It’s been a good few weeks since the official start of lockdown, here in the UK. We’ve all been faced with challenges and uncertainties we’d probably never imagined facing at all - let alone in the first half of 2020.
Here at Superscript, we’re working from home. Fortunately, as you’d expect, with ‘digital’ being our first name, we have a pretty robust digital set-up. But we’ve all been impacted. Some of us joined the company during lockdown, some of us are dealing with kids at home, others have partners who are key workers - and we all feel the way in which our communities, customers, and partners are affected too.
What have we seen so far?
With over 950,000 people having applied for Universal Credit since lockdown began and more than 9 million expected to be furloughed, we’re all affected by job uncertainties at the moment. If you’ve been furloughed and are therefore legally obliged not to work at all, but your line of work requires maintaining good relationships with clients, how do you tread the line between staying in touch and checking in on them - because you’re a decent human being - without breaking eligibility for furlough payments?
And then there’s the overabundance of information coming from all directions. Letters from the Government, urging us to abide by the rules, in stark contrast to a broad spectrum of factual, embellished and downright false stories circulating the web - the latter via social media in particular. But the facts are so shocking and an omnipresent sense of panic makes it difficult to know whom or what to believe. As with all times of chaos and instability, criminals are capitalising on this - with phishing, false information spreading and supply scams all over the place.
Small businesses going digital
More and more small businesses are going digital - out of necessity. We’re all at home, glued to devices throughout the day. Many of us would like to order our groceries, but it’s practically impossible to book a supermarket delivery before the end of the summer, so we’re looking for alternatives. Many of these alternatives are smaller businesses which weren’t offering deliveries before the lockdown - or if they were, on a much smaller scale. Going digital inevitably leads to handling more data, so it’s definitely worth ensuring that your cyber security measures are up to scratch and that you’re GDPR compliant.
We’re scrambling to create work spaces
If you’d already set up a home workspace before lockdown, you’re no doubt reaping the returns. But many of us hadn’t - and now office furniture is hard to come by! A quick check of Google search data backs this up - searches in the UK for ‘computer desk’ almost doubled between February and March (from 60,500 searches for ‘computer desk’ in February, to 100,000 searches in March).
Staying home can be exhausting
Video calls are actually more tiring than you’d expect. The first few weeks of lockdown saw a huge uplift in back-to-back Houseparty and Zoom calls, with friends, every evening. This has now become far less popular due to the ‘Zoom Hangover’, a term neatly coined by The Cut. It doesn’t have to be this way though. Sometimes, a video conferencing call can be replaced by online chat, or by the exchange of a few old-fashioned emails. Here at Superscript, we’re big fans of Slack. Find out more about the productivity tools we like to use.
Shifts in work-life balance
Our personal and professional lives have blurred in an unusual way. If you’re working from home, this might resonate: “Free for a video call at midday, or if not, 6pm?” “Of course!”, you say - to both. But maybe you’d rather be in the garden having lunch in the sun, or taking an early evening bath. Being at home, with nowhere to go, there’s no excuse. Work-life balance is looking quite different these days. With this in mind, we’ve put together a guide to coping with stress during lockdown.
What can we expect to see, post-pandemic?
Better business contingency planning
A report by People Management and the CIPD suggests that in mid-March 2 in 5 UK businesses did not have a contingency plan in place to deal with business changes caused by the coronavirus outbreak. A follow-up poll, taken at the end of March, suggested that 1 in 5 still didn’t have one in place. Although this isn’t totally surprising - a pandemic is a rare occurrence after-all, there are plenty of more common risks that could impact a business, leading to employees needing to work from home - for example, a flooded or fire-damaged office.
According to research by YouGov, 14% of Brits are facing unemployment or reduced hours due to coronavirus-related reasons. This is a sobering statistic and it will inevitably lead to career changes for some of us. Certain industries, such as retail and tourism, have been hit particularly hard. How this will develop in the long-term is yet to be seen, but many working in these industries may well look for future opportunities in different sectors.
Increased awareness around cybersecurity risks
Everyone’s heard about coronavirus-related internet scams going around, and with employees working from home, accessing work data remotely, this can make it more difficult to keep a lid on data and IT security. We’re hoping this will lead to an increased effort by businesses to empower their employees to understand the risks of cybercrime and how to mitigate them and for businesses to ensure that they have the right security systems and processes in place, plus cyber insurance.
Less business travel
Gone are the days of first class transatlantic travel for two-day meetings (at least for most companies). It’s environmentally irresponsible, expensive, and - let’s be honest - jetlag and work just don’t mix. But what about those meetings which are closer to home, but not close to home? The type that you’ve been putting off for weeks and requires at least half a day’s travel, once it’s all added up. A three-hour train journey each way, probably costing more than a return flight to Prague, with a dodgy WiFi connection. Lockdown has shown us as at least some of these meetings can take place over video conferencing and without all the hassle of travel, leaving us less exhausted and with more time to be productive.
More working from home
It’s anyone’s guess when things might return to normal. But now that many of us are used to working from home, have set up our workspaces and adapted, it’s likely that working from home on a more regular basis will become more culturally acceptable across different business sectors.
How are we helping our customers?
We’re not just reactive to change - flexibility is built into our insurance offering.
Commitment-free, monthly subscription model
Unlike traditional annual insurance contracts, all our online business insurance covers are offered on a monthly basis. No catches.
Flexibility to add and remove cover
Not only is our cover monthly, but adding cover using your online account is as simple as anything. That means no having to make a phone call at an inconvenient time - you can service your policy 24/7. The only reasons you’ll need to get in touch with us are: if you want to remove cover or cancel your policy; if you need to update your company’s details; or if you need to update the main email address associated with your policy.
Straightforward claims process
Unlike other insurance providers who’ll often send you off to a completely different company when it comes to making a claim, with us, you’ll always know who you’re talking to. Simply start the process by signing into your online account and we’ll take it from there - without palming you off to anyone else!
Interested to hear about how we're adjusting (on a more personal level)?
We’ll be adding regularly to our series ‘Life during Lockdown’:
- Find out what our Aussie Senior Front-end Developer, Ben, has discovered about himself and his community so far, during lockdown in London.