Labour Relations Agency Northern Ireland
The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) provides impartial and confidential employment relations service to those engaged in industry, commerce and the public services. Their services include the provision of advice on good employment practices and assistance with the development and implementation of employment policies and procedures. LRA also provides dispute resolution through conciliation, mediation and arbitration services. At its core is a contact centre service providing multiple streams of support and advice for employees & employers alike.
Meeting a need for urgent operational change.
When Covid struck, the organisation of over 80 staff operated like most others, staff worked almost entirely from the office. The Agency faced a particularly acute problem, its services were going to be in even higher demand as employers and employees grappled with how to operate in the new environment and its effect on organisations and employees rights and obligations.
The common response of many organisations & businesses was to reduce services, particularly telephone services to clients. For Labour Relations Agency this was unpalatable, so working with Atlas Communications, they made a complete operational change and did in around 8 weeks.
For Atlas and Labour Relations Agency, investing in short term answers wasn’t the best route forward. The objectives were straightforward, maintain its core services including its vital contact centre based operation and maintain its ability to measure and monitor all aspects of its service performance.
Success meant the public facing telephony service had to operate without restriction exactly as it did previously, the Agency could not work effectively just by having remote access to data applications. Using Mitel technology solutions, Atlas & the Agency delivered a complete remote working Mitel telephony & contact centre service for all the Agency staff. This enable full public facing operations, including a 40 agent contact centre team, to continue working despite their offices being shut. With security being vital, the telephony solution was delivered as a secure encrypted service over the Internet back to the central telephony & contact centre platform.
The Labour Relations Agency had shifted its entire operations in 8 weeks and further developed its capabilities as restrictions continued, expanding into true mobile device integration all users into the telephony & contact centre platform. Once completed the Agency had a long term platform in place to support its operations, no matter the circumstances.
Whilst most organisations found ways to manage in first months of Covid-19, Labour Relations Agency used technology to fundamentally change the way it operates and manage flexible operations for the present and the future. Many organisations, over a year on from the first impacts of Covid-19 have still to return to provision of full services and are still grappling with the management of home working and delivery of the technology solutions that enable them to serve the public as they would have done prior to March 2020.
Working with Atlas & Mitel strengthened the Agency’s ability to work in crisis and disaster recovery situations. Employers and employees continued to find its services available at the end of the phone line.
For Paul Herink, Manager of IT Services at the Agency, the ability to change operations effectively and at speed shows that Public Sector organisations with the right solutions can meet unexpected challenges. ‘We are a public service and so much of what we do can’t just be handled by an email. Covid was going to increase demand for our services, as employers and employees sought to navigate their way through an unprecedented situation. We made the choice to invest in long term capability from the start, both in technology and in working with partners such as Atlas who understand what we need and can react at speed. We dealt with the immediate problem and strengthened our long term capabilities to transition quickly and work flexibly.’