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Working together through COVID-19

As we all adjust to the reality of COVID-19, our thoughts are with the people affected and the key workers busy around the clock to help us all, and especially those most at need.

Working together is how we will get through this.

Employee and personal wellbeing are clearly the key focus for us all, but we also have to keep the business going.

How we are working

Our team of 300 (half of which are our service operation teams), were previously located at one of our four offices.

However, since Wednesday 18th March, we have been operating from an almost entirely home working model.

Apart from the amazing commitment from the whole team to make that work, we obviously needed to employ some technology to ensure that our systems, applications and collaboration tools performed seamlessly.

Our objectives were to ensure that the quality of our customer experience remained as good as before, and that employee interactions remained high.

There are four components to our solution:

  1. Communication: Ensuring the telephone system is configured for home working. We use UC Softphone clients on managed Acora devices and UC Mobile App on Acora and BYOD devices.
  2. Applications: Providing our teams with access to line of business applications (Payroll, ERP, HR etc). We use secure remote access to support end users and equipment in customer environments.
  3. Collaboration: Enabling our communities to collaborate – we use Office365, especially the power of Microsoft Teams as our default collaboration tool, bringing colleagues together and increasing the use of video to bring people together in a way a call can’t.
  4. Security and availability: Ensuring we have secure and flexible hardware available to everyone – we use Acora laptops, Acora mobiles, BYOD (home PC’s, laptops and mobiles), maintaining security using a variety of controls including Citrix Desktops, 2FA, Intune, Remote Control of Office PC’s and next generation Anti-Virus.

We set this up within 3 working days and whilst there was the odd hiccup we now have a community of 300, delivering uninterrupted BAU services, using an entirely new model.

Most recent operational update

An update from James Karp, COO of Acora Group, about how we are operationally managing through COVID-19, for our customers. 1st April.
Across the Acora group we continue to support our clients remotely and the operational delivery teams have risen to the challenge in a way that fills me with immense pride. We have seen unprecedented levels of requests from our customers to help them which we have been able to meet each and every time and […]
Read More

Previous update

An update from James Karp, COO of Acora about how we are operationally managing through COVID-19, 20th March.
Our continuing priority remains the welfare of our employees and our customers’ employees. Like all organisations, we are following the latest government health guidelines and are limiting travel and in-person meetings and across our UK wide IT operations businesses the entire team of Acora and Plan-Net professional service and support staff remain committed to meeting […]
Read More

What’s next?

We are looking at more collaboration tools, internal communications support, home security and performance tracking to further develop the capabilities and experience for both our employees and our customers.

How our team is responding

Our teams are now almost entirely home working. This model isn’t without its challenges and it takes some adjusting to. For example, children, pets and the physical location itself all take some getting used to – especially when online or on the phone with customers and employees.

We are all in the same boat in that we’re all figuring out a way to operate effectively. We also have our families, at risk neighbours and our community to think about. Yet in times like these, we often find ways to adapt and as we expected, our team have responded with creativity and enthusiasm.

Stephen Palmer

Stephen is one of our Infrastructure Analysts, normally based in our Solihull office, he has gone above and beyond to support his local community.

Stephen had the idea of buying essentials from wholesalers and delivering them to the elderly, vulnerable and NHS workers at cost price with free delivery.

In the first 8 days he has supported over 200 people in his local community!

After completing his day job he then spends 8 hours delivering round the local area.

Stephen says “I strongly believe it is my duty to look out for the local community. No one, including me, expected my simple acts of kindness to grow into something so large.

His key message is crucial “Please, please check on all of your elderly, vulnerable, NHS friends, family & neighbours.

In response, the local community has raised over £600 to help him help more people, and now a van has been donated to him by a local supporter.

For those interested in understanding more and to offer financial support you can reach him via his Facebook page.

Stephen, we salute you!

Sarah Barron and Julie May

We have our first known NHS volunteers. Sarah Barron, Service Operations, and Julie May, Payroll & Benefits. They are two great examples of Acora team members who have registered to be NHS volunteers.

Sarah said “I registered, as many others across the company have, to be a volunteer because I am able to get out in the evenings to deliver much needed food and medicines to the local at risk community.”

Julie continued “We owe so much to our key workers and this is my way of giving something back – it is only something small, but it all helps to pull us together.

We hope many others will take the opportunity to volunteer and work together to beat COVID-19.

Sarah and Julie, we salute you!

Rhiandeep Chatha

Rhiann is one of our marketing placement students on a year’s work experience at Acora, as part of her degree at the University of Sheffield. She is normally based at our London office and was living with her grandparents.

Rhiann returned to live with her Mum and sister in Barton and continues her placement remotely from there.

Ever since Rhiann can remember, she’s been helping her Mum run Taz’s Fish Bar, Barton’s popular fish and chip shop – and she has many fond memories of helping make mushy peas. Ironically, Rhiann’s Mum, Bal, is allergic to fish!

Sadly Taz’s has had to close for trading for the first time in 20 years.

In response, Rhiann’s Mum, Bal was straight on the phone to the Doctors Surgery and Eagle House, the local care home, to see if they could make good use of the left over stock.

As a result Rhiann, her Mum and sister managed to deliver an amazing 70 meals to happy Eagle House residents and NHS staff.

Rhiann summed it up by saying “I’ve grown up in this small town all my life so it felt great to give something back.”

Here’s the thank you card they received – https://www.facebook.com/TazsFishBar/

Rhiann and her Mum Bal, we salute you!

See our people in their new environment

To see how our people are managing, we thought we would share some photos of the Acora team in their new habitat:

Jo Douglas, Marketing, mixing work and fresh air
Jo Douglas, Marketing, mixing work and fresh air
Sarah Barron, Service Operations, sharing her extreme home working multi-tasking skills
Sarah Barron, Service Operations, sharing her extreme home working multi-tasking skills
Julie May, Payroll & Benefits, showing the new best way to use your living room table
Julie May, Payroll & Benefits, showing the new best way to use your living room table
Tanya Colville, HR, helping her cat through working from home
Tanya Colville, HR, helping her cat through working from home
Beth Crease, Marketing, explaining Teams to all new home users
Beth Crease, Marketing, explaining Teams to all new home users
Richard Dorgan, Marketing, is plaid in fashion these days?
Richard Dorgan, Marketing, is plaid in fashion these days?
Mark Summers, Technical Systems Engineer, proving 3 screens are better than 1
Mark Summers, Technical Systems Engineer, filling his desk with home working tech.
David Murphy, Enterprise Architect
David Murphy, Enterprise Architect, letting his wife focus on home learning the older ones
Helen Haynes, HR, taking a break from home working
Helen Haynes, HR, taking a break from home working
David Canvin, Service Desk Manager, making use of all possible space
David Canvin, Service Desk Manager, making use of all possible space
Nandita Mandal, Resourcing, utilising the front room for her home working challenge
Nandita Mandal, Resourcing, utilising the front room for her home working challenge
Tanya Bird, EA, are they both smiling?
Tanya Bird, EA, are they both smiling?
Shaq Thompson, Service Desk, so much equipment he couldn’t get himself in!
Shaq Thompson, Service Desk, so much equipment he couldn’t get himself in!
Dennis Daly, Service Delivery Manager, 4 screens are definitely better than 1
Dennis Daly, Service Delivery Manager, 4 screens are definitely better than 1
Juliana Majercikova, HR, WFH with support from Minnie Mouse
Juliana Majercikova, HR, WFH with support from Minnie Mouse
Alan Yin, Consultant, using home working time to grow his goatie.
Alan Yin, Consultant, using home working time to grow his goatie.

Wellbeing support for remote workers

This is a challenging and anxious time for all of us.

We truly care about all of our people, their families and even more at times like this, the wider community.

In the spirit of working together through COVID-19, we thought we would share some tools we have created and re-share others provided to us.

Tips

Here are some of the helpful materials provided to us by our strategic HR Partner, Stratton HR, we thought we would share them with you – we hope you find them useful:

From Gartner, some insights into new ways of working.

From Linkedin, some resources to aid remote working.

…and of course you should never ever ignore your mental health, see below some useful links to help:

Health & fitness

It’s important we keep active whilst working from home, so that when we do get back to work, we can fit into the same clothes!

So far, some of our team have been getting active with Joe Wicks, or why not try Heather Robertson.

Looking back to early March, the way we now work has changed considerably, and we know your operational needs will have changed too.

We have been responding rapidly to the urgent needs of our customers during this time, and we now have processes and tools in place to help.

Our experienced team can support your new challenges:

Working remotely
We can help you create seamless solutions for your remote working employees.

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Collaboration
We can help you transform your employee collaboration and productivity.

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Managed services
We can provide you with robust, flexible, high quality IT support solutions.

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If you have a specific question, challenge or problem you would like to talk to us about, feel free to reach out to us. We’re happy to help.

From our partners

Take a look at these useful thoughts and offers from our partners

Microsoft Teams
Supporting your remote working

6 month free trial

Find out more

Microsoft Power Apps
Crisis communication Power App

Free of charge

Find out more

Microsoft tips
How to remain productive when home working

 

Find out more

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