To mark Business Continuity Awareness Week 2022, we met Neal Armstrong, PD Ports’ Head of Police, Security, and Resilience, Neal, spoke to us about his new working routine since the introduction of hybrid working.
Describe your working routine since the introduction of hybrid working?
My working week varies – I might be in one of our offices throughout the week or sometimes only a couple of days, it is varied and depends on what is happening. When I am in the office it is important to catch up with everything that does not make it onto an email, and what is happening more broadly and personally across teams. From walking through the door to getting to my office can often take half an hour or more as I catch up with different members of the team. I might come home and not feel as though I have reduced my work pile by much, however, I have had updates on the status of projects, agreed on decisions, and provided guidance and focus, as well as the social element that is important for all teams.
I would not have believed it before Covid-19 however, I am more productive working at home than in the office, and I prefer to complete detailed work at home as there are fewer interruptions. As I live locally, I can be back into Queen’s Square within ten minutes or Teesdock within 25 minutes, if required.
Do you think you have become more resilient since the introduction of hybrid working?
I’ve had to! Covid-19 was the driver for us to work from home and led to our current hybrid working model. Subsequently, we had to find ways to ensure the business continued to work effectively with a third of our staff, not in the workplace, at one point. This required us to source the IT equipment for those staff to work remotely and find ways to manage and lead effectively whilst not in the workplace. The lessons we learned during that time formed the foundation of the current hybrid working model, meaning that in the event of a disruptive event to my normal working place I can effectively do the majority of my job, anywhere at any time – this is especially useful if I need to get together a Crisis Management Team – I can get Senior Leaders and functional managers together virtually almost straight away instead of travelling to one location or trying to set up conference calls. Hybrid working has improved our ability to act dynamically.
Would you say your work-life balance has improved?
Absolutely, I wake early and I like to catch up on outstanding emails or read through journals, reports and research first thing before it gets busy. I don’t expect anyone else to be working at this time, it just suits how I like to work, and I can get a lot done without interruption. But this could easily become a 12-hour day and so I force myself to have breaks which allows me to manage non-work-related tasks and maintain focus. I can also answer the door for Amazon deliveries!
Do you think there is more to be done to increase resilience in a hybrid working model?
I think IT has accomplished a fantastic job in enabling us to work remotely when required. Some aspects of hybrid working make it difficult to share information effectively which forces us to look at alternative software packages. An example is Crisis Management, ideally, the team would all be co-located, however hybrid working allows us to come together virtually much more rapidly however, we do not currently have a software platform to dynamically share information without clogging up the command structure, so we are in the process of sourcing a package that provides us with what we need.
That is just one example, but as hybrid working develops further, we will need to invest in additional packages for collaborative working to allow us to share information securely and effectively.
What are your top three tips to increase resilience in a hybrid world?
- Most important, if you have a laptop take it home with you – it’s no good leaving it at work if you can’t get into the workplace.
- Structure your day, manage your calendar to achieve your goals, and make sure you have breaks.
- Designate a space at home. I worked at my kitchen table for 12 months which was a mistake! Find a space, corner or room you can dedicate to work that limits interruptions and is comfortable. PD Ports will provide you with appropriate equipment and advice on how you should be set up.
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