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COVID-19: Managing the Unexpected - Week 2

24/03/2020 INDUSTRY NEWS
A new forum has been created to support organisations in their response to COVID-19. The forum will convene each Friday at 11am until further notice. To request joining instructions or for any other information, please contact CCA



We take our role supporting you and your organisation seriously. During these challenging times, our strength and ability in connecting peers to collaborate and learn is proving crucial as we work our way through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The CCA team will continue to support you over the coming weeks and months, working to identify new opportunities and solutions to help make sense of how to best respond and react to rapidly changing advice and instructions.  

We have adapted some of our membership activities to be accessible online, whilst keeping an eye on the future when business will return to normal and we continue our drive to offer great customer experiences. 

I share an example of how we will collaborate – a summary of a conversation between 15 organisations on Friday, eager to discuss individual reactions to the pandemic. These sessions will take place weekly, with outputs shared amongst the wider CCA network. We’ll also share any articles, advice and guidelines as we source them to help share best practice and top tips using the power of our network to work through these unprecedented times. 

If there is anything we can help with or if you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing

We will also continue to look ahead, developing plans to support you and.… we will get through this together. 

Anne Marie Forsyth


CCA COVID-19 Discussion Forum: Week 2 



Working from home can impact productivity and the ability to perform at the normal level; collaboration is hugely important, as is clarity around challenges being faced by homeworkers. It’s also critical that frontline agents receive clear and regularly updated information about matters such as leave allowances and pay, and changes to working patterns as Government advice is changed and updated.

In order to minimise disruption, communication can become more of a challenge and it’s essential to make sure that clear messaging is maintained as much as possible. Top-down communication is appreciated by frontline staff – a clear, concise, reassuring and transparent message from a CEO or other C-suite executive can provide reassurance and help agents to remain focused on their workload. Reducing anxieties around the workplace can be a huge aid to homeworkers and contact centre workers alike.



Many frontline agents are experiencing huge anxiety around leave allowances. In response, many businesses are updating and swelling leave policies in order to accommodate agents during the pandemic and cover not only sickness leave but allowances for self-isolation, emergency leave and carer’s leave. 

There are also ongoing conversations around compensation – particularly where sales staff on commission are involved, increased leave pay is more vital than ever during the period that COVID-19 continues to impact the population.

There’s also an awareness of the knock-on problem the pandemic will have. Since very few agents will take annual leave in this half of the year, the latter half is likely to create a bottleneck of unused allowance. Agents are therefore encouraged to continue to use their leave as normal. 



In unprecedented times, unprecedented measures have to be taken to ensure business continuity. Where staff still have to be physically in the organisation, measures such as keeping agents at least one desk apart may make a crucial difference. Additionally, increased hygiene measures such as sanitising desks before and after every shift helps to ensure they are less likely to contract infection within the centre or pass it on if they are vectors and not yet aware of it. 

As the pandemic progresses, it’s likely that colleagues will have to take on workloads they may not previously have been familiar with, or to work with members of other teams in order to preserve core business processes. Remaining agile in working practices is crucial, and it may be the case that traditionally non-customer facing staff may be asked to take on customer-facing roles, and vice versa, as the situation progresses. More senior members of staff such as team leaders and managers might also be asked to take on frontline roles in order to guarantee business continuity. 

Agility extends to every part of the business – many organisations are re-thinking channels, reducing or perhaps even shutting down certain avenues of communication with customers – for example webchat – in order to facilitate homeworking. 

Inevitably, there will be challenges outside our control: with issues such as broadband connectivity, it won’t always be possible to reach the level of service possible within the contact centre. Managing expectations is also key to ensuring that customers and colleagues have a clear idea of how things are likely to progress over the next weeks and months. 



Mindfulness may not seem like a top priority as organisations struggle to keep the lights on, but it can make all the difference. Mental health, as well as physical, needs to be maintained and if not, can seriously impact our ability to perform as normal, particularly under increased strain and unusual working environments. 

As anxieties around Coronavirus and its direct physical impact including economic and social strains come into play, wellbeing plays a central role in ensuring the smoothest possible continuity. Checking in with frontline colleagues on a regular basis each week and encouraging them to voice any concerns they may have allows colleagues to communicate clearly and to focus more clearly.


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