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Remote Working, Managing a Team and Life as a Mum: A 5-Day Blog


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Role: Service Delivery Manager, Cetus Solutions

Day 1 – And so it begins..

Today has been strange but positive. We are in the initial stages of remote working and we are working hard to ensure sure the rest of the teams can work effectively from home. There is a lot of uncertainty around “what happens if…” – which naturally is difficult to answer.

Part of my plan for the Service Desk is to hold daily calls with those working remotely. We’ve decided that Microsoft Teams is the way forward for all our chats, calls and meetings – thankfully it’s easy to use, even for a non-techie like myself! We are having video calls – this feels bizarre. Despite us working with technology everyday it’s surprising to see just how uncomfortable we all are seeing ourselves on video. Personally, I have found myself sitting up, breathing in, doing my hair and cringing (a lot!)

Day one done and dusted, a productive day = happy teams!

Day 2 – Toes in the water  

We’ve had a good day today. The team have been busy working on our own internal plan to iron out any issues and ensuring readiness for our full remote working policy that will be rolled out in a few days.

We’ve also been working flat out with requests from clients urgently needing to get their solutions up and running. Everyone I have spoken to seems to be in the same boat – frantic, chaotic and still can’t quite take in what’s happening, but things still seem to be upbeat. It has been uplifting to speak to people who are still managing to have a little chuckle, along with a few “the world’s gone mad” remarks before getting down to business. There is a strong sense of us all being in this together.

Day 3 – In for a penny, in for a pound

The office was eerily quiet today, most people who can do so are now working from home. As you can imagine this is causing plenty of issues for the Service Desk. We use Citrix here at Cetus, our tech teams have laptops but for everyone else thin clients connecting to the Citrix gateway is standard stuff. There will be some changes to adjust to for those who are not used to working remotely.

 Most of the issues we are encountering are users trying to get used to working a little differently. It’s funny how something as simple as logging on in a slightly different way can really throw people – myself included. Not sure if this is exacerbated by the general feeling of panic we are seeing across the nation. There is pressure for us all to rapidly adjust to the change.

 The schools will close today, so I’m enjoying the calm before the storm, making the most of what will potentially be my last adult interaction for months (aside from the odd take-away delivery driver or cashier at the tills). Such a daunting thought!

Day 4 – And we’re off!

Today is the day, anyone who can and wants to work from home is doing so. We still have a small team working in the office who are practicing social distancing. It is a very strange feeling. Like most of the country I am trying to balance working full-time, keeping two children occupied while striving to maintain some form of normality.

I got up, showered, dressed, put some makeup on and opened the laptop ready to go. My first Teams video call was at 10.30am (hence the need for some makeup) whilst I have embraced the working from home movement, I don’t think the world is ready to see my “just got out of bed” look just yet.

Thankfully, everything worked seamlessly for me, logging in to our new Citrix VPN meant that I could work from home as I would if I was sat in the office – I even put Absolutely Radio on to get true office vibes. The only thing missing was the terrible jokes and banter. I never thought I’d say this but I miss those IT crowd jokes – a LOT.

Today’s calls were really productive and I felt like everyone was set up for the day, the afternoon calls were less productive, but I’m fine with that, it’s just nice to have the gang back together.

Day 5 – What now?

 After the announcement came through from Boris Johnson, 100% of the Cetus team are now working remotely, along with the rest of the country. We had a flurry of activity this morning, but most people were expecting it and had their plans firmly in place. Now the test really will begin. There is always the question of whether a service desk can be effective when working remotely.

Will they do their work? Will they be able to perform their jobs? Will calls be answered? How will they help each other? We’ve even had customers asking if we’ll still be answering calls and the answer is of course “yes.” We use soft phones for calls, Teams is open all day every day. In fact, I would say I’ve spoken to my team more since we’ve been working remotely.

Our afternoon calls have turned into more of a catch up with everyone, and we’ve realised just how important that human interaction is – we were all dreading the thought of video calls at the start and now we are really enjoying them. I’ve even had a few external video calls with clients that were very well received, everyone is in the same boat, working from home and there now seems to be a sense of acceptance of things.

Who knows how we’ll feel about it all when we’ve been doing this for a few weeks but for now it’s going well.

 

What I’ve learned 
-I sound horrendous on video calls (I am very northern!)
-I look horrendous on video calls 
-Headphones and curly hair are not a good match
-Humans thrive off interaction with other humans – Fact!
-Kids have a knack of being able to embarrass you at any given moment
-People find the above point highly amusing
-It really is good to talk 
-Getting up and getting dressed for work every day is important

How I’ve felt

-I’ve found it hard sometimes to not constantly know what’s going on, I usually hear everything in the office
-At times it has felt lonely – strange considering there are people in my house and just a video call away
-I still need someone to speak to and run my thoughts by, good and bad (make sure you still have a sounding board)
-I have found I am not in this alone, everyone I am speaking to is experiencing a wave of emotions and we’re all on this roller coaster together

Technology has been the critical factor in getting things to work in these challenging circumstances, I truly think without Teams and Citrix we would have struggled massively, not just with performing our own work as a company but also to support our clients which is, of course, our highest priority during this uncertain time!

Credit: Service Delivery Manager, Cetus Solutions

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