Steering the course through uncharted waters – our COVID-19 journey so far

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The COVID-19 pandemic has touched and challenged virtually every individual, community and business globally. The strengths and weaknesses of each have been exposed and, for many, these will continue to be tested in the weeks, months and, perhaps, years ahead.

At Fivium, we have undoubtedly been tested by the operating environment coronavirus has created, but as we have a culture of trust and autonomy, our team adapted quickly to the new challenge. We have always focused on the importance of maintaining a healthy, happy and well-connected team, which has never been more relevant than now. Having those foundations already in place has proven vital in helping us safeguard our people.

Whilst monitoring the rapidly developing situation back in March, we made the decision to close our central London offices in advance of the government mandate. We felt this was the right thing to do to protect our team and to ensure that we could continue supporting our customers and providing the high levels of service they rely on us for. We encouraged our people to tell us about any challenges they had with their home-working environments and then provided grants to them to buy any new items or equipment needed to make their life and work easier. We also increased our flexibility with working hours to help team members manage and juggle childcare and home school commitments.

Although we are proud to have always been closely connected to our customers, this crisis has given us the opportunity to build even closer relationships with them. As the situation unfolded and lockdown became more likely, we contacted our customers to see how we could help them and then adapted our services to support them in the best way possible. We have remained at their side since, and throughout, which has only served to strengthen the trust and relationships between us.

During times of such great uncertainty, mental health and well-being can be challenged in ways previously unknown, so we’ve adapted our policy to offer different, and broader, areas of support – both mentally and physically. This has included maintaining our regular (but now remote) Tea and Talk sessions, ensuring our Mental Health First Aiders are active and available to connect digitally and introducing three Wellbeing Ambassadors to support the team.

Because our people are our bedrock, our commitment to their training and development hasn’t changed. Everyone at Fivium is granted a generous annual training budget and is encouraged to explore courses and activities which cultivate their personal and professional development. We want them to know we are investing in them, in developing their competencies and their individual growth.

As the senior management team, we are also regularly monitoring our own performance to ensure the actions we take are working. In a recent staff survey we scored 9.6/10 when we asked our team how we handled the transition into lockdown and a new way of working. We have always nurtured and encouraged feedback, and now, this vital input is helping us shape how we work and is guiding us to where we need to adjust or adapt.

As lockdown measures ease, we are planning for the next stage of our journey back to a ‘new normal’ and have again asked our team for their views. The majority, 75%, have told us that they want to stay working from home until it’s completely safe to return to the office and we are happy to support them in this. For those that do want to return to the office, it is important that they can do so safely and maintain connection to the wider team, so we’re installing webcams on all computers in the office to enable everyone to continue to fully participate in video meetings.

There will be much written about this crisis in the coming months and years as both people and organisations reflect on their responses, attitudes and conduct during this period. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. However, we wanted to share our experience now of our journey through the pandemic so far, whilst the challenges are still real and the decisions we’ve made are still fresh in our minds. Being guided by doing the right thing hasn’t failed us in 14 years, and we’re proud to have had the opportunity to show our true colours. The pillars of support, collaboration and authenticity that the company is built on shine vibrantly and solidly in the best, and worst, of times.

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