On Friday 20th March, we had already established homeworking for our team at QStory, a global pandemic had been declared, schools were closing that day, the UK was going into lockdown and I was hit with severe breathlessness and a terrible dry cough. I had my first visit by an ambulance crew dressed in “lite” PPE.
Some weeks prior to this, I’d been visiting our customers and had discussed their plans for an escalation in what was at that time a coronavirus outbreak in China, Iran and Italy. Only one customer was moving to home working (laptops were actually being delivered that day), others were thinking about homeworking. Some customers already had a homeworking strategy in place and were aiming for a trial for a small group of employees during 2020. But it didn’t feel like a top priority – there were plenty of other business pressures that needed to be addressed.
Seven weeks later I finally came back to work. In seven short weeks (although it felt longer as I battled the virus) our industry had transformed.
Customers who were planning on trialing homeworking with 20 agents in the next 12 months had moved thousands of agents home. Some had moved 70% of their employees to home, and spaced out the other 30% within different buildings to safely have them in the workplace. Others had sufficient office space to put in a “chess board” layout to abide by the social distancing rules.
In those seven short weeks, whilst clearly there was no other choice but to do this – customers need to be served and employees need to be safe – I returned to work to a new world. It was quite surreal! I suspect we will find that homeworking is our “new normal” even when the virus threat has passed. Congratulations to everyone in the industry for the Herculean efforts made.
I hope everyone stays safe and well and as an industry with this “new normal” we continue to provide the high levels of support and service customers have come to expect and deserve.
More to follow.