COVID-19 Team Blog: Sam Nicholson
04 May 2020
3 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 second in the series from our Head of Insurance Services, Sam Nicholson.
How times have changed
“Who would have thought two months ago that most of us would be working from home? Times have most certainly changed and we are changing with it. We are content to queue to get into supermarkets, go for daily walks and smile at one another and say hello, whilst adhering to social distancing! Our daily commute is down the stairs or not even that for some of us…
Within days we moved our 24/7 FNOL centre to remote working; no easy task given the technical and time constraints. Fortunately, we worked with our Business Continuity Planning Team and IT department early in the crisis to source chrome books and headsets and now most of our First Response Unit and claims teams are remote working. Within the space of a week, we had moved from an open plan contact centre, with all the support this provides, to working from our own homes.
Clearly staffing has been a major consideration. How many teams would we need to meet customer demand? What additional help could we provide to our clients and customers? How do we support our own people? It’s been a learning curve for us all, but I think we have all settled into our new routines now. As our clients reduced their opening hours, we have taken on the additional calls ensuring we are here to help our customers when they need us.
In the early days of lockdown we saw a big reduction in demand as most vehicles stayed off the road. As the weeks have passed, we have seen a gradual increase which levelled off. Now we are starting to see early signs of growth. We need to keep a close eye on demand to ensure we can meet customers’ needs as more people venture out.
Our teams have been brilliant, so flexible and resilient. Changing their shifts at short notice, helping us to navigate resourcing requirements, supporting one another. If someone finds a solution to an issue they make sure they share across the whole team. There have been quizzes and competitions to keep the spirits up making sure everyone stayed engaged and no one feels too isolated. We have some very interesting home offices and work uniforms!
For us it is business as usual and we continue to have our regular team meetings. Our team leaders are checking in on individuals with regular 1-2-1s, with the only difference these days being that it is not always face to face. Technology has certainly helped, and we are all now proficient in the working of Teams, a great tool but not that flattering on video calls!
People talk about this being the ‘new normal’ and I think it has opened a lot of eyes as to what can be achieved by remote working and how easily people have adapted, but we need to remember that not everyone has company at home and it can be isolating. Looking to the future, there must be a way of finding a balance that suits everyone.
From a business perspective it makes no sense to go back completely to the way we worked before., whenever the restrictions start to be eased. We need to review the benefits of remote working – how we schedule shifts and whether remote working makes splits shifts much easier and provides flexibility to our people, helping them find that work/life balance we are all after. As an industry it will be interesting to see if more clients move to support remote working now that we have proven it can be done.
Once we eventually come out of the current crisis, the trend towards greater remote working, only made possible using improved technology, is likely to be one of the few beneficial legacies of the coronavirus."
About the author
Sam Nicholson, Head of Insurance Services
Sam is ACII qualified and joined Carpenters Group in 2016 as Head of Insurance Services, bringing over 25 years of Insurance experience gained at General Accident, Norwich Union and Aviva. Sam has worked at both a technical and operational level across her career specialising in Claims. She has worked in a senior operational capacity for 15+ years and sits on the Groups Operations Board.