It’s doubtful that many could have predicted how 2020 was going to shape up, with the impact of COVID-19 reaching across the globe and into every aspect of people’s lives. If ever there was a time for Business Continuity Planning (BCP) to have its moment; this was one of them. But how prepared were we, how did we manage in reality and what have we learned?
As a tech-driven transformational consultancy, we have always worked flexibly based on our customer needs, whether being co-located with the customer, based in an Infinity Works office or working remotely. We had already executed a BCP exercise in preparation for remote working, but that said, shifting to a 100% remote model wasn’t defined as the “new normal” until the Prime Minister’s announcement on March 23rd.
By working collaboratively across our business and with our customers, we’ve been able to successfully transition to remote working and have continued to deliver high quality work for our customers including helping some customers adapt their customer facing technology quickly (in a matter of days) to support new COVID-19 challenges.
We have focused on two main areas; 1) Ways of Working and 2) Pastoral care and people wellbeing.
In terms of day to day delivery and ways of working we’ve seen the following work well to bring together our teams in the absence of face-to-face contact;
- Continuing to run daily stand-ups remotely to make sure the team stays connected and aligned raising and addressing any blockers that are being faced;
- We’ve tested different ways of running retrospectives, planning sessions, workshops and VMOST sessions to identify improved ways of working;
- Looked at different ways of doing pair development and running remote recruitment sessions;
- Slack has been the main platform for ad-hoc team interactions to get things answered quickly, things that you might have otherwise have discussed over a coffee or across the desk. We also have a number of Slack channels for different groups which provide opportunities for some light hearted conversations;
- We’ve used Google Meet and other technologies for video conferencing which has brought many teams closer as teammates and have even met each other’s partners, children and pets!
As a business we’ve always prided ourselves on having a more down to earth and less “corporate” approach when it comes to how we manage our people. Here are some of the things we have implemented during lockdown:
- One-to-one check-ins from our People Operations team with every employee to make sure they were coping at home, had what they needed and in some cases just to provide a familiar friendly face to have small talk with (from someone that wasn’t part of their day-to-day project team). Where employees have needed additional support with lockdown we have looked to provide this through our People Operations team or via our third party;
- During the first four weeks of lockdown everyone was able to choose a “Boredom Battler” treat to help them keep entertained outside of work. Options included Disney + and baking club subscriptions, language courses, online reading, games, music and fitness apps. By offering our employees choices from subscriptions, treats and activities, everyone had a wide range of things to choose from that could be enjoyed alone or with other members of their household;
- During the following four weeks of lockdown everyone was able to choose a “Care Package” treat this time which ranged from cheese boxes to paint by numbers, again looking to provide a welcome boost of something that could be done outside work;
- We have provided additional equipment to support home working; from mice to monitors and in some cases even desks and chairs. Our IT and office management teams worked hard looking for the suitable products and given the surge in demand, had to be resourceful to find equipment that would arrive quickly;
- We have continued to run social activities in a remote fashion, whether that’s board games, quiz nights, virtual yoga, Friday night drinks at the “Lockdown Arms”, step challenges or sponsored head and beard shaving for our nominated charity. It’s kept the team connected and engaged and makes everyone miss each other a little less!
We’re now nearly 18 weeks into remote working and the majority of our staff are enjoying the ability to work from home, with many using their lack of commuting to focus on increased personal fitness. Not every week is plain sailing and probably everyone has had a challenging week (or two) at some point. However, in many respects we’re all a little closer to one another from sharing more of our personal challenges during lockdown and some “through the keyhole” moments!