As a unique approach in Hungary, since July this year, Vodafone Hungary has been offering customer service staff the opportunity to work from home in a permanent manner. Teleworking had already been part of ‘business-as-usual’ for the company; however, experience from recent months has shown that this approach can be introduced in areas such as customer service, where it had been thought to be unthinkable before. The company offers the option of continuing to work from home even after the epidemic, to colleagues enrolling in the programme; thus, taking a pioneering role in the development of innovative, digital ways of working.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of employees around the world to work from home. In mid-March, Vodafone ordered all its staff working in the company’s Budapest offices to work from home, which did not cause any disruption in the company’s life, as home office had been part of the daily routine for years. At the same time, there are colleagues for whom, due to the nature of their work, it would have been previously unthinkable to work from home. In view of the pandemic, the company also reorganised the work of these colleagues in a mere 2-3 weeks, allowing almost all of them to work from home during the emergency. The rapid switch-over gave a new impetus, so Vodafone began working on making the new approach to work feasible and workable in the long run. In the first phase starting in early July, 50 percent of customer service staff will have the option to work from home permanently, which the company plans to expand in the future.
In addition to the pandemic, the needs of employees also justified a change in the working method of customer service staff, as a survey had found that nearly three-quarters of employees would take advantage of working remotely in the long run. This is not surprising, as remote working has numerous benefits both for employees and employers. On the one hand, colleagues save time and money by eliminating the need for commuting to work, and, on the other hand, the solution allows for more flexible work, and these factors, in turn, reduce stress and increase job satisfaction. It is also extremely beneficial from the employer’s perspective, as with the need to commute to the office coming to an end, it will be possible to attract employees for whom commuting had previously been an issue. This means that people who live further from the office buildings or are potentially less mobile due to illness or care needs, can also join the company. It is also a great advantage that remote working optimises the use of office space, and a calm and quiet work environment at home results in focused work on the part of employees, which is also an extremely important factor for the employer.
“I believe that the negative effects of the coronavirus epidemic can be best mitigated by companies that learn from the experience of recent months, and incorporate their findings into their future operations. One such conclusion is that the efficiency of employees not only does not decrease, but in many cases actually increases when working from home. It is in view of this, as well as the needs of our employees, that we have decided to offer our customer service staff the opportunity to work remotely. In this regard, we are breaking new ground in Hungary, and we hope that, as a result, we will be able to welcome many talented new colleagues from all across the country in the future.” – said Gabriella Szentkuti, Director of Commercial Operations at Vodafone Hungary.
Vodafone Hungary has transformed the working method of its customer service staff in reflection of the findings of recent months and the feedback received from employees, in a way that allows them to work remotely, potentially in the long run, starting from July. This solution is unique in this area, as previously, mainly due to the IT infrastructure, it would have been inconceivable to switch customer service to remote working.
For this reason, Vodafone Hungary also pays careful attention to the introduction of the new work approach, including the health of its employees; checking, among other things, whether the conditions of safe working are in place in the long run for colleagues enrolling in the programme. If the home workstation meets the criteria identified, it will be fitted with any necessary IT equipment (e.g. notebook, headset, monitor and any necessary software support.).