Securing our work from home workforce

by Aaron Stafford | May 22, 2019


Consumer support over any channel, in any language, at any time: 5CA’s successful contact center as a service is possible because we use technology to make planet Earth our talent pool. It makes for a great story; expert service in any skill or language, an enticing work experience, and a sustainable business. It also presents an intriguing challenge: How do we balance flexibility, productivity, and security?

work from home security

To attract talented people from across the world, flexibility is key. Cloud computing, Work from Home (WFH) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) lie at the heart of our IT strategy. The vast majority of our team are agents: enthusiasts who, because of our asset-light philosophy are able to work in an environment, and with a kit, that makes the most sense for them.

Our toolset, our CX platform used by all of 5CA is a modular suite of best-of-breed, highly-configurable Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings. Each is chosen and continually reevaluated to maximize productivity. By keeping things modular, cloud-based and low-code, we’re able to elevate our thinking; to focus on quality work, experimentation, and innovation rather than IT fleet management, software development, and capital outlay.

Our agents work with personally identifiable information of the consumers with whom they interact, and they manipulate backend administration systems belonging to our customers. Security is, therefore, a priority, and like any challenge, there are a number of ways to achieve the same end.

If we ran a traditional contact center, we could address security by managing a physically secure facility and populating it with a clone army of managed PCs supported by a tightly controlled network. If we wanted time zone and language coverage, we’d cookie-cutter the solution to strategic geographies. We’d drive up our costs and limit ourselves to a pool of people willing to move within commute-distance of the centers, and of course who want to work in a contact center in the first place.

At 5CA, we take another approach: We dream big and embrace new technology and then run off with it! Today, the internet is cheap, and interoperable tech standards abound.

There’s nothing stopping us from taking the best SaaS products out there, screwing them together and making them available to people who want to make some money supporting others to enjoy a product or game as much as they do. Nothing at all, so long as we don’t compromise the confidentiality and integrity of the data in our care.

Let’s take a brief look at how we do that.

  • Control access: While it’s important to control who can access systems and how they do it, it’s equally important to exercise that control quickly and with no dependencies. At 5CA, we decide when an agent can no longer access both our systems and those of our customers. In the rare event that we say goodbye to an agent in a less than cordial manner, we can, without relying on other parties, disable their access immediately and completely.
  • Control the workspace: We create cloud-based virtual apps that allow us to manage the only means of accessing our CX platform’s SaaS systems. This means an agent is able to maintain their own device for personal use and to perform work they use our remote apps over which we maintain full control.
  • Control the perimeter: Logically separating our remote apps from the device that access them means that an agent cannot copy & paste, nor produce a hardcopy of the data they work on. Furthermore, by using cloud systems combined with multi-factor authentication, we render a lost or stolen device useless because it holds no work-related data and a password alone is insufficient to gain access to our platform.

There’s more to the story, but to share would be telling. Suffice to say; we don’t make and implement security decisions in a vacuum.

Our agents are key to our success, and their ability and willingness to perform their work productively can’t be blindly sacrificed in the name of security. The easiest way to make things secure is to remove flexibility. That’s also the least valuable approach. We’re constantly exploring security threats and tech innovations, and we’re speaking with agents, and their team leads to see how we can apply what we learn.

Just like tech innovation and the associated security threats, 5CA never stands still. It’s necessary to remain competitive, credible and to meet our customer’s growing compliance demands. That’s why we’re always testing a hypothesis here or spinning up a preview there in our continuous hunt for the right balance of flexibility, productivity and security.

Sometimes we don’t get that balance right; erring a little too far into security, but we learn and try to do better. All of 5CA’s IT team are ex-agents who know what the job involves, and they maintain productive relationships with today’s agent community. We in IT are fortunate to have such a group of supportive and tech-savvy agents willing to help us keep 5CA competitive. It’s unsurprising though; these are the same people who offer such high-quality consumer support. Making things better is in their DNA.


Aaron is our Chief Technology Officer, which puts him at the center of 5CA’s capability to deliver incredible things today and to do even more tomorrow. Australian by birth and Dutch & British by choice, Aaron’s collection of passports rivals that of Jason Bourne. According to Aaron, IT is a fantastic industry to be in: It’s always changing, there’s always something new to learn and plenty of opportunities to make things better. IT’s biggest plus though is its people: Interesting, smart and geeky; there’s never a dull moment in the IT crowd.