As the Manager of our Support Desk Team, Duncan’s first priority when COVID-19 appeared was to get the team ready to work remotely. Unlike the popular IT stereotype of insular, reclusive nerds, the Altus Support team are actually a sociable bunch accustomed to resolving issues by walking around the office and talking. Working from Home therefore presented more of a test than you might expect. The first challenge was logistical but, working closely with the IT Services team, Duncan got everyone set up and ready to go with headphones, microphones and home office equipment in days.
The bigger challenge was cultural; ensuring communication with and across the team continued to flow freely. He immediately introduced daily video calls for the whole team which, while brief, allow anyone to raise issues, be they work related or just coping with the changes. The team all agreed early on that any time they would normally speak to someone in the office, they would call instead. They also make a point of telling each other (via their status in Teams) when they are on a call with a customer or popping out for lunch, so all can appreciate when others are busy. Duncan has a very close-knit team and, if someone has an issue, they know they can raise it. And by having regular calls with everyone just to check in, Duncan makes sure that no one feels isolated and helpless. And a quick call is so much more personable and friendly!
Teamwork doesn’t stop there when the involvement of the Development team is required to solve a customer query. Customers continue to raise tickets in the usual way and the established support process kicks in. Support and Development teams work together so that each ticket is managed effectively. And the support process ensures that everyone working on them has the full picture. Duncan and the team have tested their ability to support customers remotely on a regular basis, so as far as the customer can see, it’s all BAU. In the past couple of weeks, the teams have also worked together to deliver important upgrades to our Altus Transfer Gateway and Altus Pensions Gateway.
However, working remotely doesn’t come without its challenges. Duncan is facing the daunting task of balancing home-schooling requirements and general family life with work. When there’s a lack of desk space or study in the house, it is hard to avoid kids making guest appearances on Teams calls. Duncan has already become our very own Robert Kelly. Some of the perks of Altus office life are making themselves felt too; Duncan is finding it a lot less satisfying to eat fruits that he buys from the supermarket himself; and he is understandably outraged at the lack of fancy coffee in his house.
Remote Working has taught Duncan some valuable lessons not least that managing multiple communication channels can be daunting! While Teams has proved a great tool for internal meetings, customer demos and implementation workshops, it is less well suited to the specific nature of support calls. And a phone system that can be used from anywhere is essential to manage support calls with customers.
Nonetheless, these difficulties pale into insignificance when Duncan sees his team forging ahead, coping with whatever is thrown at them and working together to make sure clients get the support they need. That is what Duncan is most proud of!
If you would like more information, or would like to talk to Duncan about any of the points raised in this article, please get in touch with a member of our Press Office team.