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Fareham: Onecom moves seamlessly to remote working

By Dan Teuton
15 April 2020

An army of technical and operations staff at Onecom, the UK’s largest independent business telecommunications provider, have been working around the clock to enable remote working for hundreds of its own staff and thousands of employees at businesses across Hampshire and the UK.

Although each day that staff are unable to work from home represents a potential loss for some Hampshire businesses, a recent survey published just weeks before social distancing came into effect found that nearly half of UK businesses were not set up for remote working.

Headquartered at Solent Business Park in Fareham, Onecom moved over 300 staff (representing 79% of their company) to a remote working model in less than 24 hours following the government’s advice on social distancing.

Within less than a week, the telecoms experts had also secured hundreds of new hardware devices and software applications - enabling 99% of its workforce, including technical, operations and sales staff, to operate seamlessly from their living rooms.

With many Hampshire businesses yet to fully finalise their remote set ups, Onecom set up a dedicated Covid-19 support team to meet increased demand for telecoms support as businesses move to work from home. The technical team has also been working around the clock to get national businesses such as the Co-Operative Group, and regional businesses such as the Hendy Group, Autism Hampshire and Fareham-based Gattaca set up with the right telecoms, hardware and software for their teams and business needs.

Helen Myers, Onecom operations director, said: “We have seen an increase in demand from our customers for some services as a result of the current disruption caused by social distancing. Our teams have been working tirelessly to fast track employees to work from home models.

"To date, we have enabled over 400 contact centre users and more than 3,500 other workers to work remotely. For some companies it has been possible to set them up remotely within less than two hours With demand for hardware such as mobiles and laptops rising in the current environment, setting up teams remotely in such a short time frame has certainly been an operational challenge, but one we’ve been able to meet through ensuring exceptional communication and teamwork.”

Onecom’s operations team have been busy sourcing hundreds of new laptops, installing a plethora of new communications platforms and moving its vital systems for resourcing, customer relationship management, sales, marketing, communications, operations and logistics to the cloud. The operations team have also been working with different departments to change processes and systems so that they are suitable for home working and to obtain employee feedback to continuously improve these.

Substantial training programmes and communications initiatives have also been put in place at Onecom to help its staff cope with the changes. This includes written guides, tips and tricks on how to ensure best practice from home (eg how to do professional video conferencing) and advice on how staff can continue to manage their wellbeing when working from home. As part of this, Onecom is encouraging social team calls with games and activities to keep spirits high - such as scavenger hunts, fancy dress and tarot card reading.

Onecom CEO Ben Dowd has also been opening his door to all of his staff with twice-weekly company-wide video-conferencing calls. This forum allows for Dowd to continuously update all of his staff as the coronavirus situation continues to develop.

Dowd commented: “I am very impressed with both how quickly our operations and technical teams have been able to implement a successful remote working model and how all of our staff have got to grips with this new way of working. Fortuitously, we had previously started implementing systems that would enable more remote working, however the current pandemic has meant that we have fast-tracked this process to ensure that we can continue business as usual and help other businesses do the same.”