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Keeping business afloat during Covid-19

Published: 22 May 2020

Suzanne Hill, CQP FCQI, Director and Quality Executive at Assured Quality Improvements Limited, UK, and Chair of CQI Derby and Nottingham branch, talks to Daniel Moore about how she is adapting to new ways of working during the coronavirus outbreak.

Daniel Moore: How have your roles and responsibilities been affected by the coronavirus outbreak?

Suzanne Hill: As a business owner and Chair of the CQI Derby and Nottingham branch, my roles and responsibilities have not changed, if anything they have increased, with the additional responsibility to keep operations running remotely, while complying with the requirements for social distancing and avoiding non-essential travel. I also have a continued responsibility to support my family and myself by keeping everyone safe and healthy.

DM: What has and hasn’t worked while working from home?

SH: I have a well-equipped office setup for this style of working. We are fortunate enough to have ultrafast broadband installed even though I am in a small Derbyshire village, so I thank the Government for its ‘Building Digital UK’ roll-out plan.

To stay more connected, I am deliberately trying to use the telephone rather than using emails, which has helped with both the social contact and my mental health and wellbeing

Making sure I take regular breaks is another thing that didn’t work well at the start, but now I have alarms to prompt that. It almost feels like being back at school with a bell system!

One thing I’m missing is building relationships with people, while training and holding business improvement activities. This is where I get the most satisfaction from my work. With that said, I am devising ways to continue this even in this new working environment.

DM: How have the activities at the CQI’s Derby and Nottingham branch been affected by Covid-19? 

SH: The CQI’s branch committee are meeting regularly using remote meeting applications to organise modifications to our 2020 event schedule. So far, we have held two events remotely and we have two more webinars planned for 9 June and 16 July (to be confirmed). Our Annual General Meeting (AGM), which took place in April, had some drastic adjustments to it as we were unable to conduct the schools STEM (science technology engineering and mathematics) event training due to social distancing restrictions.

In its place we enhanced the other planned elements, which included the AGM business and a talk from the CQI’s CEO Vincent Desmond, covering the ‘Changing Landscape for Quality in the 21st Century’.

DM: As a quality professional, what lessons have you learned during this pandemic?

SH: The obvious one is to add health pandemics to contingency planning. I do not believe there will have been many organisations with detailed planning for such a global shutdown/minimisation of business operations. Previously identified risks included localised disruption (earthquakes, tsunamis, terrorism, volcanic eruptions) but not the global nature of a pandemic.

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