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Looking after our employees through COVID-19

By Jules Mackley 9th July 2020

The coronavirus crisis has been a challenging time for us all, particularly for those staff who have been furloughed. At SimpleClick, employee well-being is always one of our top priorities and therefore we have been focusing on supporting our colleagues both professionally and personally. In this blog Rachel Cooke, one of our web developers, shares her experience of the last few months.

One of the first challenges of the virus for our team was shifting to homeworking. Our technical lead, Sam Stevens, was instrumental in implementing this. All required infrastructure was quickly put into place, meaning we could get on with our work at home without interruption to client work or to-do lists. I personally wasn’t too concerned by the shift to working from home and really benefited from the added flexibility and the time saved on my commute (putting my washing on at lunchtime is a bonus, too).

I’ve been put on furlough for two separate periods since March. Initially, I considered completing some work-related training while I had the extra time. However, our Managing Director, Richard, made it clear that SimpleClick employees were not expected to undertake training unless we really wanted to. He was conscious of the extra stress completing job-related training could cause those of us on furlough during an already demanding period.

SimpleClick has always prioritised its employees’ mental health. It was made clear at the start of lockdown that the most important thing was to get through any furlough period happy and healthy, rather than focusing on upskilling for work. Richard encouraged furloughed staff to pursue outside learning during this time instead. We had seen other employers instructing staff on furlough to use their time off in a dedicated way, for example completing an exercise programme or undertaking training. Our managers, however, felt any added pressure would not be conducive to good employee well-being and therefore decided to let us decide for ourselves what we felt capable of achieving whilst furloughed.

While I was on furlough I developed two non-negotiable rules for myself:

  1. Be up and dressed by 10.00am every day.
  2. Achieve just one thing each day.

I felt it was important for my well-being (and eventual return to work) to maintain some level of productivity. During my time on furlough I completed a number of DIY household projects, from painstakingly restoring a second-hand ottoman to repainting an ugly skirting board. One of my proudest moments was learning how to rewire a lamp by myself. Although not a ‘work-related’ task, the patience and perseverance required to keep trying after eight failed attempts at fixing the lamp definitely counts as personal development!

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While we were on furlough, Richard personally called employees once a week. As well as providing updates on who was coming on or off furlough, he always checked in on how we were feeling and asked if there was anything more the company could do to provide support. I really appreciated these weekly catch ups, especially as I have friends on furlough who haven’t spoken to their managers once during lockdown. The transparent communication of what was going on with the business definitely put me at ease while I was off work.

Managing Director Richard says: “SimpleClick has always seen employee well-being as a priority. During the coronavirus crisis this has been at the forefront of our minds, which is why we have implemented a range of measures to monitor everyone’s mental health and provide support where necessary. The crisis has provided a learning curve for employers across the UK, and we plan to take many of our ‘lessons learned’ back into the office when we are able to reopen.”