14 April 2020
By Angela Day, Head of People, MOSL
‘Resilience’ is one of those words that means different things to different people and can often be used so much that people tend to glaze over when they hear it – it has become a bit of a buzzword for business or change management. This word, however, has never been more relevant to us than now, on both on a personal and a business level.
Resilience for me means the ability to recover at speed from difficulties. It originates from the Latin ‘leaping back’, 'the act of rebounding', or as a Training Manager once described it to me: it is ‘bounce back ability’.
We all have it, although some of us are better versed at being able to adapt to those difficulties and move forward. Being better versed implies that resilience is a learned behaviour, one of thoughts and actions that can improve our ability to adapt and overcome the difficulties we face. Whilst there are numerous theories relating to what influences our ability to be resilient, I am a believer that there are things we can all do to build our personal resilience. And I thoroughly believe that it is when we are faced with adversity, as we are all right now, that we are provided with the greatest opportunity to learn and grow. As Michele Obama once said: “You should never view your challenges as disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”
On Monday 16 March, we made the decision, as a leadership team, to stress test our Business Continuity Plan at MOSL in the event of having to work remotely during the escalating COVID-19 situation. We briefed our colleagues that from Wednesday 18 March we would be rotating working from home - asking half of the business to work from home full time in the first week (which included carrying out any face-to-face meetings virtually) with the other half remaining in the office. We would then swap over the following week, before all teams returned to the office on 1 April to feedback on effectiveness and any lessons learnt.
On 5pm that same day, however, the Government advice changed, and all colleagues were notified that they were now required to work from home, with immediate effect, until further notice. It was such a strange feeling leaving the office that day. Saying goodbye to colleagues but not knowing when we would see each other again. It brought on an overwhelming desire to hug my colleagues (which of course went against social distancing rules!)
We are now into our fourth week of working from home, adjusting to a life of self-isolating - for some of us with our children, partners, flatmates, and for others, home alone. We are adjusting to the new normal. We have good days and bad days. Days where we are thriving and days when we are surviving.
To support building resilience for our colleagues as a business, we have found a number of different ways to make sure our colleagues feel connected during their working day. We’ve made frequent use of the video function in virtual meetings, introduced a new internal newsletter, set up a ‘virtual kitchen’ chat room, we have weekly all team catch ups and continue to run social events and activities virtually.
We are also ensuring that colleagues understand that flexibility is key to managing the day, and that the 9-5 may not be practical when balancing other commitments that self-isolating brings with it. We are providing data, ideas and overall accessibility to mental wellbeing support, with some of our teams setting up physical challenges and providing ongoing support and guidance through our Mental Health First Aiders.
But building resilience is also about purpose and as much as we are supporting our colleagues during this time, we have been working at pace to support the market we operate and the trading parties operating within it. During the last three weeks the impact of COVID-19 has challenged the non-household water market, as well as the wider utilities sector. With a number of business customers being forced to close their doors, from restaurants and cafes to hairdressers and leisure facilities, the water market has been impacted.
MOSL has been working at speed with Ofwat and Defra to implement a package of initiatives, including urgent changes to provide immediate support to trading parties, whilst also looking to the future and what enduring solutions are required to stabilise the market post COVID-19.
This crisis will be a test for us, not just as individuals and an organisation, but will test the resilience of a young and evolving market. With the situation changing daily, there are a number of things that we cannot know for certain, but what we do know is that we are an organisation of passionate and dedicated colleagues who are committed to driving this resilience for the market. As market operator, we are committed to ensuring the wellbeing of our colleagues whilst continuing to deliver our services to trading parties – both during these unprecedented times and when we are able to return to ‘business as usual’ – in whatever shape that may take.