Work from Home

Outmaneuvering COVID-19: Rapid Deployment of WAHA Agents

Daniel Julien - 04.06.2020

When the pandemic began, and early developments emerged from China, the world collectively held its breath. No one was sure what would become of this new, Wuhan-born virus. Would it just be another H1N1, or SARs? Or something different entirely?

As we now know, COVID-19 has become something far more sinister, taking the world by storm and changing our lives in ways we never could have imagined within just a few short months. First, business operations were interrupted by public transit shutdowns and regional lockdowns in the Hubei Province. Business continuity plans were quickly invoked, and adjusted to meet this new, incredibly unique set of circumstances.

While those early days in China may seem like an eternity ago, I mention it because it was an important time of enlightenment for us at Teleperformance. What we did in China became a blueprint for the rest of our operations around the world - reducing the number of people remaining at our centers by transitioning some agents to work-at-home (WAHA). This approach helps to ensure proper distancing and reduced risk for on-site interaction experts supporting essential services.

By early March, Italy became the next hot spot and we all realized the bleak reality of COVID-19. And those key, early learnings from China were quickly and more broadly applied to ensure business continuity and employee safety around the world. As a result, we committed early on – to our employees and clients alike – to ensure the safety of our work force through proper distancing and dispersement.

So, with the full force and might of our global 330,000 employee army, Teleperformance established unprecedented goals for the rapid deployment of WAHA in every region, all around the world. In mid-March, the executive leadership team committed that we would aggressively convert at least 50% of our customer support work force to work-from-home status by April 15th. Considering that our pre-Coronavirus WAHA footprint was around 10,000 (still among the highest in the BPO industry at that time), this would be no small feat. But we mobilized all Teleperformance resources toward making that goal a reality. 

As a result, I am extremely proud – and incredibly humbled – to announce that we have not only already met our goal, but we’ve surpassed it!

By April 6th, we exceeded that original goal by reaching nearly 120,000 active work-at-home agents – more than a week early! 

Now we have a new target. Over the next few weeks, we will achieve 2/3 of our work stations on work-at-home – so we can even further reduce the number of people remaining at our sites and provide even greater physical distancing.

This is all the result of incredibly hard, grueling work by #TPheroes all around the globe, from every location, job function, and line of business. Our IT teams have worked day and night to ensure proper, safe agent access and data security. Operations and facility teams have labored to deliver the equipment and resources our new WAHA agents need, while making sure that essential service agents remaining on-site are protected. HR teams have closely overseen employee health monitoring and delivery of new WAHA training, while our recruiters have worked overtime to hire thousands of new work-from-home resources for clients needing additional capacity. Agents, accustomed to working in their bustling call centers were suddenly forced to work from the solitude of their homes – while still delivering the best-in-class support and empathy TP is known for. 

Progress on all fronts was carefully tracked via daily updates, and our WAHA deployments accelerated to even pre-empt business closures and civic lockdowns around the globe. Beyond business continuity, this model for proactive planning and business agility fueled our ability to outmaneuver virus-related restrictions and, in many cases, avoid business disruption entirely.

Everyone at Teleperformance came together under a single, common goal in a way the BPO industry has never seen before. And this could only be achieved because our Teleperformance family is the best in the business. Period.

After 40 years at the helm of this company, I’ve never been more #Proudtobetp. You are all #TPheroes to me.

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