26th March

We are now a week on from the first post about the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is safe to say that over no 7-day period in the last 75 years have more restrictions, limitations or changes been made to everyday life in the UK.

Last week the advice was tentative. It was ambiguous and there was a choice given by the government. On Monday evening, in Boris Johnson’s address to the British people, the advice was definitive and immediate.

NSL, like most non-retail businesses, have now been operating remotely for over a week. The first few days were not easy – trying to get laptops to perform in the same way as a desktop computer with three screens is difficult – but once the initial teething issues were worked out we have been able to continue as before.

Our support team who normally sit 6 feet from each other have been communicating over instant messenger and advising each other who is picking up what and when. The biggest testament to their continuity and efforts is that they have logged more support calls and made more amendments to customer accounts and services than at any other point in our history. We’ve currently doubled the case load from last March and the demand doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Our team are in relatively good spirit, considering the news. Every morning we have a video conference call at 09:30 to check in with the whole team. It is not the same as meeting in the same room, but it does feel like you are showing your face and saying hello in the same way. There’s something more personal about it. 8×8 is holding up well, but if a lot of people are trying to talk via video conference you are dependent on the quality of the individual broadband speeds. I have had to buy a signal booster in order for my wifi to reach my office (shed) but that’s mainly because I have two young children that seem to be in every corner of the house at all times. Sometimes the connection is a little weak on my laptop, so I have decided to take the calls on my phone over 4G which seems to be a little more stable in the shed.

I have spent the last two years working two days a week from home, so I may be a little more used to the separation from the routine and banter than some, but I have noticed that it is very hard to escape the news, and there is a great deal of anxiety around. I imagine for some an office environment acts as a pressure valve release and offers them a change of scenery. I suppose what I am trying to say is – extended periods of isolation might not be the best for everyone. For me it works, but it might be a consideration for some businesses/members of staff.

I realise this might be sounding a little too much like an advert for a product – I really don’t mean it to. Clearly as a partner of 8×8 it is in our interest to demonstrate that it works, but I thought a first-hand account of how we have utilised it might be useful to those thinking of deploying a similar cloud-based solution. My hope is that for those reading the post around the time it is written, it provides a very small amount of escapism; and for those reading retrospectively it demonstrates that NSL are not only selling a product – we have used it, in incredibly stressful times and, hopefully, it has done the things we said it would.