July 2020

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that there has been huge change taking place across our business over the last few months. In early March, following government guidelines, 98% of our entire team, over 300 people, moved to home working as a measure to protect against Covid-19. Like many other businesses, we needed to act quickly and efficiently to not only keep our people safe, but to ensure our customers didn’t notice any change in the usual excellent level of service they are used to.

With the majority of our team working on office-based desktop computers, it was no easy task to source and set up over 250 laptops at such short notice but thanks to our fantastic Business Support Services and IT teams, our team members were working from home successfully, including a fully operating Contact Centre being able to continue to serve our 1.2 million customers quickly and efficiently.

During the months of lockdown, I was incredibly proud at how our team pulled together to support each other, including our fantastic internal networks; our Health and Wellbeing Committee and Working Parents Network. Not only did we have to discover a brand new, dynamic way of serving our customers, but our leadership team had to quickly adapt to ‘leading from their living rooms’, working with their teams virtually to ensure they received the same level of support they are used to when working in the office, as well as ensuring their physical and mental wellbeing is being looked after at all times.

I was also incredibly proud to work with Wessex Water and later Bristol Water, on their NHS rebate scheme which launched during lockdown. This provided all eligible NHS staff a £50 discount on their water bills to cover the additional water use required due to the increase of washing uniforms. In total our team handled over 16,000 NHS rebate applications and I am very proud of the teamwork and departmental collaboration that went into this process and that we were able to do our bit to support our NHS Heroes.

I have read some fantastic articles around who has been responsible for business transformation and I have to agree that recently, Covid-19 has been the driver behind this movement. As a business, we are always on the lookout for ways to simplify, innovate and prepare for the future and Covid-19 has certainly made us look more in depth at what we can be doing to support our customers and our people in the coming years. We have introduced new technology, simplified processes, improved communication and developed our people initiatives over the last few months, some which may have otherwise taken longer to come to light. I am extremely proud at how quickly and passionately our team have adapted to change and sought to find a silver lining in an otherwise difficult and worrying time for the country and the world.

In the last few weeks, our people have been returning to our offices with measures in place to protect the safety of everyone while at work. The measures we have put in place are straight forward but effective, including increased cleaning, automatic hand sanitising stations, one-way systems, an e-learning module, clear signage and a reduced number of people within our buildings. We are now busy investigating new measures we can put in place to be able to welcome back more of our people, one of which is installing safety screens between desks.

Covid-19 has been an eye opening experience for business up and down the country and across the globe and although none of us can be sure of exactly what the coming months will hold, I am proud of each and every one of our team who have continued to serve our customers and support their colleagues with positivity and passion.