Locked-down Nationwide staff make 2.5 million video calls in June

Home-working technologies are no longer just a contingency for large companies, with future working practices set to change

Nationwide Building Society staff have taken to video-conferencing through Microsoft Teams, making 2.5 million calls in one month during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The company’s usage of Teams video calls was 3,000% higher in June than February, the last full month before lockdown.

This kind of take-up bodes well for Nationwide and other companies that are planning for different ways of working in the post-coronavirus world.

The building society sent 12,000 staff home to work when the lockdown was introduced and the success of technology to support home working over the last few months has given it confidence to increase remote working in the future.

“Colleagues have a single platform that could support collaboration across the society and was accessible across multiple devices, offering them more choice on how they manage their working day around other priorities,” said Nationwide.

Despite staff being at home, including software developers, the building society said Microsoft Teams helped it to organise support quickly for people financially impacted by Covid-19 after tech and business staff collaborated through the platform to build, test and roll out an online hub for customers in just eight days.

“The technology has also supported the continuation of learning and development through virtual training sessions, hosting daily scrums for agile squads and delivering product updates,” it said.

Nationwide chief operating officer Patrick Eltridge said: “Having Teams in place prior to Covid-19 has ensured we could react to lockdown rules very effectively as we prepared the organisation for new ways of working. Teams has enabled us to convene large groups of people in a way that isn’t possible in a meeting room.”

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The technology will play a role as the company changes how its people work, said Eltridge. “It’s not a contingency service for us, but something we will continue to build on in the future – it’s a genuine extension of our effectiveness.”

He added: “The workplace of the future will be about choice, with the flexibility to be where we need to be to do our jobs as effectively as possible. Technology is essential as it provides the infrastructure needed so we can work dynamically, while still collaborating with colleagues across Nationwide and continuing to be productive and efficient with their time. This is the workplace that Nationwide is creating right now.”

Businesses are planning to transform how their staff work, even after a staggered return to office-based working. Companies including Barclays Bank and Danske Bank have already publicly stated that changes brought in to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 are here to stay.

Early in the lockdown, Jes Staley, CEO at Barclays Bank, which has 85,000 staff, said: “The notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past.”

More recently, Danske Bank said: “The Covid-19 experience of sending thousands from the office to work from home will have a lasting impact on how work is structured and conducted at Danske Bank.”

Meanwhile, employees are open to increased home working. According to research from global recruitment firm Robert Walters, 87% of UK workers would like more opportunities to work from home after they return to the workplace, and 21% said they would like to work from home permanently.

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