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Coping with Covid

Over the course of every year, we review all of our ISO 27001 documentation set to ensure that it is up to date and that there is mutual recognition between our processes and how we’ve documented them, i.e. that we do what we say we do.

Fenner working from home.One of those documents is our ‘Business Continuity Management’. In there we have a fairly exhaustive list of potential incidents – fire, flood, power cut, and so on – and how we would cope with them. It has to be admitted that ‘Global pandemic’ isn’t on the list except, arguably, under ‘Other emergencies’.

To be honest, many of the more physically catastrophic incidents are dealt with simply by everyone working from home. Pretty much everything is stored in the cloud these days so the only thing we miss by not being in the office is each other! However, never in my most apocalyptic dreams did I think we’d be out of the office for four months. So, how have we coped? The answer is very well, actually.

Our Technical Director, Steve, runs a Scrum session every morning at nine-fifteen to check on progress and plans for the day ahead, and this provides an opportunity for people to arrange calls with one another to share ideas and expertise. For a team that has been together for so long, this works perfectly well. And over the course of the day, we keep in touch by various means, including Microsoft Teams and the old fashioned practice of picking up the phone.

Similarly, we’ve been communicating with our clients in the same way. Given that we have very few local clients, this isn’t uncommon for us, anyway, but what has changed is dealing with new and potential clients. I’m a big believer in establishing a relationship with our clients and until this year that’s always meant making the effort of travelling for face to face meetings. That’s no longer possible and we have clients now whom I’ve never met in person. That would have been inconceivable to me at the start of the year.

Lou working from home.And while the team have always had the option of working a couple of days a week from home, people have rarely taken up the offer, so I was slightly anxious about everyone working from home full time but that’s worked out well: we’re still hitting our deadlines and delivering to spec and on budget, like we always have. So will we hang on to our office or will lockdown lead to a permanent change in our working habits?

Right now, I’d say that while we will change, we won’t be giving up our lease. Part of the reason we’ve been successful in this new situation is that we all know each other well. At some point, though, those relationships need refreshing and we need to be together to feel part of a team, which is very important to me. We will be recruiting again soon and I think it will be hard for anyone to get a feel for how we work without living the experience.

I have been chatting to some of my colleagues about this all through the lockdown and I think that one way forward for us will be to have one or two days a week with everyone in the office and the rest of the time people can do what suits them best. It’s vital to our continuing success that people are happy working for Meantime and one thing I am grateful for – the silver lining that has come from the lockdown – is that we’ve all had the opportunity to experiment with a different way of working so that we can see what suits us.

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