDesk ‘pods’ at their disposal to build tailored workspaces best suited to their needs and work mission, including features such as:

  • Intelligent Chat: enabling advisers to quickly get help from team members, subject matter experts and virtual floorwalkers, tracking Q&A trends.
  • Bulletins & Alerts: keeping advisors updated on major service issues, ensuring everyone is on the beat (and thereby removing reliance on email).
  • Mood & Engagement Pulse: tracking engagement of users across home and office.
  • Social Spaces: enabling private chat rooms for breaks and socialising for engagement.
  • Digital Workplace Dashboards: tracking users frequency, complexity and trends of questions and knowledge needs to have clear capability flightpaths.
  • Teams / Meet / Zoom Facilitation: helping users organise and manage sessions etc. with webcams, voice and screen-sharing.

LiveDesks are always-on but only open during work hours and when managers (key holders) are logged in. They effectively level the hybrid office operating field.

LiveDesk is part of Sensée Cloudworks, a technology ecosystem for hybrid workplaces that comprises unique and innovative homeworking solutions for remote recruitment & onboarding, resource scheduling, communications & collaboration, and security/compliance.

About the National Innovation Awards 2021

The theme for 2021 was ‘technology innovation that improves Work From Home capability, productivity and experience’.

The judges received over 300 submissions. Other 2021 Awards winners were: Noetica & Avoira, Intradiem, Blue Prism, NICE inContact and Medallia.

Jon Snow, Chairman of Directors Club United Kingdom and Convenor of Judges for the 2021 Awards, commented: “Working from home or anywhere is the operational legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic. These 2021 awards set out to highlight the technology developers who are making the distributed workforce not only possible but high performing. One reason the UK National Innovation Awards are respected so widely, is the way they are judged. All our judges are senior business leaders from the organisations that would benefit from the technology innovations being judged. All categories are judged on the quality of the business outcomes that the innovations deliver.”

“We are a 100% WFH business and have been designing, creating and managing hybrid workplaces with our partners since our humble beginnings 17 years ago” said Steve Mosser, CEO and CIO, Cloudworks. “The last 12 months have been the most significant in our history. We’ve had the opportunity to work with many of the UK’s top private and public sector organisations, helping them understand and embrace the opportunities that homeworking can deliver. The adoption of purpose-built technology solutions is absolutely key to work-from-home being established as a viable long-term option for employees and organisations. We are delighted that LiveDesk has been recognised by contact centre industry leaders at these Awards.”

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.

Double success for Sensée at the 2021 Forum Awards

Work-from-home specialist SensĂ©e has won an Innovation and Transformation Award for ‘Engaged Homeworking’ at the 2021 Forum Awards. The company also received a Highly Commended Partnership Award for its groundbreaking homeworking partnership with Bupa at the gala awards evening on Friday 23rd April.

The Innovation and Transformation Award recognised the transformational impact that SensĂ©e’s LiveDeskℱ and TeamTonicÂź homeworking solutions have had on SensĂ©e’s contact centre outsourcing operation, as well as on the customer contact operations of clients including Ageas, Utility Warehouse and Bupa:

  • LiveDeskℱ Digital Workplaces unify people, wherever they are, so that they are on the same work mission. LiveDesk provides macro-collaboration and communication tools so people are highly engaged, well supported and continuously informed.
  • TeamTonicÂź is a self-rostering Scheduler that empowers @home staff to schedule work around their home lives and obligations. By keeping clear of home life work disruptions people are free from conflicting shift anxiety while employers can be confident that they are focused, productive and adhering to schedules.

SensĂ©e’s partnership with Bupa started with a simple homeworking pilot in 2014 and has grown into a comprehensive and multi-faceted outsourced service that today involves 180 contact centre advisers. SensĂ©e advisers not only provide high quality service but handle customer contacts very cost effectively – with highly efficient HomeAgent scheduling key to the cost savings generated. Homeworking lessons learnt through the partnership were instrumental in Bupa making a swift and highly effective transition to homeworking within its own operations at the start of lockdown.

The Awards event was organised and operated by the Forum, a professional community for best practice and professional development in customer operations. The Forum comprises four separate forums for: Planning & Resourcing, Analytics & Insight, Customer Experience, and Strategy & Leadership.

Other winners at the 2021 Forum Awards included North Yorkshire County Council, Hoist Finance, Serco, Capita, Loop, NHS Business Authority, Click Mechanic, Lloyds Banking Group, Domestic & General,

“Well done to the Forum for putting on a fantastic and highly entertaining event” said Mark Walton, CEO, SensĂ©e. “We are very proud of the hard work and dedication of our homeworking teams during the lockdown period and delighted that their achievements have been recognised with these Awards.”

“Over the past year, many organisations have introduced working from home, without embedding homeworking. SensĂ©e has demonstrated how homeworking is done, both sustainably and at a high level of performance, engaging employees and driving operational insight” said Phil Anderson, a Director at the Forum.

New Survey Paints Positive Picture of Employee Engagement During Lockdown

– Homeworking is here to stay say top UK contact centres –

Throughout lockdown, business leaders have debated the tricky issue of how best to engage and support their people while working from home.

However, according to a major new industry survey “The 2021 Contact Centre People Engagement Survey”, 81% of Agents/Advisers – and 56% of Directors/Managers – say that People Engagement in their Contact Centres is not a problem.

322 UK Contact Centre Directors, Managers, Agents and Advisers took part in the online study conducted by trade bodies the South West Contact Centre Forum and Call North West. Survey responses were collected between January 11th and March 12th 2021 and participants came from a broad range of Contact Centres from different industries. Separate detailed questionnaires were run for Directors/Managers and Agents/Advisers. The survey was supported by homeworking specialist Sensée.

The “2021 Contact Centre People Engagement Survey” provides valuable insight into the current state of People Engagement within the contact centre industry – at a time when the predominant workplace is the home office.

70% of Agents/Advisers responding to the survey say that they mainly worked in bricks and mortar contact centres prior to lockdown and have now switched to mainly working from home….. and the majority feel that the switch has gone well.

Despite media headlines suggesting organisations have struggled to manage their colleagues in a work-from-home setting, most Contact Centre Advisers say that their Managers have adapted well to the switch: 57% say Very Well and 29% say Well.

And there’s more good news when it comes to the current state of ‘manager-employee’ and ‘team’ engagement.

85% of Agents/Advisers Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “Communication between senior leaders and employees in my organisation is good”…. with 83% of Directors and Managers concurring. In a similar vein, 94% of Agents/Advisers, and 99% of Directors and Managers, Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “My manager/contact centre team and I have a good working relationship”. Virtually nobody disagreed.

Mental Health

Concerns over the impact of employee isolation on mental health while people are working-from-home have frequently been aired over the last 12 months.

However our survey reveals that Agents/Advisers are generally happy with the efforts their employers are making at supporting their needs. When asked “Do you think your organisation adequately addresses the Mental Health & Well Being concerns of its employees?”, 73% of Agents/Advisers say yes and only 8% say no.

The survey also revealed the breadth of measures employers were taking to address concerns. When Directors/Managers were asked “How do you monitor Health & Well Being within your teams?” 36% cite Formal Questionnaires, 29% Video Checks and 40% Occupational Health reports. But the most common approach is simply to talk. 89% of Directors/Managers cite Informal Conversations to discuss Health & Well Being concerns and 71% Formal Conversations.

Ethical Business

Finally, our survey reveals a growing recognition amongst employees of the role that their employer plays in broader society.

90% of Agents/Advisers Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “My organisation has taken steps to ensure that it acts as a responsible member of society” as did almost all Directors/Managers (i.e. 99%)

Likewise, 96% of Directors/Managers Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement “My organisation is dedicated to diversity and inclusiveness”, together with 91% of Agents/Advisers.

And the future?

Perhaps not surprisingly, work-from-home is expected to continue to play a significant role in the contact centre industry for the foreseeable future.

Only 43% of Agents/Advisers believe they will be 100% returning to the office. 57% therefore believe they will be homeworking, with the majority of those splitting their time between their home and the office.

Intriguingly, when asked what percentage of their adviser population would be working from home in 2022, 60% of Directors/Managers say that they expect 50% or more to be working full or part time at home, with just 4% predicting a full return to the office.

“It’s great to report that colleagues in the contact centre industry feel so overwhelmingly positive towards People Engagement issues – especially after the last 12 months” said Jane Thomas, Managing Director of the South West Contact Centre Forum and Call North West. “Our survey shows that progress is being made in key areas such as mental health support, building team cohesion and running ethical, inclusive and socially-responsible business. However, while organisations can take credit for these achievements, the job is far from complete.”

“The survey results are extremely interesting, particularly as they counter many of the negative perceptions about People Engagement in the age of ‘forced’ homeworking” said Mark Walton, CEO, SensĂ©e. “Moving forward, the challenge will not be so much about making homeworking work – organisations have had a year to do that – it will be about defining long term strategies. Who will work from the office and who will work from home? How will we manage, communicate, schedule, train our ‘hybrid’ workforces? What new technology platforms will we need? We maybe entering an era of extreme uncertainly but there’s never been a better time to take a step back and make meaningful changes to modernise and transform UK business.”

To view the “The 2021 Contact Centre People Engagement Survey” eBook, please go to

https://www.sensee.co.uk/resources/eBooks.aspx?eb=power-of-engagement-final

The eBook is best viewed in 2 page (i.e. side by side) view, and there is no need to register.

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.

(Discussion invite) Has 2020 killed the traditional BPO industry? And, if so, what’s coming next?

Davies Group Webinar
Sponsored by Sensée
Wednesday 7th April 2021 at 2pm (BST) / 9am (EDT)

New ways of working; new commercial models; new employee engagement initiatives; new patterns of resourcing; new relationship expectations; new tech; no limits.

Can the outsourcing industry adapt? Can it even see what is needed? How will the outsourcing phoenix arise?

You are invited to join this webinar session  ‘Has 2020 killed the traditional BPO industry? And, if so, what’s coming next?’ to explore the future of the BPO industry as Davies Group questions whether service outsourcing should and can arise in 2021 and beyond.

Davies Consulting and SensĂ©e will be joined by guests from Department of Work and Pensions, Vodafone and Bupa as they discuss the following questions…

  • How relevant are traditional BPO and customer management outsourcing organisations now?
  • How do they sustainably service a virtual, dynamic workforce increasingly being augmented or replaced by intelligent automation (IA)?
  • How does this impact their commercial models?
  • Are they equipped to service the wellbeing needs of their colleagues?
  • Can they innovate effectively enough?

 

Register