It’s now 9 weeks since I wrote my first blog ‘Stay Safe! Stay at Home! But Stay in Touch! – where has the 9 weeks gone and dare I say it’s only 13 weeks to December so only 3 more pay days before Christmas!

Throughout July and August business has flourished; I’ve continued to develop relationships with new clients and have stopped worrying about turning on the camera for those client meetings – we all have bad hair days!

July was an interesting month for me as Phase 3 decided to expand the team and I took on organising the interviews. As always, the first stage of the process was a 30 minute telephone interview with me so no cameras just a good old-fashioned telephone call. The one thing I did do differently was for the first time I gave access to my calendar to the ‘outside world’ allowing the applicants to book in a time convenient for them; this worked really well and saved all the going backwards and forwards of emails arranging dates and times for everyone.

Following the second round of shortlisting I then set up 2 days of interviews to include 3 of my colleagues. This was quite an extraordinary experience, in that previously I’d always met in person all the applicants at interview, so although we used ‘Teams’ and we interviewed in our usual informal Phase 3 style it did feel quite strange to begin with. A real positive though was that there was no requirement to ‘find a suitable room’ for two days for the interviews, no travel issues for people getting to and from the interview site and an added bonus was fortunately we had no technical issues to overcome. So, during the coming weeks our new colleagues will be joining Phase 3 albeit on a remote basis for now and I’m really looking forward to meeting them all in person as and when we can get together as a team.

I also took the opportunity in July and August to take some leave; the first for a long time and I was well and truly ready for a break. Having had a foreign holiday cancelled we headed off to the East coast of Yorkshire for a few days in our caravan; not quite the same but a beautiful part of the country. COVID-19 has certainly change things for caravanners – social distancing in place and extra deep cleans of facilities gave us a very safe environment to relax and enjoy our break.

Holiday over and back to work, I started to think about whether I was ready to go into the office for a day. As it’s in Manchester, in normal circumstances I usually enjoy a couple of days in the office with colleagues and have the added advantage of all those shops and eateries in a city I have grown to love!

However, given my home is at the other side of the Pennines, it’s a ‘TransPennine’ train journey for me – but was I ready to get on a train? I started to weigh up the pros and cons of going over to Manchester one day a week and I have to say I soon came to the conclusion that no I wasn’t ready to get on a train just yet. It wasn’t about having to wear a mask on public transport as I have no issue at all with that, but having been very sensible about mixing and socialising in the previous weeks since lockdown eased was it right to assume I was going to be safe? Should I go on a mid-morning train rather than the usual early train to avoid the ‘crowd’ and the same coming home, would a mid-afternoon train be less busy than the early evening train? But then the time taken up travelling would leave me little time to be productive in the office, so was it really worth the effort when I can be much more productive for a full day at home. I do miss those shops though!

As I look forward to September, for the first time ever Phase 3 are hosting a week of events in their ‘Festival of Knowledge’, which starts on the 7th September. Colleagues are currently working hard to prepare for what will be a week full of free webinars covering topics including System Health Checks, Payroll reporting, The 12 Steps to System Selection and not least our ever-popular User Groups. The great thing about the Festival of Knowledge is that you can register and ‘attend’ as many events as you want and at no expense in terms of travel and accommodation, which quite often is a huge issue for many organisations. It’s a whole new experience for Phase 3 but one which I am sure will change the way we deliver some of our events in the future.
This new ‘normality’ is what I’ve come to accept and although we’re far from getting together as a team, my next one to one meeting with James my manager is going to be somewhere between Wakefield and Selby and will hopefully include a coffee – socially distanced of course.

I’ll probably revisit my decision to visit the office in the weeks to come but for now, I’ll be Staying Safe! Staying at Home! But Staying in Touch!

The article was written by Marilyn Summers, Customer Success Manager – Services at Phase 3.