Stewart Crabb, M247 Account Director is a long-standing member of our sales team, working with our customers to find the best solutions for their business. In this latest blog we asked him what it was like to transition to a remote working environment and how things have changed in the last 3 months as businesses have adapted to this way of working.
How did your department transition to remote working?
My role was predominately based from home so switching to a 100% home working setup was not an issue at all, but other members of our team, in the UK and Internationally, did work from the office most of the week. Systems such as Microsoft Teams and our own Unified Communication tools were already available to us all, allowing the entire global team to switch to a remote working function overnight whilst maintaining access the necessary information over the last three/four months of lockdown.
How are teams now working differently to before?
Our aim is to build long term relationships with our customers and a crucial part of this relationship is face-to-face meetings to discuss and understand their challenges and goals. With lockdown and social distancing this has not been possible over the last three months. Therefore, we quickly adopted the use of Microsoft Teams video calling to allow us to still see our customers face-to-face. We also found additional benefits to this way of working, such as the fact it’s quicker to arrange calls without having to organise travel times and meeting rooms, furthermore it’s possible to get all the necessary people in the room across from multiple offices making the whole process more efficient for our customers.
Microsoft Teams functions such as recording quickly allow us to share a meeting for future reference with our customers or internally, helping to streamline the end-to-end sales process. We have also found during the pandemic that using the tool for meetings is also a great way to double up as a product demonstration, quickly showing the key features of the tool and how easily it can be used.
During this crisis the ‘everyday’ focus for the team has changed – we recognised that customers’ were initially going into ‘survival’ mode to ensure their business could keep trading during this time, priorities changed overnight and long term IT plans were being accelerated faster than anyone could have imagined – our role was to help, support, advise customers as best we could during an unprecedented time.
Our overnight transition at the beginning of the pandemic to work from home allowed us to be there to help customers as soon as they needed support, meaning we could offer the necessary advice across the full breadth of our solutions, including connectivity and Unified Communications. This was crucial for our customers as our team are often the first port of call when seeking help, especially during these unprecedented times, so being able to offer all the support we could with no disruption to their existing services was amazing.
We are now seeing longer term IT plans return to our discussions, however many of these have been adapted to help businesses prepare for similar situations to what we have faced over the last few months.
What has the best experience been of working in the current environment?
The best experience has been how quick the other departments of M247 transitioned to 100% working from home. The move of all teams was as seamless as possible, and this was also commented on by several of my customers.
What would you change?
I really don’t think I would change a great deal. Considering the challenges we faced as a company, as so many did, I believe we handled them immensely well and should be proud of how we continued to provide our excellent customer service and solutions throughout this whole global crisis.
What has been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge has been not being able to go see customers in person. Face-to-face meetings have been so important in the past as they allow us to build strong relationships, understand our customers and their infrastructure to offer the right support. Our utilisation of Microsoft Teams video conferencing has allowed us to bring some normality back to our meetings and has been really effective, which I can see continuing throughout the remainder of 2020. However, I do look forward to meeting customers at their sites again and getting back into the office to meet with colleagues when it is safe to do so!
What does a typical day look like that is different from before?
My typical structure of a day has not changed too much since I worked from home most of time before lockdown, but I do have a lot more video conference calls in my diary than I used to!
I try to get out three mornings a week for a run which helps keep a level of normality while all the gyms are closed and ensures I stay active. Taking the dog for a walk at lunch times is a great way of getting out of the house and away from the laptop too. The poor guys never been walked so much.
How have M247 supported you during this time?
M247 have been great throughout the whole Covid lockdown. We’ve been kept informed and updated every step of the way from weekly updates and CEO webinars to quizzes and advice and support plus asking for employee feedback. I hear of how other companies have communicated with their staff through lockdown and I’m proud to say that M247 have been fantastic in this regard.
As a result of the current situation what do you think this will change in terms of how companies work flexibly in the future?
Going forward I do not believe companies will have as many people in the office at the same time. Office numbers and sizes will reduce and we’re seeing that already from our customer base. Face-to -face meetings will come back but it will not be for a while and the technology to replace these will only further improve. Meetings while wearing a virtual reality headset!? You heard it here first.
Top tips and recommendations
I have really taken the time during lockdown to do some self-improvement. Both in a work aspect and on a personal level. A few books and documentaries that I have taken in during lockdown are:
- New Sales Simplified (Book)
- Eat Their Lunch (Book)
- Smart Calling (Book)
- Snap Selling (Book)
- Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race (Book)
- The warmth of other suns (Book)
- Unshakable (Book)
- 13th (Netflix)
- Neat (Documentary on Bourbon whiskey)