How MIH is coping with the Pandemic and the lessons we’ve learned

Pandemic. In the beginning ….. or 7th November 2016, to be exact, MIH was started in the living room of our Director’s flat, little did she think that fast forward three and a half years later she would be sitting back there. However, with Covid-19 rampant, that is exactly where she is now (admittedly she has changed the layout of the room somewhat) with the only difference being that rather than being a lone home worker (a bit of a tongue twister that) she now is a team home worker!

An update from us

A few weeks back we wrote a blog on how thankful MIH and Sarah were to all the people who facilitated our working arrangements. Following on from this and in true MIH style, we thought it would be a good idea to update you on how we are all getting on and some lessons learned.

So, we start with, and we think we can safely say this, we all hate it!

It is only when you are not working in an office that you become aware of how much you rely on your place of work, for both getting out of the house, the social aspect and let’s be honest the gratification of a job well done, which allows you to truly enjoy time, not at work.

No longer will anyone complain about who is getting in the tea round or having to make a toastie for anyone else, although we are sure that it won’t take long for that all to start up again once we are all back together!

Particularly as whilst writing this,” Back Together Again”, the Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway version is running through some of our heads, although as Max pointed out recently it should actually be Akon’s Locked up!

The upside of lockdown

Leaving aside our dislike of the working arrangements, we do know that there have been some positives out of this lockdown.

At MIH we are all committed to ensuring that despite, having to work apart, we maintain the MIH ethos and are all aware that when we do come back, we want it to be an almost seamless transition. We are lucky that we have a very strong team spirit and despite not being in close proximity we still know what is going on in each other’s properties and for that matter, lives..

Although this is typical of the way MIH works – where no MIH client is ever a complete stranger- with homeschooling, partners, parents and siblings around this approach has been invaluable. We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to ensure that there are no gaps for our clients and in our management and are confident that our responsiveness will remain exactly as it was when we were all office-based. We also continue to look out for our colleagues as we know that this consideration will be returned in full when we need the same from them.

The Customer Service Inbox

In part, this has been achieved by the creation of a Customer Service Inbox where all emails are copied to and which all property managers have access to and can send emails from.

We truly believe that our clients are inadvertently and unknowingly benefitting from this. Should they call and get someone other than their property manager the person answering the phone will generally know what they are talking about. All issues can be dealt with promptly regardless of what they are or whom they get on the other end of the phone or who has received the email.

Transition not always plain sailing

We admit that this transition has not been plain sailing and there was some resistance to this initially, not everyone wants their emails being seen. However, this is not a tool to be used to check up on each other and is purely to ensure that MIH can deal with those time-dependent issues, which may not be picked up by the PM if they are dealing with their home life which often unwillingly intrudes. As lockdown down has extended the benefits have become easily apparent although having to clear the inbox out every day is not a task anyone relishes.

We can do everything we could do in the office

We already have lauded our IT company to the ground and through their intervention, our emails are received at the same time as if we received these in the office, sometimes quicker due to home connections being faster.

We are also able to answer our phones and do everything that we would if we were in the office (except socialise or for some have their coffee made!). In fact, the only thing we can’t do from home is give out keys, receive returned keys, send out post or receive the same.

Yet, we were able to overcome this as access can be given via tenants who are at home (obviously with the correct social distancing in place) and for all correspondence, whether it be received or needs to be sent being with by local members of staff attending the office (again observing social distancing) and scanning this to the system and their colleagues. Any banking for those who are still sending cheques is taken over to the bank across the road!

Time to focus

This leaves the final positive of working from home, and we appreciate that this rather goes against the grain of what we have said about distractions of home working, we are all able to focus on those tasks that we have put to the bottom of our “to-do list” such our Health and Safety Updates, our blogs – Max, we are talking about you, planning our imminent office move and a new website- Sarah, our new client websites – Laurence and dealing with our Major Works projects and arranging Zoom calls with residents accordingly – Joe and Nicola.

We hope that this approach will stand us in good stead with our clients whose properties we are unable to visit due to Property Managers being considered “Super Spreaders” but who have worked with us during this time as they are all aware of how keen we are to get back to our site visits and being in the field as it were.

With all these positives and in view of the amount we have been able to achieve with getting our housekeeping in order, it makes us wonder why we even have an office and this has been very in our mind in view of our planned move to a larger office to house us all in the Autumn.

Our blogs are often influenced by literary references and to quote one of our favourites, the opening line of Pride and Prejudice (paraphrased of course) about a truth being universally acknowledged. In this case, with a growing business, who are still dealing with new business inquiries despite the circumstances, we need more space for our existing and new staff to be comfortable in. Against this background we ask the question do we still need a larger office? Particularly when we are managing so well at home.

Our answer is a resounding yes as we know that although as a temporary measure, we know we can work well, we work better together – sorry that this is sounding somewhat like a slogan of some sort- and for that reason, our search will commence as soon as practicable to do so. In the same vein, this blog is being written prior to the VE Bank Holiday Celebration and in advance of the details of how the country will ease back into work. MIH will always adhere to the Government Guidelines and will consider these in conjunction with both the physical and mental health of our staff which is always paramount. If we are allowed back to work, our property managers will start by getting out to their buildings and will be well prepared to hit the ground running as they have already prepared the groundwork to do so.

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