Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s European Contact Centre, based in Aldershot, is at the forefront of its UK flexible working policy. It employs around 300 people within this division, the vast majority of whom are home-based. This started as a pilot group in 2011 and the company now has 130+ home-based staff across eight reservations teams. The teams handle Corporate, Insurance and Retail calls. Workingmums.co.uk spoke to their Talent Acquisition Specialist Beth Freemantle about their flexible working model.
Workingmums.co.uk: Do you offer some form of flexible working in all your contact centres?
Beth Freemantle: We have one UK-based contact centre (our European Contact Centre based in Aldershot) and we offer flexible working here, but a similar model is adopted in the US. All their contact centre staff are home-based.
WM: How difficult was it to do this and what were the main challenges in setting up the homeworking contact centre?
BF: Obviously there were considerations around creating a homeworking policy from an HR perspective and a technical perspective. We were able to look to our counterparts in the States to see what they were doing, although didn’t entirely adopt their business model. Once those things had been established and testing completed we had an initial pilot group of around nine employees working from home – a mix of new hires and existing staff. At that point we only recruited within a 50 mile radius as interviews and training were still conducted in the office and we then supplied the employee with a thin client [desktop terminal] and office equipment to use at home. We now recruit nationwide and training is carried out remotely in a 2-week induction. We have 2 trainers, one office-based, one home-based. We now use employees’ own devices and internet connection. All we provide is VOIP phone and headset.
WM: Do you train managers so they can manage, for example, remote workers or flexi workers?
BF: We don’t as such, but that’s because remote workers aren’t treated differently to office-based workers – the only difference is they can’t physically see them. Team meetings and one on ones are conducted online instead of face to face. It has been more of a case of adapting to new ways of doing things, teaching people how to use Adobe and various other software used.
WM: What systems do you use, for instance, to ensure there is sufficient cover on all working days?
BF: We use a WFM programme called Shift track from Noble systems and have a resource planner.
WM: What are the main benefits of working in this way?
BF: Larger, more diverse candidate pool and therefore increased quality of hire. Happier employees from a work life balance perspective. Lower costs from an overheads perspective. Increased revenue due to better performance.
WM: Do you offer training and career progression to flexible workers?
BF: Absolutely. We have been able to offer great career development opportunities for our home-based employees as we have seen the uptake of remote working move into many more departments than just Reservations. Employees can access all of the career development programmes and initiatives that our office-based employees d,o including the ability to complete an NVQ from home.