Coronavirus has taken the world by storm, affecting businesses in so many ways, leaving companies forced to change and adapt to new methods and ways of working. Here at Claritas, we are one of the many businesses who has adopted new processes to ensure effective working for both staff and our clients.
Take a look at how we’ve faced the challenge of working remotely head on, with insights from some of our great team members.
What company-wide procedures has Claritas put in place to tackle working during the Coronavirus pandemic?
Currently, all staff are working from home where possible, and we have provided additional laptops and purchased other equipment to ensure staff have everything they need to work effectively from home. Our HR and Line managers have kept staff regularly updated, both prior to and during the pandemic. We first communicated to our staff, the move to remote working, on the 3rd March, and have continued to communicate regularly as the situation and guidance has changed.
HR updates have been worded carefully to ensure the right balance of guidance and support is obtained in every message, and the management team is closely following government advice, best practice, and is allowing all staff to work from home flexibly. Furthermore, employees have been sent links to government and NHS sites and have also been provided with links to address Health and Safety issues related to working from home.
We have engineers who go out to data centres, so we have been reiterating the government guidelines on social distancing and best hygiene practices. We also had a letter printed off for each of our engineers to keep in their cars during the earlier weeks of lockdown should they be stopped by police. This letter advised that they are key workers helping to maintain and support I.T. government solutions.
We’ve tried our very best to limit the amount of time and visits to data centres each week to protect our engineers and ensure they’re only away from home for as long as is absolutely necessary. This means being more efficient with work by having a data centre actions queue, which can be worked on during a trip to the data centre.
How is the team keeping in touch on a daily basis?
All our teams have regular team calls and cross team calls where necessary, and face-to-face meetings have been replaced by Skype or another video conferencing tool like Zoom. We are making best use of instant messaging tools, email, and we are encouraging our staff to pick up the phone for a chat!
Working from home has been quite an adjustment. The hardest thing for me has been not seeing anyone, so getting things done can take longer and it can be isolating not working alongside your team. However, I have regular team meetings and 1-2-1s via Skype and Zoom most days. It helps keep me sane!
Katie Fraser-Smith, Marketing Manager
How is the team keeping in touch and continuing to service its clients?
We recently carried out a survey of all clients to gauge how they would prefer us to keep in contact, and we also send them regular emails with updates, blogs, and news. Our weekly roundup blogs and social media posts keep our clients up to date with all things I.T. and tech.
Initially, when lockdown first occurred, getting hold of customers and suppliers was a challenge due to many people working from home or being furloughed. We found that some of our customers were not prepared for remote working, however, this has improved on the whole, as companies have had to adjust to the major changes. We have assisted our customers, helping them to overcome this barrier by offering advice and products to allow them to adopt effective remote working practices.
Our support team is close to deploying a new application which will allow us to better support our customers remotely. This new application will allow us to gain control of a user’s machine (with their permission, of course) and investigate any issues they may be seeing with their own hardware.
Maintaining service levels has continued throughout lockdown, I am keeping in touch via email, telephone and video conferencing; this has proved very effective, using technology to bridge the challenges that may have occurred face to face i.e. travel time delays, cancellations, getting the right resources available... even re-scheduling is much easier.
I have found that contacting most of my clients has been easier as everyone is working from home, therefore having access to their computers which makes organising and follow up calls easier.
Phil Yau, Account Manager
I have worked from home one day a week for a number of years. The vast majority of the teams that I lead, or am a part of, include people working remotely including customers. So most of my meetings have always been virtual. The biggest change for me is having to work from home five days a week and not being able to have conversations in the office with colleagues or face-to-face meetings. There is a bonus though - not having the two hour motorway commute into the office each day – however I am missing my daily fix of podcasts!
Simon Fogg, Operational Support
What security steps has Claritas put in place to ensure secure remote working?
Luckily, we had already pre-planned for working from home, with an obvious step of moving away from desktop machines and making sure all engineers had a laptop each. Because of the nature of our business, we already have robust security systems and procedures in place for remote working.
How is the Claritas team maintaining a healthy, work-life balance?
Many of our employees have children and are juggling working from home with home schooling – our management team has been understanding about this and is happy for employees to work flexibly. Moreover, staff are reminded via HR Updates and through line managers that the company advocate working flexibly.
It has been stressed that output is not being micromanaged and that the company trust staff to complete work in a timely manner or raise concerns with their line manager. The approach adopted has, at all times, been balanced, supportive and reassuring.
It has been tremendously encouraging to see staff adapting to the challenges, working flexibly, supporting one another and dealing with this unprecedented situation calmly and rationally. I feel that now more than ever we have a great team who have demonstrated that they will do their best to support one another, try their hardest and do their very best for our clients under very challenging circumstances.
Pat Genn, HR Manager
What preparations are being made for the return to work?
We can’t wait to get back to work in the office, but Government guidance is being monitored and followed closely. We have undertaken risk assessments and have integrated these into our normal day to day risk assessments. These are detailed documents designed to highlight the risks associated with returning to work under the constraints of the pandemic, to ensure we then apply specific procedures. These procedures mitigate any of the risks identified as much as possible to ensure our staff are protected as much as possible, and in line with Government and Health and Safety Executive guidelines.
New hygiene measures have been put in place, including placing hand sanitiser pumps by all entrances to the building and in the kitchen and bathroom facilities. Personal hand sanitisers will also be placed on all desks for the return to work.
If we can support your business working from home throughout this unprecedented time, or if you simply have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us.