COVID-19 RESPONSE FORUM: WEEK 5
The challenges of homeworking
Homeworking pilots or business continuity plans have been ramped up to support the impact of the pandemic. Ramping up has meant some organisations going from 200 to 2000 homeworkers. The normal process would typically include vetting homes, reviewing colleague tenure, criminal record checks, undertaking a review of other competencies etc however to achieve the scale required some of these assessments have been relaxed including an acceptance of less call recording.
For some, outbound calling within financial services has been replaced by email and/or letter until call recording capabilities are in place.
Clearly there are many upsides to having homeworking testing in place, however some of the challenges for those new to or extending extensively includes securing access to equipment such as monitors, laptops and chairs.
Another challenge is the technical support requirements for homeworkers. Some organisations have a specific tech team in place to support individuals as they get up and running, and to also deal with some niche issues for example VPN, application usage or laptops not compatible with home networks etc.
On a personal level for those working from home, it is estimated the savings on things such as travelling to work costs equate to an approximate salary increase of between 8-10%.
Engagement and wellbeing
Many people are now working in a very different environment and have been for some weeks. The lack of personal contact and the camaraderie that exists in the contact centre is perhaps a downside for some. Communication is vital.
Daily newsletters, promoting reasons to be proud, the role everyone in playing to keep people connected, daily video conferences on apps such as Teams are being exploited to fill some of those gaps.
Some report allowing staff to carry up to 20 days annual holiday into next year, at Line Manager’s discretion. The normal carry-over limit would be 5 days.
Speed to answer rates vary significantly, depending on the prioritisation placed on certain lines. Standard lines can be up to 20 mins to answer for some.
For others, call volumes seem to be dropping; some reporting this as up 40-50%. The reasons for this are not known but could be in response to IVR messages and press notices asking customers to only make contact in an emergency/urgent situation.
Reward and additional support during the pandemic
Homeworking is not an option for everyone. Many organisations have staff working from centres but are building in different ways to provide reassurance and support that their wellbeing and safety is high priority.
Some organisations are offering day to day supplies at cost price from some of the catering companies used for inhouse canteens etc. Others are offering vouchers, free tea and coffee, ordering in lunches etc.
Others are adapting working hours for those using public transport to avoid travelling at peak times and where possible, all staff being offered access to company car parks.
Planning for the future
Incident management procedures are now well underway with most organisations now delivering a new, adapted BAU. Thoughts are now turning to the future, with many working to have new operating plans in place before restrictions are lifted. For example; staff planning, customer behaviours, different use of IVR, digital channels etc. Any return to the office will most likely include an element of social distancing which will need to be incorporated into any future decisions.
The Forum will convene online each Friday at 11am until further notice. Joining details will be issued weekly. To request these or for any other information, please contact Pauline Cochrane, Head of Research & Partnerships at CCA – firstname.lastname@example.org