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How did we get everyone up and running at home overnight when lockdown hit?

Published on 27 April 2021

How did we get everyone up and running at home overnight when lockdown hit?

Our disaster plan had been mainly US based. Our operating model is different, so as EU countries were entering lockdowns, our site leaders and business managers worked to adapt this. There were five main steps.

Communication: Initially we focussed on cascading through the hierarchy, as things were changing rapidly. We can all access emails from home, but we also used WhatsApp groups, to be sure no-one missed out. Click to Chat: We had no solution for people to take calls at home, so we trained everyone on chat, previously just a small specialist group. A few agents got mobile phones, depending on their work.

Laptops: Most agents do not have work laptops, so we established what personal equipment they had at home. In parallel, IT worked to give access to our Virtual Desktop Environment. A myriad of methods was required for the different systems; these were tested by agents before lockdown.

Soft Phones: Over the first week, IT worked on a soft phone solution, so we gradually had agents back on the phones during the first week, an incredibly fast response. We then scheduled agents on phones, as they came live.

Closing the centre: When the UK lockdown was announced, at 9pm on Friday 27th March, we held a call at 9:30pm and decided to close the centre from the Monday. All agents were contacted, and emergency announcements activated on our phone lines, asking people to chat or email. 

For us in the WFM team, it was a crazy few months while we got to grips with it all. I’m sure it’s been a similar story for many of you, particularly in real time, scheduling, or project management roles. Communication was key. We gathered data for IT and fed back from them to the teams. We monitored chat as well as phone queues. We updated furlough and revised reporting.

Personally, I’ve learned a lot looking back. Firstly, Homeworking = Flexibility. If we’d had it in place before, so much would have been easier and we will have a strategy now, going forwards. Surely, we need to be prepared for this more now. Secondly, multiskilling agents has always been a strength of our centre, and it really helped this year, with contact volume very volatile. As restrictions lifted, contacts rose in one area, and then when restrictions increased, volume there would drop, but increase in another area. Our ability to move resources has probably never been more valuable. Finally, engagement was vital, and teamwork. Conversations, huddles, coaching and 1:1s were all via MS Teams. Our ‘Commz Crew’ sent updates and ran incentives and events, which were very imaginative and fun!

While it has been a tough year for the business, there is a feeling of pride in all our teams with how rapidly we switched to a home working environment. With chat, we could keep a line of communication open to customers all the time.

Author: Stephen Banim, Hertz

Date Published: 27/04/2021

This article was first published in the 2021 Best Practice Guide - Unlocking Opportunities: You are the Key

To download a full digital copy of the Best Practice Guide, click here

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