We caught up with Stores Lead (AO2) Mark Sweetmore, to ask him how he’s adapted to working from home, but also how he believes the business has performed in supporting himself and the workforce to working from home.
How have you had to adapt in order to work remotely?
Its been a complete change, to be honest – it feels very strange not having regular, in person, face to face contact with your team. My whole career background is in our stores, and because of this every role has been about how you interact with customers, peers, leaders, and reports to make sure we are enabling everybody to be at their best – having that kind of interaction whipped away has meant we have all had to adapt really quickly. My current role is based on project work, and supporting different‘squads’ of people as we build the future of O2… we have had to quickly adapt from sitting around a table and getting stuff done to working totally remotely. The first couple of weeks felt a bit uncomfortable (you’ve probably seen stuff like conference call bingo online – ‘someone isn’t on mute’; ‘can everyone see my screen?’; ‘can we take this offline?’ etc, and for a while, this was certainly the case!) but actually, we have settled into a real rhythm now that works for us. We also work with colleagues regularly in Spain, Argentina, Russia, and India – it’s been really insightful to have the experience they do on calls all of the time, and certainly made me more aware of the challenges people who always remote work have. There are certain things I have found that really help… still having a regular routine including wake up time, breakfast, getting changed into more ‘normal’ clothes, setting aside time for breaks and lunch, etc all make sure that there is a clear distinction between my home life and my working from home life… I’m lucky to have a room that we have converted into a home office so I can close the door at the end of the day and know my working day is done.
How do you feel O2 has done as a business to support your transition to working from home?
In all honesty, I think we have done brilliantly with this one in unprecedented (I did well not to say that word until now) times. Don’t get me wrong, we had a head start in some ways because we had already invested in facilities like Workplace, Office 365, Teams, 322, etc – and connectivity is what we do so a lot of the infrastructure was there. With that in mind, it’s still been inspiring to see how the tech teams have quickly supported people who don’t normally work from home at all in being able to get set up, log in and do their roles remotely so that the needs of our customers can still be met. We have stores teams supporting in different aspects of customer service, as well as being involved in different projects within the business, so actually the tech guys have enabled us to meet customer requirements, upskill our teams, and also utilise the massive breadth of skills our store’s teams have to add real value to areas of the business they may not otherwise have had the chance to… that is one of the real positives that I think we will take out of this situation. Aside from the techy stuff, it’s been brilliant to see that O2 has kept our people focus throughout this time…whether its weekly live conversations with the CEO, ‘how are you feeling’ temperature checks to all teams, pub quizzes within individual teams, or our new initiative of ‘mystery catch up’ where you can register to have a video chat with somebody from a different department that you have an interest in, we have done really well at making sure that our teams all feel supported, productive, and part of the joint effort to get through this situation. Anything the business is doing doesn’t feel ‘forced’ or ‘tickbox’, there is a genuine desire to support our people, and I think that this attitude will mean we come out on the other side as an even stronger, even more collective, business than we were before.