Think globally but act locally - John Devlin

The pandemic is creating a once-in-a-generation opportunity for versatile, imaginative businesses to unlock talent, help underserved communities and shape hybrid working.

John Devlin is the co-founder and CEO of Ascensos

That is why we are launching Ascensos Local. Our community-focused vision upends the model for outsourced customer servicing. It does so through a home working model that puts good careers where they are needed most, connects closely with localities and promises to revitalise ravaged high streets.

Ascensos Local employees will work from home and link with the company and colleagues through high street hubs, all sited in economically struggling areas.

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The first Ascensos Local will open in Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, this autumn, creating 100 home-working jobs in a town with a population of around 10,000 people. Six others will follow. The job numbers may not seem large in absolute terms, but they will have a significant impact where created.

The hubs represent a post-pandemic emphasis for Ascensos on all our communities: The ones we service across ecommerce, retail and government, and those where we work, train and recruit. The hubs will also help maintain social connections, reducing the risk of mental health issues triggered by isolation that can arise with work from home.

Ascensos Local will unlock talent that is available but ignored because of geography or lack of imagination. It will encourage people to stay with us by offering purposeful and productive careers. This is more than the right thing to do: Our sector must find and keep the increasingly skilled workforces needed to meet client expectations.

The local model will still foster corporate identity, social contact and collaboration, but whilst recognising that life, as we now know keenly, is about human connections and community. The high street as a place and an idea is where much of that rich social connection finds its best expression.

The hubs will weld us visibly to communities and recognise that work from home is now a settled fact of life, confirming a trajectory evident from growing use of digital technology even before the pandemic. Covid-19 has simply been its accelerant.

Above all, we are offering communities defined by unemployment, decline or production line jobs a chance to share in the digital economy.

The new high street Ascensos will be where colleagues go to socialise and from where they can head out to shop. Although places to drop in not clock in, hubs will also be where management is based and training takes place.

Each will not only bring footfall to high streets, but also develop local college courses relevant to the digital future. We intend hubs to be available free, out-of-ours, to local community-based organisations.

Ours is a solution to the key post-Covid challenge facing employers as they adapt to hybrid working, and it meet the needs of wider society for the benefits of economic recovery to be shared.

We are confident and excited. It helps that our own ‘born local, grown global’ ethos has already turned Ascensos into an international business, headquartered in Motherwell but servicing world-leading brands, including B&Q, Peleton and KFC.

Ascensos Local takes forward what we already practice successfully. Our 300-seat centre opened on the Isle of Wight three years ago is now the biggest private employer on the island, contributing £30 million to a vulnerable local economy. That is real impact. We can repeat that contribution all over the country to the benefit of Ascensos, our clients and the underserved communities where we are based.

Ascensos Local is more than a key part of the future for one company, it answers questions around flexible working in the service sector with an insight: Get smaller to get bigger because we are all in this work from home future together.

John Devlin is the co-founder and CEO of Ascensos, which is headquartered in Motherwell and employs 3,000 people across its network of offices in Glasgow, Isle of Wight, Bucharest and Istanbul.