Industry Leader Interview – Donna Scully, Director, Carpenters Group

What's the biggest challenge (Coronavirus related) facing your sector of the industry?

The sudden move to home working for staff at all levels, there has been a sudden and intense shift of focus from development to service delivery.

Providing the infrastructure and support to allow people to access systems and services across different endpoints and access to remote support functions.

In addition, the increased demand on audio and video conferencing solutions has grown along with demand for collaborative working systems such as Teams.

Supporting those customers that are not plugged in online. Communication with our corporate clients has clearly been different, but not really affected as we all adapt to using the technology available more widely. The challenge has been engaging with those who do not have access to technology, who prefer to exchange documents by post rather than email.

How are you and your business dealing with this?

As for everyone, it’s been a period of adjustment and certainly very busy, but our wonderful staff have once again come through and thanks to our technology, we were fully operational remotely within a short time. We’re still working out how some things can be done remotely and I’m sure that we can crack those as we go forward. We are also engaging with the wider industry to suggest ways of making things work better.  It is a time to be supportive, innovative and constructive.  We don’t just talk collaboration, we live it.  There could not be a better time for it than now.

As a business that produces documents, the production and delivery methods required has thrown up new challenges, not only internally but externally too. Adopting E-signature more broadly and working with 3rd parties to redefine protocols is the way forward but the speed of change required is challenging.

What is the most important piece of leadership advice you can offer?

You need to lead right now – your staff, customers and suppliers need it.  A lot of decisions have to be made and if you make them with a good heart and head, considering all the information you have, then you cannot do any more.  There can be no blame. This is not something we have had to do before.  As an Irish person, I tend to be quite adaptable and I try to take one day at a time and that works for me.  Obviously you have to plan but you have to combine that with facing what each day brings.

Stay connected – with staff, clients and customers. Everyone understands that things are different right now but nothing is more important right now than staying in touch.  Our team have been amazing in the way they are supporting the home workers from the easy to follow desk top to the booklet prepared to help you adapt (if you haven’t home-worked before) and look after your physical and mental wellbeing. Keep in touch with staff, make sure they are kept informed and ensure that still feel part of the team.

What are your top tips for home-working productivity?

Don’t drift into your working day – get dressed, do your pre-work routines – but then start your day with a sense of purpose. If possible, plan what you would like to achieve (even if you don’t manage it all) and add a little structure to your day.  Set aside a place that becomes your new work place. Try not to be distracted by TV or social media. When you’re finished, shut off and re-join your family, housemates or if you live alone, focus your time on what you want to do.

We need to be flexible too particularly with schools closed.  A working day may need to be different for people depending on their commitments. Make sure you keep the team spirit and camaraderie going among your staff too.  Our IT Department is 24/7 so no matter when somebody is working, if they have an issue, they will receive support and be able to continue to work.

More broadly, management and wellbeing of homeworking staff is the biggest challenge. More than ever providing managers with the systems and services to manage monitor and interact with staff is critical.

What would be your overriding message to the industry right now?

Let’s make this work the best way we can, together.  Let’s collaborate, innovate and be flexible.  Think outside the box.  We can make this work if we all want to.  

What we do now will be remembered once we get through this testing period. How we treat our staff and each other. How we have responded to the needs of our customers. How we have responded to our wider community. When this is over, we can be stronger and more united than ever.  We should and must support each other.  This industry is great with some great people.  We want it to come out of this able to restart and do what we do best.  I think we will work differently post Covid19 and I hope we will be kinder more grateful people who make more quality time for each other.  Keep safe and see you on the other side.

Let's make this work the best way we can, together.  Let's collaborate, innovate and be flexible. 


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