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‘Working from home’ or ‘living at the office’? Jacob’s top tips for working effectively during lockdown

Jacob Osborne, Esme’s Customer Services Manager, shares his top tips to help you work effectively during the UK’s lockdown.
‘Working from home’ or ‘living at the office’? Jacob’s top tips for working effectively during lockdown

Jacob Osborne has been Esme’s Customer Services Manager for just under 2 years. He manages a team of 12 employees who manage all new applications, as well as help existing customers with queries relating to current loans and further finance. Jacob’s primary focus is to ensure small business owners have a great experience throughout - from the day an application is made with Esme, right through when the customer settles their loan.

My ‘living at the office’ lockdown experience

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This is my second year of being a Customer Services manager here at Esme, and the last few months have been a huge learning curve for us all as we have adapted to the current climate. Working from home is something brand new to myself, as my career background to date has been in a customer-facing environment where the standard practice, as for many, is to be in the office between the hours of 9am and 5pm.

Now, roughly 3 months since we were told to work from home for the immediate future, I have found myself in a completely foreign situation - managing a customer-facing team with no face-to-face contact, managing workloads through Instant Messaging, and bi-daily check-ins to ensure everyone is up to speed with the latest updates.

It’s a brand-new challenge that everyone has had to find their own way of adapting to, ensuring the previous standards are upheld so customers are not impacted by our new way of working.

In recent weeks, instead of terming the experience ‘working from home’, I have found the best way to describe my day-to-day as ‘living at the office’.

So, here are some tips on how I am dealing with ‘living at the office’, by managing a customer-facing team, maintaining my physical and mental wellbeing, and trying to make sure I don’t spend 8 hours on back-to-back Zoom calls every day! I hope by sharing them with you, that you might be able to better navigate our new ‘living at the office’ lifestyles.

Communicating often but efficiently

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Staying in touch with my team has been crucial, especially during this unsettling period. Whether being through a scheduled 1-2-1 monthly catch up with members of my team, or simply taking a break from work and checking in on how they have been and what their plans are for the weekend – these conversations have been very important to keeping the team both motivated and informed, as well as serving as an opportunity to make sure personally they are doing ok!

Whilst these touch points are very important, I have had to ensure these calls have been as efficient as possible as the team are customer facing. We have a team ‘huddle’ every other morning that lasts 15 minutes, keeping the calls on track and informative so the team can go back to being available for any customer queries coming through over the phone.

Restrict the Zooms!

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This is something I have struggled with and continue to do so, with numerous recurring Zoom ‘huddles’ blocking out my calendar every day. So much so, some days I find myself at 5pm with a mountain of emails to work through. I have learnt the hard way in failing to respond to, or even missing emails due to having so many calls.

If this does resonate with you, my manager Lucy did come up with a good suggestion for us all to have a #ZoomBlackout where we have a few hours in the day where no Zoom calls can take place. Taking regular breaks so that I can work more effectively throughout the rest of the day is something I will definitely be putting into practice over the coming weeks!

Stay social

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Having social interactions has been vital to the upkeep of my mental wellbeing throughout this period. Whether it’s a quick 5 minute catch up call with our Head Broker manager, Shyam, or the Operations Manager, Jess calling me for a good 60 minute chat after work to give each other inspiration about what to have for dinner, both are equally as important to me in having some sort of normality! (Chats with Jess are usually longer, mind!).

We all enjoy social interaction and unfortunately the current environment has restricted our ability to do this freely, but we must be proactive in staying connected with each other.

I’ve found that a great way to help both mental and physical wellbeing, has been to organise a weekly company-wide team work out. This has had great support from everyone, including Richard, (our CEO) joining every week whilst members of the team take it in turns to run the session!

It has now turned into ‘who can create the hardest workout’, which has not only resulted in some healthy competition in the team, but also some excellent sessions that have brought everyone together socially (albeit, by another Z*** call), and helped keep us all fit and healthy! Something I hope we can continue once we have the option of returning to the office.

Give yourself a structure

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A structure to manage both my workload and my day-to-day activities has really helped me stay on top of my work, as well as kept me sane. Before I ‘properly start’ every day I have ‘the 8.45am call’ with our Ops Management team, providing updates on projects we manage, as well as finding out what Jess managed to decide to have for dinner the evening prior.

This helps set me up in prioritising work for that day and allows me to identify any updates that need to be communicated to my team before customers start getting in touch.

One part of my structure is to treat myself with a trip to the local coffee shop every Friday morning – something you may want to try to mix things up a bit. It gives me something to look forward to every week and I do find myself getting comments about how much happier I seem every Friday morning, so it’s definitely worth a try if you have a coffee shop local to you!

‘Living at the office’ will be different for absolutely everyone, but I hope these tips from my own experiences might help you with yours.

Stay safe everyone!

Jacob Osborne

 

Please note, the nature of this article is speculative. We cannot guarantee that the scenarios, opinions and experiences described within will be true for everyone.

How could Esme help?

These are difficult times for many businesses, so it’s important now more than ever, to take good care of yourself and your team. If you’re concerned about your business being impacted financially due to coronavirus, visit our advice page for information about how we may be able to support you.