December 10, 2020 @ 21:03 by Steven Hugill
A technology firm offering cognitive disability and mental wellbeing support has introduced a number of measures to help staff cope with the impact of COVID-19.
Bosses at eQuality Solutions say they have adopted a ‘common-sense’ approach to the pandemic, offering bankable hours to give staff flexibility to book impromptu time off and anonymous loans for those needing extra financial support.
They are also providing mental wellbeing support content and reminding staff of company benefits they can access anonymously, such as counselling and financial help lines.
The Hebburn-based business is known for supporting students with disabilities in higher education across the UK, providing equipment, training and software tailored to individual needs that help remove barriers to learning.
And officials say it has gone from strength-to-strength this year, despite COVID-19, recruiting new workers throughout the pandemic.
While navigating the crisis, bosses say they managed to avoid furloughing any of their 37-strong Hebburn-based team and 80 UK-wide freelancers.
Andy Gough, eQuality Solutions managing director, said the success is down to swift decision-making and recognition of the longevity of measures the firm needed to put in place.
He said: “Like just about every business, we went into crisis mode.
“We didn’t know where this was going or how long this was going to last.
“We realised fairly quickly though that because our services would continue to be in demand, and as our work is Government-funded, we had some stability so we were lucky in that sense as we felt able to make strong decisions quickly that would help us, and our staff, navigate and survive the COVID-19 crisis.”
Andy revealed the company quickly adapted to remote working, keeping just a handful of staff on-site in the warehouse, with daily communication with teams made through ‘stand-up’ meetings.
Andy said: “In the tech world, it’s fairly normal to practice daily stand-ups on agile projects, and as we evolved the business and tried to become more agile, I thought introducing them was a great way of keeping the team connected with each other.
“They’ve been a fantastic tool as they make it really easy to spot where there’s any operational issues or concerns that need escalating, not to mention being able to sense when a member of the team might be struggling mentally.
“We’ve learnt so much throughout this experience around being more resilient and agile.
“I look forward to getting people back together in the office when it is possible, but even when there is a return to something similar to ‘normal’, there are plenty of measures we will keep in place, as this new business model will hold us in a much stronger position, as a business and as a team.”