Jonty’s visit to the Plantronics Contact Centre
Last week Jonty visited the Plantronics European Customer Support Centre near to Amsterdam and found a contact centre that is really embracing homeworking.
The Plantronics support centre in Hoofddorp, near Amsterdam, is in many ways leading the field for technical support centres. This is for the way that it is embracing modern working methods, and in particular, homeworking.
The homeworking project started off as a pilot in 2009 and has now been rolled out across the contact centre. The pilot scheme showed that there was no drop in performance KPIs between the homeworkers and those based in the office.
It has, however, showed great benefits in terms of employee engagement and also in terms of contingency planning.
Although this part of the Netherlands was very badly hit by the snow in December 2010, the contact centre was able to operate as normal with all of the staff able to dial in from home.
“We have a plan to get 50% of our staff working from home for 50% of the time by 2012,” explained Paul van den Berg, Director of Operations, EMEA for Plantronics. “We trust our staff to work from home and not under our direct supervision.”
The staff are generally able to choose which days they work from home and which days they come into the office. But there are some ground rules that have to be obeyed. For example, you are not able to work from home if you are the only adult and there is a child in the house. Obviously, in the case of a one-day illness then there can be some flexibility.
“Smart working is not for everyone,” said Paul van den Berg. “For example, it is not very well suited to a young person who is living at home with their parents.”
Plantronics have checklist that has to be followed to ensure a safe working environment. We hope to be able to publish this in Call Centre Helper in the next couple of weeks.
Any items that the agent does not have at home are provided by the company. As you would expect from Plantronics, this includes noise-cancelling headsets – the binaural Savi headset being a popular choice.
With people not being in close proximity to each other, instant messaging or chat is used to deal with the ‘does anyone know anything about this?’ moments that can crop up.
So are there any downsides to homeworking?
“So far the one area that we have not yet been able to address is how do you manage the ‘around the coffee machine’ moments,” said Paul van den Berg.