Insights

Nicole Dyer: 5 minute read

Supporting our colleagues during the Coronavirus outbreak

Covid-19 arrived on our shores this year to fundamentally alter the way in which we live. As a global society, we have been required to adapt our lives in order to give frontline practitioners the best possible chance to beat this virus. By staying home we can protect those who are most vulnerable and ensure that resources are utilised where they need to be. To aid in this endeavour, we have moved work into the home where possible and as an organisation, we have adapted.

Working remotely

We are what we sell. Across OLM we provide products that are native to the Cloud and therefore have been employing digital and remote working methods across the organisation for several years. We expanded the ability to work from home to all of our team in the middle of last month and are pleased to say that everyone has adapted well. 

We are extremely proud of the way our fellow OLM colleagues have quickly adapted to working during an unprecedented situation. Colleagues are up and running across the United Kingdom, with teams quickly implementing systems and routines of working that enable work to be completed as before. 

The increased use of video conferencing services across the organisation has placed extra demands on our IT support team but it is a challenge that I am pleased to say they have risen to. We are all working together to ensure that whilst social distancing has kept us apart, we still say hi to our colleagues and keep that undeniable OLM spirit strong. 

Our focus as always is to ensure that we are working effectively to support our clients during these troubled times. 

Cloud-based support

Video conferencing usage across the world has increased following on from the outbreak of Covid-19. OLM is no different in this sense, as we see the benefits of continuing forward with business as usual for our clients and maintaining strong links within teams. 

Mental health is one area that deserves particular attention with a truly virtual workforce. As much as Cloud-based technology and the ability to work from anywhere, at any time is a gift, we still need to maintain human connections. Seeing people in the office is something that we do miss as it helps strengthen the bonds within the team. Moving this completely online has been a challenge but through tools such as Slack, we have been able to maintain team bonds.

The instant messaging platform helps to organise conversations and maintain a sense of community whilst at work. We’ve created channels to share pictures of our pets who are keeping us company at this time, jokes to lighten the mood and general tips on looking after children and also ensuring focus on the tasks at hand.

Regular communication through established channels has been key. Slack has been great for maintaining the spirit of OLM and has been accompanied by regular email updates from the senior management team, as well as company-wide Town Halls. Our Chief Executive, Peter O’Hara, wanted the opportunity to speak with everyone following the change in working practices and through use of Zoom Video Conferencing, he was able to do so, re-assuring everyone that our current focus is on our customers and not the bottom line. 

All of these communication channels have helped everyone settle into a routine, maintaining focus and productivity during the current crisis. OLM has been operating for nearly 30 years, founded by Peter O’Hara to make a difference to the lives of everyone involved in health and social care and we are still here today, pushing forward with the vision. We may be working from home but this has not damaged that OLM spirit and desire that was created all those years ago.  

The words supportive, kind, sharing and committed come to mind when I think of OLM. For me personally, I joined OLM only six weeks ago, but have already seen that family mindset in operation everywhere I look. I feel blessed to still feel that connection to my new OLM family as I adapt to working remotely.

OLM takes care of those who work across the Group and has offered everyone access to flexible working hours during this time. We have encouraged flexible working patterns to allow people to work around other commitments, which are largely childcare related, but also allow our socially-minded team to look after their community through volunteering efforts.

Supporting the community

Social awareness is very evident at this time as we hear reports of colleagues helping their local community, assisting their neighbours and volunteering in many ways to help family, friends and complete strangers through this difficult time. It’s been humbling to see, with many of our OLMers signing up to the NHS volunteer scheme and others using their development skills to offer assistance by building solutions for:

  • An online store for not for profit organisations that supply food to low-income families
  • Three of our team have even been using their 3d printing skills and equipment to create face shields to send to their local hospitals to help combat the massive shortage in PPE in the country.

In addition to using existing skills, a member of our team is taking part in an international research project looking at if physiological data can predict the symptoms of the coronavirus. Other OLMers are supporting vulnerable, sick and lonely people in their street through conversation and collecting medication and shopping. Guitars have also been seen across Slack, being dusted off to entertain streets as the lockdown continues.

This is a time in which we are seeing people shine in the face of adversity - a new level of community spirit can be felt far and wide and it's great to see. I am proud to have joined a company with such a generous spirit. 

Isolation support 

As much as we are proud to support those who are reaching out to their communities, we need to acknowledge those who have been required to self-isolate. Protecting communities and loved ones through self-isolation is never easy and as an organisation, we have supported anyone who has been required to do so. Health is more important than anything. 

Anyone who has been required to self-isolate has been fully supported with our usual generous allowance for sick pay to ensure continued financial support. There is enough to worry about right now without financial fear being added to the mix. By ensuring that flexible support is provided across the organisation, we can make sure that all those we work for are placed first in our minds. 

To conclude

The United Kingdom has always pulled together in tough times and there has already been a fantastic community response to supporting the coronavirus effort. We are extremely proud that we have been able to support the frontline through our technology but also that our staff have shown such social diligence, helping those who are vulnerable.

I started at OLM only a few weeks ago but have already seen such a caring team that I know we will get through this current crisis. It’s humbling to work for an organisation who places health and support over profit. Seeing all of the stories as they have been shared brightens my spirit and that of those around me. To see such a positive outreach at a time of strife is something that focuses the mind as I know that I am working for an organisation who is making a difference.

We have all had to adapt to new ways of working and whilst we look forward to the day when the virus is under control and we can resume our normal lives, I know that OLM will be here to support. Whether that is virtually or in person. We are able to support our team in the best manner possible, to give back and help in any way we can.