COVID-19 Team Blog: Karen Campbell

09 June 2020

4 minutes to read.

We’re proud of what our teams are achieving at Carpenters during the coronavirus pandemic. Written by colleagues across multiple divisions of the company, they hopefully provide a small insight into our continuing working practices and values as we all adjust to our new world.

Here is the eighth in the series from Chief Information Officer, Karen Campbell. 

Business continuity put to the test

"Business continuity plans tend not to conceive of a full shutdown, nearly simultaneously, of all offices nationally – and almost internationally – in the face of a global pandemic. They certainly will from now on. The national lockdown across the UK certainly tested what we at Carpenters had in place, but we were able to utilise previously tested controls to put in place measures and communication steps in the early phases of the lockdown. Our ability to quickly adapt, and a flexible approach, helped support the home working model without too many issues.

The skills we have within the Technical Services Team have really come into play during the Covid-19 crisis. Having delivered some really high-quality large-scale infrastructure projects over the past 4-5 years to tight timescales, our experience has been invaluable this time round when the stakes were suddenly raised even higher. Some of the essential qualities that made the difference were excellent communication between team members, a pragmatic approach to problem solving and a willingness to work round the clock to ensure we got everyone we could into isolation and operational as fast as possible.

We consider the results to have been an unqualified success, as our IT teams are all still operating from home, and we’re in the process of converting the short term changes we’ve made over the past nine weeks into long term benefits for our entire organisation. As worrying and upsetting as the situation in the world is, we have a little guiltily, but genuinely, loved every minute of the work we have done to help sort it all out and maybe one day figure out a new normal. Thankfully we had prepared well and were able to give over all our time to help everyone who needed it.

Our Dev Teams took to working from home like ducks to water. We are having regular morning discussions with the teams, who have remained focused and committed throughout it all. There has been a notable increase in cross-functional interaction. There have been a few issues and difficulties with colleagues missing the face-to-face interactions through poor internet connectivity and so we are trying our best to utilise the technology available. There has been an increase in communications with third party providers, where email is no longer the primary method but Microsoft Teams! This means that we can get real-time feedback and manage expectations on delivery.

Whilst there have been several mountains to climb technically, all the team know how they can connect to each other and are happy to use the tools that we provide them. Whilst not necessarily a challenge, it does require a conscious choice to reach out using collaboration tools. Once everyone was on board, the collaboration tools seem to have been fully embraced and everyone has now settled into using them.

Finally, we have striven for sustainability. Where possible, we wanted to do something during this period that could have lasting positive influence on how Carpenters functions as a business. We expect to be in a position, once the lockdown restrictions begin to ease further, that we can provide more flexible working patterns to staff members, whilst enhancing our network security and refreshing our server hardware to bring our home working systems right up to date. The last few weeks haven’t always been easy, but I’m proud of how the team has pulled together in successfully implementing our plans, ensuring that our clients and customers continue to receive the first-class service they expect from Carpenters."

About the author 

Karen Campbell, Chief Information Officer

Karen joined Carpenters Group in 2003 as IT Manager and has created a dynamic and forward-thinking IT team to deliver the systems and technical expertise to enable Carpenters to meet and exceed their growth plans. As Chief Information Officer, Karen oversees a large team who are responsible for achieving and surpassing the IT requirements of both internal and external stakeholders. As a member of the Executive Board Karen ensures that an innovative and robust IT strategy is implemented to support the firm, clients and staff.