2Degrees launches first fully-remote call centre roles

'We had to approach this challenge with new thinking'

2Degrees launches first fully-remote call centre roles

New Zealand telco 2Degrees has created its first ever fully remote call centre roles as Kiwis embrace the flexibility offered by working from home. The move comes amid the country’s talent-short market, where many jobseekers are prioritising factors like remote working options over pay. The new jobs are the first fully remote jobs at 2Degrees, meaning every part will be managed virtually from recruiting, through to onboarding, training and performance management.

Speaking to HRD, 2Degrees’ chief customer operations officer, Tracy Leighton, who spearheaded the project, said offering fully remote roles allows the company to build a stronger Kiwi-based customer care team.

“We’re really keen to super charge regional areas and make New Zealand a better place to live and work - creating flexible employment opportunities outside of the main centres is one way we can do that,” she said.

“We consistently see that staff retention is higher when people are supported and engaged, and we have a strong focus on talent identification and career development so that we can build robust teams.

“That’s why it was important to us that these roles see the same benefits as jobs in our physical call centre. Successful applicants will qualify for the same commission and bonus structures, with ongoing support, training and development opportunities.”

Read more: Flexible working: Is it given or is it earned?

Pre-pandemic, few companies would have envisioned call centre staff working from home. It was a job innately tied to working in a certain physical location – or so we thought. But during the enforced lockdowns, first in March last year, and still now for those in Auckland, being able to work from home gave organisations like 2Degrees better business continuity, meaning regardless of restrictions, staff could support their customers. Beyond that, some employees have thrived in a remote working set-up, and after lockdown ended, the idea of returning to the office full time felt less appealing.

The move by 2Degress signals businesses rethinking roles that were traditionally office-based, to ensure that as much as possible, two classes of workers don’t emerge. Leighton said the company’s customer care specialists proved they could adapt during the initial lockdown, and it was only right to embrace those gains, rather than simply fall back into old ways of working.

“Finding new ways of attracting talent meant we had to approach this challenge with new thinking,” she said.

“It’s exciting to be working with a completely different Customer Care model and offering fully flexible roles to Kiwis anywhere in New Zealand. This works beautifully for people who don’t want to work their hours within the bounds of 9am to 5pm. This team can work their hours around their lifestyle, from the comfort of their own home.”

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In an earlier chat with HRD, 2Degrees chief people officer Jodie Shelley said the desire for flexibility had impacted the way businesses in New Zealand must operate. As a result of the pandemic, 2Degrees had converted the recruitment process for its call centre roles into a virtual process and used AI technology to streamline the process.

They also set up a dedicated call service for workers who have experienced a difficult customer to make sure staff have psychological support while working from home. It’s one example of how the HR team is creating a safety net for remote staff. They’ve also implemented training and guidance from Lifeline to encourage staff to seek support whenever they need it.

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