“March 23rd, a date I’ll never forget. The call came in, I have to close all my retail stores across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The overall feeling was of sadness. Being in stores was all I knew, for more years than I’d like to admit and I was so used to waking up in a hotel bed 2/3 times per week and being ‘out and about’, it was my true passion.
My first concern was to make sure my team was calm and feeling ok and then get my stores (over 200) locked in safely and all the stock moved to a central location. And that’s when the new normal started. As a company, and a team, we had one mission, to #KeeptheUKConnected and we soon adapted to new ways of working.
I’m proud to say we closed all our stores and successfully moved our huge task force to remote working! We sent out thousands of laptops to all individuals in our teams and quickly moved into weekly briefings via video. While stores were closed, we trained individuals on Webchat so they were able to continue to support customers and safely work from home.
Since we closed the retail stores, I think we’ve have done a phenomenal job looking after our customers, and importantly, we have all learned a new skill; online support is something we may keep doing in our retail stores in the future!
What else went well? I think we’ve learned to communicate even better. We held mass briefings, we collected surveys, we spent more time than ever checking in with each other and making sure everyone was doing ok. We even had a couple in the team leave in lockdown to move to other departments so we had an online leaving party after work which included telling stories and reminiscing – it was lovely!
What didn’t go well? It was difficult for our employees with children so we had to work around that, for example, we found that a 7.30 am call didn’t work as that was the time the kids needed support, so we moved to 8.30 am. Simple changes like that removed a lot of pain for parents and carers. It was hard just heading to that chair in the home office each morning and knowing I’d be sat in front of a screen or on the phone all day, motivation has been a real struggle. However, we got there by checking in on each other more and for me walking more, I now do well over 10k steps per day by having a walk at lunchtime and then after work!
We’ve learned to talk more, to take regular breaks, to not work into the night-unless we were dealing with any last-minute changes and to communicate better. Vodafone has been superb in finding all the team worthwhile work, helping with our wellness, supporting colleagues that needed help and I feel sure we will come out of this situation stronger and looking at things in a different way
Where are we now? Some of our stores are open and I’m so excited to say that! We’ve made sure our stores are as safe as possible for both customers and colleagues, we’ve completed health and safety checks and we’ve trained our staff on new ways of working with social distancing in place!
It’s been a real journey but I’m proud to work for Vodafone, now more so than ever.”
For more information on our stores re-opening, head over to our Newscentre page.