We began testing our strategies for full remote working several weeks before the government announced lockdown. With our systems in place, our entire team was encouraged to work remotely a week before the lockdown order.
Business as usual monitoring was carried out over the first week to ensure everything we do could be done and done smoothly. We already had Teams, Slack and GoToMeeting in place but we were surprised by the take-up of Zoom and have now incorporated it across our operations.
At ROCC, we’ve scaled up our IT support teams for the housing providers we work alongside, recognising that during this crisis, IT teams need extra levels of cohesive support. As part of adapting our new levels of service to help our customers, we’ve completely integrated our relevant staff into customers’ teams, thereby helping customers who’ve had to furlough their own staff with additional resources.
We’ve also kept a close eye on the wellbeing of our own teams. We operate a flexible working policy anyway; we’ve found that one of the big benefits of flexible working is that colleagues are far more productive at home than they are in an office environment. With everyone, including our customers, being now home based, we quickly found that our teams were actually working much longer hours than before, coupled with being much more productive. We have therefore had to ensure that our teams are taking regular breaks for their wellbeing!
I’m really proud of how our team at ROCC has stepped up to combat this crisis together; they’ve remained calm and determined to deliver results for our customers. We’re going further, supporting people in the team to contribute to the Covid-19 fight. Colleagues are making a positive difference by volunteering to make washable scrubs bags for the NHS, building face shields with 3D printers and staffing food banks.
We’ve also adapted our marketing and sales as a result of the crisis; we recognise there are bigger challenges facing our customers right now, so we’ve shifted our marketing towards ‘quiet support’; it’s simply a case of letting people know that we’re here to help if they need us, but not jamming our messages down their throats.
I’ve been very disappointed by how some IT suppliers have reacted to these challenges, seeing it as an opportunity to make more money from their clients. We’ve completely taken the opposite approach, maintaining our core values of being long-term strategic partners and critical friends to our clients and potential clients.
During the first week of lockdown, we contacted our customers to let them know that we would help them with their software or data challenges completely free of charge if they needed support, say, in pausing non-critical housing maintenance and repairs.
Within the first few weeks of lockdown, we were operating at such a level that our ISO quality team was able to pass our first ISO audit remotely, which was a good indicator for us that we have the right systems in place.
The next steps for us are to stay ahead of the government again. We didn’t wait for them to tell us to take our operations to fully remote working and we won’t wait again for them to tell us what the ‘new normal’ is. Our management teams are now putting together their visions for what our new normal should be and we will begin implementing this over the coming weeks.
Peter Luck is the director of operations at ROCC.