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Adapting to the new reality

08 Apr 2020

Vinod Kumar

CEO, Vodafone Business

The spread of COVID-19 is having a huge impact on our day-to-day lives, changing the way we socialise and work.

Limiting the spread of infection, protecting those most vulnerable and maintaining quality of service in our networks is the top of our agenda. But with so many working from home for the first time, especially at this scale, many organisations are looking at how to support their employees to get the best out of remote working.

Inspiring your teams

Working from home is not always easy and not everyone enjoys it. But that’s the reality in which many office workers find themselves during this global pandemic, as well as often juggling home schooling with home-working and at a time of heightened anxiety around the virus.

I firmly believe good and open communication is key. By staying connected to each other, we can keep up morale and encourage teams to work together.

That’s why I’ve upped my informal webinars to a weekly basis. It’s a chance for me to share business updates with everyone, but most importantly, it gives people the opportunity to ask questions, share concerns, or even ideas on what we can do better.

Some of the services we’re now providing to customers to support with COVID-19 were suggested during these discussions.

We’ve also been encouraging senior managers to do the same on a daily basis. Anything from morning chats to virtual coffees – these interactions make all the difference.

This runs alongside the formal global and local taskforces who are communicating guidelines and monitoring developments as they unfold.

Managing capacity demands

We have already seen data traffic increase by 50% in some markets as people work from home at the same time. And we’ve helped more than three million employees of our customers to work from home for the first time.

Then there are all the school children taking online classes that have sprung up in the past couple of weeks, the online fitness classes, virtual pub quizzes and drinks with friends. It’s inspiring to see such innovation, as people and their businesses adapt to the new reality.

To adapt to this demand and maintain the quality of service, our technology teams in Europe have been working hard to expand the capacity across our networks as needed.

Employees also have the option of tethering from their work mobile phones if this offers a better quality connection.

Regular contact with critical suppliers has been important here, giving us full transparency on the current state of the supply chains and all contingency plans, should things change.

Thinking as a member of the global community as well as a business, we are working with governments to request immediate access to physical sites and to manage and prioritise traffic so that important services can stay running.

For example, we’re offering hospitals additional network capacity and are prioritising emergency calls, with all calls to helplines and websites available free of charge in most markets.

Using the right equipment

Another important aspect is providing the right equipment for people to safely work from home.

Flexible working is part of the Vodafone culture and employees are given laptops and mobile phones as standard when they join, along with keyboards and laptop stands.  However, many of our customers have not worked remotely at this scale before and have looked to us for support.

Like many organisations, we’ve been updating our guidelines on home-working, sharing tips on everything from how your home workspace could be set up to advice on taking regular breaks and exercises you can do in the home.

We also have webinars available for employees to train them on using different types of equipment and communities on hand to offer advice on smart working.

Everybody’s situation is different, so we have tried to be mindful of that.

Offering flexible working hours, especially for those home schooling their children, has meant one less thing for people to worry about.  

All of this is crucial to support the wellbeing of our employees at a time like this.

We’ve put together some guidance on how to keep your business going during COVID-19, that we hope you find useful.

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