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You are here : At Home > Corporate > News
17 April 20
Nick Burton, Affinity Water’s Head of IT and OT Service Delivery, tells the Affinity Water podcast series how he and his team of 20 plus facilitated 800 staff working from home as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. How did they do it? Hard work, determination and a great Enterprise wide team spirit.
With the help of the professional teams and colleagues across Affinity’s work streams, Nick was able to mobilise the digital workplace protocols to set up all staff, who didn’t already have them with laptops or converted desk top computers so that they could work from home.
His call logs show his IT team had three times the number of calls than usual, but that Affinity Water’s employees also played their part by easily adapting to home working with few problems.
When obstacles, such as a need for more headphones, did reveal themselves, Affinity’s suppliers rose to the challenge and pulled out all the stops to ensure the necessary deliveries were made.
The sense of ‘team’ during this intense working period was significant and with the help of a few food home deliveries, including pizzas, the Affinity Water IT team were able to motivate one-another and work hard to get the job done.
Nick thinks companies may well want to think about how to implement more home working when this crisis ends.
Nick said: “It was a real challenge. The issue we have had was that we had 800 office-based workers that we wanted to mobilise to work from home. Some others were already doing that. A lot of the teams such as community operations or production supply, have the where-with-all to work from outside the HQ, but if you are in the office you will need a laptop. We have enabled our digital workplace strategy, which facilitated that. We had quite a challenge to work out who had the equipment and capability to work from home and who we needed to help. The figures are about 800 staff and within a couple of weeks we were able to get them all to work from home and the business has been able to keep functioning as normal.”
“We had an IT disaster recovery plan written and edited and ready, and an IT business continuity plan. We had practiced these scenarios but not where all the sites were now off limits to us because of social distancing, this went one step further.
“We had more than 20 people working on this from the IT team at any one time. The infrastructure teams, the application teams, the service delivery teams, the desktop engineers. The challenges came think and fast. Our supply chains in China were starting to struggle to deliver to us, things like the headsets and the laptops. Every day we were on the line finding out from our suppliers what equipment was available to us. We did manage to get bulk orders of laptops in and we still have some coming in during April. We had to alter the standard desktop PC build to facilitate working from home for our Teams. We had to consider cyber security and the usability of the systems. There’s quite a lot to do when you are trying to create a new home PC build when people also have to be kept safe and productive.
“People did still come and expect face to face help, so we created an air gap and got them to leave their equipment in reception so a big change in the way we work.
“The internal customer base embraced a new way or working so they showed a lot of patience and that was reciprocated on behalf of the service teams taking their calls. We’ve had some great feedback on how well the IT team coped, and how the customer base worked with us, they were brilliant.
“The digital workplace strategy we put in place from 2018/2019 from the hardware to the software side has come into its own as it means you can work from home. That flexible way of working will be adopted in the future I am sure, it’s more environmentally friendly and saves people from travelling. The use of tools like Teams, will become second nature to us. This new way or working will become the new normal to us. But there is always more you can do to get the optimum IT experience for people.
“In any emergency there are early starts, late nights and fast food, and the usual sort of thing where you get a great team spirit coming through. The various directorates, HR, the Estate teams, have really helped, and our IT teams too and their managers. The team motto was ‘Tough times don’t last, but tough people do’! It won’t go on forever and we will understand the new normal. We are planning our way out of this as we speak. Everybody responds to knowing this won’t last forever.”
Listen to the full podcast on Soundcloud here.
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