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Executive Interview : Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and Your Business - 1 year on! - Exclusive Interview With Simon Pearton-Hindley from TELUS International

So a year on how would you describe how the pandemic has affected your company and how you work? If you can add some notes about your business to help readers understand what your center and/or company does, please add them here.
The past year drove immense progress in our remote working concept, testing everything from recruitment to disciplinarians. As a contribution to combating and protecting our employees from COVID-19, we successfully converted 80% of our operation to work remotely within the first 3 weeks of the pandemic.

If you operate a contact center how would you describe it today? 100% work from home? work in a socially distanced center ? hybrid? share some details
Our employees are our greatest asset, and their health and wellbeing is of paramount importance! With the on-going pandemic, we are now operating a WFH hybrid model with those who can work from home doing so, and those who cannot working in a socially distanced sanitised contact centre

When the pandemic hit and if you had to adapt, what went well or better than expected in the change of the way you work??
The speed in which we were able to move 80% of our workforce to a WFH model was a great success. We did not lose one day of operational time for any of our project; and even better, we did not see any decrease in productivity or Customer satisfaction, in fact in some projects productivity increased.

Since the start of the pandemic has call, email, chat traffic increased, decreased or stayed the same? AND, how? share some details on what you have noticed
The volume of contacts highly depends on the industry the partner’s works in. Some of our 300+ partners have seen a significant drop in contact volumes; such as those in the travel and hospitality industry; where as others have seen a significant increase.

Before the virus hit, did you have an emergency plan should something like this happen? and if so, did your plans work as expected?
With over 30 years’ experience we have built many robust BCP's, and a remote working solution due to a pandemic like situation was one of them. Over the years, the solution changed to keep up with technological advances, and when push came shove, we were very pleased that our BCP worked even better than expected.

In the early days of the pandemic there were lots of ideas how to keep staff now working from motivated - what activities / things did you do that worked well?
Through the use of various solutions such as our own internal secure meeting tool, and social media platforms, we are able to connect our remote employees together, allowing us to maintain a strong team spirit and boost morale.

Employees share fun experiences, create groups for share interests, and participate in group events, such as baking and photo competitions.

In addition we run Feel Good discussion rounds, virtual coffee breaks, and Never Lunch Alone sessions. These events help us to better monitor the mental health of our team and help our employees remain engaged and connected.

In some of these sessions management will be present as well motivational and inspirational guest speakers. In others sessions the team members are without a managerial presence, allowing them to get to know their colleagues in a more relaxed environment.

If you could go back in time and could plan for a pandemic, what would you do differently and why?
As the meme goes, it was the pandemic that push digital evolution forward more than any senior manager has managed in the past. With this in mind, it would have been good to have developed and utilise our remote capabilities prior to the pandemic.

How often do you meet with your team / colleagues and how ? zoom? skype other ? and also how well does this work for everyone?
We have daily interactions with various colleagues, as well as weekly team meetings, and organised remote social events, with guest speakers and chillout time.

Have you found colleagues are working harder, about the same as before or maybe a little less and why do you think that? please explain
Initially i think people were working harder, now i believe that people are working longer hours but within these hours, they are able to complete more personal tasks. This does however blur the lines of the work life balance making it difficult in some cases to remove yourself from the working environment.

Longer term do you think you may continue working like you do today or do you think you will get back to like it was before the pandemic hit us all?
I truly believe that we will continue to work using a hybrid model for the foreseeable future

How do you now train staff? how is this method working?
In order to facilitate remote training we utilises an internal secure web-meeting tool. The tool lets our trainers host secure video and audio conferencing with our environment. Providing attendees with virtual whiteboards, chat rooms, Q&A tools, and a high level of interactivity.

If you had to recruit new staff, how has this worked for you? Is it easier / harder? please explain
Sourcing and hiring the right people for the team is of fundamental importance. Using a 3 step approach: remote smart CV screening, remote interviews, and remote testing tools; we continue to ensure that we hire the right people.

What have you noticed in terms of staff turnover since the pandemic? any changes? and why do you think there has been a change (if any)
in some cases attrition has decreased, but on a whole it has remained fairly static.

Do you think your company is now better prepared to deal with a crisis like this or any other crisis (flood, fire, earthquake, hurricane etc) if it happens in the future and if so why?
Yes, indeed. the requirement for hot-site BCP solutions is almost a thing of the past.

Do you think the company you work for appreciates staff more and shows appreciation more now because of the pandemic or does it feel like you get the same or maybe even less appreciation?
Appreciation has always been a top priority, the pandemic has made it more challenging to reward people, however we continue to do so in remote team meetings, and financially with bonuses.

If you manage a team - how have you coped with the change ?
The daily activities continue as normal, with the expectation that we now have more remote meetings and spend more time either calling or chatting with each other.

If you are part of a team that worked closely together face to face how do you feel now working in a different way? maybe more remotely?
Despite the tools available, there is an aspect of face to face connectivity that the current technology cannot replicate. No matter how many remote "coffee sessions" you run they will never replicate a face to face environment where you are able to have ad-hoc chats, discuss what’s on your mind, or make silly jokes..

If you are a manager how do you help your team if they are struggling with personal issues at home or anxiety about the future?
In addition we run Feel Good discussion rounds, virtual coffee breaks, and Never Lunch Alone sessions. These events help us to better monitor the mental health of our team and help our employees remain engaged and connected.

Many people were concerned about security of information with remote agents - how have you handled this in your business so its not an issue?
With the use of secure VPN's and enhanced WFH contracts, we ensure that our partner’s data is as secure as it can be. Employees’ computers especially turn in to terminals where they can access our secure environment, limiting their ability to save or copy data directly to their computers.

Lastly, any other comments or opinions you can share about the effects of this pandemic on your business or the people working in your company?
it has done wonders for digital solution acceptance and innovation!


About TELUS International:
Company LogoTELUS International (NYSE and TSX: TIXT) designs, builds and delivers digital solutions to enhance the customer experience (CX) for global and disruptive brands. The company’s services support the full lifecycle of its clients’ digital transformation journeys and enable them to more quickly embrace next-generation digital technologies to deliver better business outcomes. TELUS International’s integrated solutions and capabilities span digital strategy, innovation, consulting and design, digital transformation and IT lifecycle solutions, data annotation and intelligent automation, and omnichannel CX solutions that include content moderation, trust and safety solutions and other managed solutions. Fueling all stages of company growth, TELUS International partners with brands across high growth industry verticals, including tech and games, communications and media, eCommerce and fintech, healthcare, and travel and hospitality.
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Today's Tip of the Day - How To Choose Speech Recognition

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Monday, May 24, 2021

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