The Q2Q IT team took the decision to move to a remote working set-up a week prior to lockdown, the rationale being that we needed to ensure we could cope – and to put ourselves in the soon-to-be shoes of our customers.

By experiencing everything, we anticipated what our clients were likely to encounter – from creating a comfortable workspace to dealing with Wi-Fi headaches – and it has allowed us to see things from their perspective.

We gave ourselves five days to get the entire team up-and-running with the necessary hardware, switch the telephone system to be able to answer and transfer calls ‘internally’, as well as access third-party information and systems as we would if we were in the office.

IT support while working from home

Of course, we had expected to receive requests about switching to a home working set-up when rumblings of a potential lockdown first surfaced. And, on the very first day of our trial, we started to receive appeals from customers who wanted to start the process too.

Therefore, and despite our best intentions, we ended up finalising our own processes around working from home in tandem with a handful of customers!

It was quite a challenge, but the entire team came into their own and we ended the first week fully functional and prepared for the coming months of madness, when the Government announced the nationwide lockdown just a few days later.

We had established a remote working infrastructure for most of our customers within the first  week – and also managed the procurement and set-up of new laptops for those that didn’t have them, which in itself was a challenge as the world had seemingly sold out of laptops! It was a supreme effort from all the team, and one which I am extremely proud of!

Keeping the business running while remote working

Whatever industry you’re in – it’s important to keep the conversation flowing as it would if you were in the office. We have meetings via Microsoft Teams several times a day, in order to catch up on key customer issues, share insights and maintain morale.

We have learnt a lot in the first few weeks, some insights which I thought I would share with you:

  • Working from home will bring with it entirely new organisational challenges – and not everyone has a strong grasp of IT. Be patient with colleagues who aren’t as tech-savvy as you, develop new ways to explain how things work, while steering clear of any jargon.
  • Wi-Fi can create all kinds of problems – and arguments – at home. So always be prepared with cables just in case.
  • As people work from different locations, it’s difficult to see what anyone is doing at any one time – are they on the phone, eating lunch, trying to pacify a young child? So, keeping in touch via messaging tools such as MS Teams can help people be aware of others’ status – particularly if an urgent request comes in.
  • Not being able to shout across the office to ask a team member’s opinion can make you feel uncertain of your next move – but take the time to research answers for yourself – and check in with a superior if you really need that validation.
  • Don’t let customers feel as though you’ve forgotten about them, simply because you’re away from your desk. Put more effort into scheduling a time to catch up via a video chat, or book in a call to work through an issue.
  • Team meetings are valuable for maintaining the social interaction you’re all used to – a morning huddle or ‘five thirsty’ drink together will keep the mood high and motivate the masses.
  • Structuring your day – and getting dressed – is vital!

Other practical hacks we’ve discovered, which are less about IT and more about ‘survival’, include:

  • Let the dog out before talking to a customer, the barking is very distracting!
  • Don’t eat all the biscuits at once!
  • When your toddler poops, politely end your call – before it gets messy!
  • We’ll never criticise Damien’s singing again – we miss your office ‘bangers’.
  • Giving your shaggy dog a haircut is actually a lot easier than you’d think!

We will get through this

As the nation gets into the groove of remote working, things are a little quieter at Q2Q, mainly as our customers have the tech infrastructure they need and are functioning well.

Although we haven’t furloughed any of our own team so far, several of our clients have – which inevitably means there are less users to look after from an account management point of view. As such, we’re using this additional time to do some work in the background and further improve our automated services, which will benefit customers in the future.

Looking even further ahead, we are aware that things will be tough when people do start to go back into the office – and the entire process will need to be repeated. Therefore, we want to be fully staffed and ready to support whatever our clients need.

As if that wasn’t enough, we’re also in the process of onboarding two new customers whose employees are working remotely, so we need ‘all hands on deck’ to pull this off!

If you’ve not had the best IT experience during the Coronavirus pandemic, we’d be happy to speak to you about how we might be able to help keep the disruption to a minimum, so get in touch here.

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    Technical IT Support illustration at Q2Q HQ Lancaster, Lancashire and the North West