A flooded office, disaster recovery and working from home

We talk about the benefits of flexible, remote and home-working all the time, because we realise them every day. Work From Home Week is always a great opportunity to talk about these benefits – something we did with our home-worker Shaz this week.

But what better way to illustrate the benefits offered by flexible working than to use a real-life example? And in a bizarre twist of events, our real-life incident happened this week!

On Monday, a number of our colleagues arrived at our Bellshill office to find that large sections of it had been flooded due to a leaking hot water urn on the floor above. We immediately enacted our disaster recovery plan, which involved getting our affected teams – primarily sections of our first and second-line support – to work from home while we worked on getting their desks up-and-running again, with no disruption to our dedicated customer service. You can see the flood damage in the images in this blog.

So how did we achieve all of this and stick to our SLAs?

Our affected colleagues were informed via a WhatsApp group on Monday morning that they’d need to work from home; no problem, because many of our colleagues take their work laptops home with them. And for those who didn’t have their hardware, many of the platforms we use were available to them thanks to our use of cloud-based applications.

Because of the integral nature of our support team, it was essential that customers were still able to directly contact members of the team. Our internal systems team set up external Skype numbers for all of our temporary home-workers as a short-term measure, to ensure the incident at our office didn’t impact our customers who required support.

As we’re currently close to implementing our partner Gamma’s hosted telephony solution, this process will be even smoother in future as our colleagues’ numbers will be tethered to their mobile phone, allowing them to answer support calls on their mobile without sharing their personal number. On Tuesday, a set of hot-desks had been set up so some of our first-line support colleagues could work in the office; as this team takes incoming calls, pending the new Gamma Horizon solution, they mostly need to be on-site.

Our disaster recovery plan is still place as there are parts of our Bellshill office that continue to be unworkable. Some of our support consultants are still working from home, and we’re looking to get back to normal early next week.

We’re delighted that the impact on our customers has been absolutely minimal; our internal reports show that we performed really well against our SLAs of 94% first response and 45% fix on first contact throughout the entire week, despite the displacement of a large group of our support staff.

Our Service Desk Manager, Clare Townsend, has been instrumental in coordinating our internal efforts to ensure our customer service remains at the highest level. She said of the week: “it certainly wasn’t ideal to come in on Monday morning and hear that our Scotland office had been flooded.

“We knew we needed to act quickly to ensure there was no disruption to service, so we sent colleagues home who had arrived at the office and advised those who hadn’t to log on from home.

“I can’t praise my team enough; they showed huge flexibility and really pulled out all of the stops to make sure our customer support remained seamless. This is a huge success for our disaster recovery plan, and we hope to be fully operating from the Bellshill office again very soon.”

There’s no doubt that this incident has had an impact on TSG, as we work hard to repair the damage to our office. But what was most important to us was not letting this have an impact on our customers.