Lockdown and Beyond!

Having been a Loss Adjuster for over 40 years, I thought I’d pretty much seen and experienced it all.  That was until the Covid-19 pandemic struck and it’s fair to say that the past few weeks have been some of the most challenging that I can remember.

While QuestGates has built its operating platform to enable secure remote access and for a significant percentage of our team, working from home is the norm, shifting our entire workforce to be home-based over an incredibly short space of time certainly put our IT team up against it.  Their effort was nothing short of heroic and they’ve become our most treasured asset!

Of course, working from home does present its challenges but I’ve been genuinely impressed with how quickly our teams have adapted to Zoom calls and Team meets.  Technology has undoubtedly made this new ‘norm’ far easier to manage than had we faced a similar situation several years ago, but we’re acutely aware that people miss interacting with their team-mates in person over a coffee or in a training session.  Working from home can be lonely and we’re hugely conscious of the impact it can have on their mental health.

Communication has been even more important than ever over the past few weeks and we’ve made huge efforts to stay in close contact with our people to keep them informed on how the business is doing, feedback from our clients and – most importantly – involve them in our decision making process when it comes to working practices both in the current lockdown and as it gradually eases.

There’s no doubt that people are worried about the prospect of having to travel – especially on public transport.  Many are shielding vulnerable family members at home and are fearful of inadvertently exposing them to the virus.  We wanted to empower our people to make the right decision for them individually and also to ensure that as a business, we do our part in protecting the NHS from being overwhelmed by a second spike so we put the question to our teams around the country – did they want to return to the office, if safe to do so, or to continue to work from home.

It wasn’t surprising that almost 90% would prefer to continue working from home even when lockdown is relaxed and only a quarter would prefer to be office-based when the crisis is actually over.  But it was also interesting to hear that those who previously were opposed to working from home have now found that they can be just as productive, whilst those who were used to it have admitted to miss seeing their work colleagues whether socialising or discussing a case.

The bottom line is that people like being part of a team and so we’re going to have to develop a solution that provides our teams with the flexibility to mix it up a little.  This is going to take some thought on our part as clearly we have to ensure that any long-term change to working practice does not have any negative impact on our clients and their customers.  However, given the feedback that I received from our teams that they just want to play their part to ensure that our business moves forward, I am confident that we’ll find a way to make it work.