Phil Sugden, Portal Group UK’s Sales & Marketing Director, discusses the challenges facing fast-growing contact centre businesses looking to expand or relocate and how Portal’s Managed Office Solutions concept has provided a seamless property solution for growing companies.
Speed, space and quality – for a rapidly growing contact centre business, the process of expansion can often be a balancing act against the clock.
The classic challenge for a contact centre that has outgrown its existing premises is finding andsetting up an additional location with access to high-calibre colleagues in a short amount of time.
A critical need for many companies requiring new operational customer services environments is to tap into a fresh source of talent. Naturally, location is key but there were other factors that were crucial, such as speed to market, known costs, and minimal distractions and risk to a business as a whole.
One practical example of how Portal have provided a risk-free solution to these business needs, was the creation of a bespoke customer service hub and new home in the East Midlands, a modern, vibrant 80,000-sq-ft contact centre located in the heart of England’s city of Leicester employing over 850 colleagues.
What made this transitional project different, streamlined and cost-effective was the use of the managed office solution concept (MOS).
MOS removes Capex obligation, mitigates property risk and provides cost certainty for the moving company by presenting a fixed price operating cost (Opex), with no exit fees or dilapidation charges.
Rather than self-sourcing and investing capital expenditure in what would be a large, ‘from-shell’ project, MOS spared its clients the headache of funding and fit-out was outsourced and Capex was replaced with fixed monthly Opex for the property itself.
Portal delivered an impressive customer service hub within just six months, from the point of finalising contract terms with a chosen supplier and took no Capex hit in the process, meaning that relocating and expanding businesses could concentrate on what they do best, business, rather than tying up substantial budgets into a costly process.
Coming out of their shell
Let’s go back to the start. After an extensive investigation of a number of potential cities and regions, Portal discovered an easily accessible location for contact centre companies, alongside other clients, with what is considered a large, available and suitable demographic profile.
For people-centred businesses, the ability to attract and retain colleagues remained a major part of the corporate real estate (CRE) equation, but it was also necessary to get the facility up and running quickly, as well as provided infrastructure works to provide a suitable environment.
The multi-use building needed a complete-shell fit-out to include structural alterations, as well as delivery of a workplace aligned to support colleagues and brand values. In turn, this type of project demanded a high level of property expertise and experience.
The extent and size of the works also meant that there would be substantial capex investment necessary to refurbish. This scenario left the clients with two challenges: overcoming the potential delay in being able to wrap up capacity, and funding the large up-front investment associated with the refurbishment and fit-out.
At this point, Portal introduced its alternative CRE approach that could be considered to address both issues as well as minimise ongoing risks and offer greater flexibility over the longer term.
Magnificent spaces and where to find them
Portal’s MOS also supplied the answer to another pressing problem: how to house additional customer service colleagues for businesses in the interim period whilst their new workspace was being prepared.
As part of the contract which was put together, Portal sourced, negotiated and supplied, initial temporary 1,500-sq. m (16,000-sq.-ft.) Category A facilities.
This allowed companies to kick-start their call centre operations in Leicester in just two months, with the possibility to phase into the newly developed site at a pace which suited them.
With every business taking pride in its work culture so it is vital that any new workspace, including those at St George, reflected any brand values or company cultures.
To achieve this, from the outset, Portal’s discovery process was undertaken that engaged all key stakeholders and created a detailed understanding of any strategic and tactical requirements the relocating businesses may have had.
This detailed blueprint acted as the foundation for creating a tailored workspace that would effectively optimise the available space.
Fit-out in style
Once the discovery process was completed, Portal worked in collaboration with partners, including workplace design-and-build specialists TSK Group to design and implement a modern working environment created specifically to appeal to the employees moving into the new workspaces.
This included innovative ideas such as bright, stimulating open-plan offices and break-out areas, and themed meeting rooms named after famous Leicester celebrities.
A collection of contemporary yet private meeting spaces provide break-out areas and the layout of desks is unregimented so there is a freedom, fluidity and sense of light and cathedrallike space within the building that challenge the notions of conventional contact-centre design.
Glass pods, sofa booths and curved mini auditoriums known as ‘huddles’ within the open-plan office environment allow for impromptu conversations and have been created for team get-togethers. These spaces are an intrinsic part of the design and act as landmarks for navigating the centre.
The aims for St. George’s were to create an environment that both attracts and retains colleagues and it is evident that the result is a contact centre that all colleagues can be proud of. The site has recently been the subject of a promotional video that shows off the company to potential new colleagues.
Looking to the future
The role of MOS has not only been critical in the early stages of the Leicester site, but contributes to the ongoing building and facilities management, including planned works to the centre. With a dedicated onsite manager provided by Portal, operations have a single point of contact that is responsible for every aspect of buildings and facilities management, from security and health and safety, to maintenance and cleaning.
For more information about Managed Office Solutions visit www.portalgroup.uk.com