This page is intended as an update for Financial Ombudsman Service staff.
Update: Friday 20 March 2020
Please check your work emails or the intranet for further updates.
Thursday 19 March, 4.30pm
We just want to update you on our progress as we continue to get back to business as usual – or at least our current version of that – and settle into our new ways of working:
School, nursery closures and caring responsibilities
As we said in our update late yesterday, we know the closure of schools and nurseries will bring challenges for many of our staff.
We also know some of you may not be able to work – or may not be able to work your full hours. We want to reassure you again that we will work with you in looking at what hours you can realistically do and what new working patterns and approaches may look like.
We are finalising our plans for how we will manage this as a service – and hope to share these plans with you tomorrow. In the meantime, please do speak to your manager about the hours you may be able to work, so we can all continue to pull together and play our part for our colleagues and our customers.
Over the past week, we’ve occasionally used text messages to reach you all. Technology is a brilliant thing when it works well – but we’ve been asking a lot of all our digital platforms over the past week. Yesterday, a technical hiccup meant many of you received a series of incomprehensible text messages – apologies for this – and for any confusion.
Over the past 72 hours, our IT colleagues have increased our homeworking capacity from 800 to 2,600. With just a few remaining staff to download the authenticator app, this means by the end of this week, most people will be able to work from home.
A big thank you to our IT colleagues for the speed at which they’ve got us up and running again as a service. It’s a remarkable achievement.
So – now we have the capacity – we need your help in keeping our system and performance as stable as possible, so that everyone can stay connected:
- Staggered sign-in – our servers are put under pressure at 9.00am each morning – the most popular log-in time. Please help our IT team keep them stable by avoiding logging in on the hour if possible.
- If you use Citrix and Skype – we are working fast to improve our Citrix and Skype performance. The IT team have put together some hints and tips – please do read these so you know how you can help keep our systems stable.
A number of colleagues across the service are helping us trial a remote telephone service – this is progressing well, and we’re hoping to get a limited service up and running shortly.
However, if you’re logged in to IPFX, you should be able to make and receive calls to businesses and consumers in the normal way.
Our offices in London and Coventry will be closed from 5.00pm tomorrow, except for essential staff, until further notice. If you have any belongings you need to collect, please do come and pick them up before then, but please be aware that TfL and other transport providers are, from today, beginning to restrict their services.
If you live or work in London, please do check the latest updates on TfL website.
HR and finance questions
We know many of you have questions for our HR and finance teams. As a reminder:
- HR questions: Please check the FAQs on MyHR – which will help answer many of your questions.
- Finance questions: You can find the latest information about payroll, overtime, expenses and season tickets on the finance pages on the intranet.
Thank you again for your support and your resilience. We will continue to keep you updated.
In the meantime, stay connected with each other and stay well. There have been some brilliant examples of the creative ways in which colleagues have been keeping their spirits up and people have been sharing some great wellbeing ideas.
Wednesday 18 March, 6.30pm
School, nursery closures and caring responsibilities
We know the government’s announcement this evening that all schools and nurseries will close from Friday afternoon on 20 March will bring some challenges for many of our staff.
We appreciate that some of you may not be able to work - or may not be able to work your full hours. Please do speak to your manager about this. We want to reassure you that we will work with you in looking at what hours you can realistically work.
We are putting plans in place for how we as a service will manage this in the longer-term and will of course keep you updated on our plans.
Wednesday 18 March, 3pm
Thank you for your continued support and patience as we shape a new way of working for us all. We’ve been hearing of great team work across the service.
I’d also like to thank those teams across the service who’ve worked so hard to get us back to business as usual in such a short space of time, and we’re making good progress:
- We now have capacity for everyone to work from home and we’re working with those people who haven’t yet downloaded the authenticator app.
- We know many of you have experienced problems logging on remotely yesterday. This is continuing to improve and we’re grateful for your patience and perseverance. It’s important for you not to come into the office – unless we’ve contacted you directly to ask you to. This is to help protect your own wellbeing and that of your colleagues whose roles mean they need to be in the building for now.
- We are testing our phone service to increase the number of people who can take calls from customers at home. We are trialling this today and aim to get a limited service up and running from tomorrow.
- We have a skeleton team in the office who are handling our post, and to whom we are extremely grateful. They are working hard to work through the correspondence we’re receiving by post during this time.
School, nursery closures and caring responsibilities
- Many of you are understandably concerned about the prospect of schools or nurseries closing.
- We want to be as flexible as we can when people have challenges with homeworking because of personal circumstances. We are in the process of finalising and confirming our approach to cover these circumstances and we will let people know as soon as we can.
- In the meantime, we understand that if you have children or other caring responsibilities, you might need to take unexpected time off work. Please don’t worry if you need to do this over the next day or so - just let your manager know and talk to them about your circumstances and what work you are able to do.
- With many travel companies cancelling holidays, you may have taken leave to travel, but aren’t able to do so.
- As usual, you can of course cancel your leave request and continue to work instead, but please do speak to your manager first.
Questions to HR
- Colleagues in HR are receiving extremely high numbers of requests from people across the service. Please read the FAQs on myHR and speak to your manager – as the first port of call.
We’ll continue to keep you updated and informed as our plans progress. In the meantime, thank you again for your help and support.
Tuesday 17 March, 3pm
The situation around coronavirus is making all organisations re-think how they operate. We have been putting plans in place for a number of weeks, but the situation has escalated much quicker than anyone anticipated.
Following government guidelines
The guidelines from the government are that all employees in the UK should work from home, if they can. We immediately acted on this advice - please bear with us as we shape a new way of working – there is currently no indication how long we will need to work remotely for.
We know that many of you are already online and working – and we’d like to thank you for adapting so quickly.
Each day, we will let you know the priorities we need you to be aware of, or to act on.
Here are today’s priorities:
- Phone calls:
We are not taking phone calls from customers today. We're setting up alternative arrangements and expect to be able to answer customer calls shortly.
- Logging on remotely:
- We now have over 2,500 of the service logged on and working and as the day has gone on the numbers have been increasing as our capacity has been extended
- If you don’t have the authenticator app, we will send you a text message with advice on what to do
- The IT helpdesk is currently only taking calls about helping people get the authenticator app
- As more of us continue to get logged on, please also be patient if this takes time, or you have any issues – this will become easier as we increase our capacity.
Our ongoing priorities
Our priorities continue to be:
- To protect the wellbeing of our staff
- To continue to provide a service for our customers
Keeping you informed
It’s important we all stay connected, and we want to keep you up to date with the latest information. We will send daily updates to all our staff through:
- Senior managers – we will send daily email updates to all our senior managers, who will cascade messages to their managers and teams as appropriate.
- All staff – we will send updates as needed to all staff through:
- the ombudsman email addresses our intranet
- our intranet
- and, for now, this web page. Please make sure you check this page each day
- our staff helpline on 0800 3891179
- we will also use texts as needed
- Operational communication - your exec will be in touch with you about operational decisions and actions.
Your health and wellbeing
As we all settle into a new way of working, we know some of you will have concerns about your own health and also your family and friends. Please remember that there is always support on hand if you need to speak to someone or need advice.
We will continue to send updates and keep everyone informed of our decisions and actions. In the meantime, thank you again for your adaptability and outstanding team spirit; I know we will all continue to help and support each other.
Monday 16 March
- Following the government advice issued late this afternoon, we are asking all staff who can work from home tomorrow, Tuesday 17 March, to do so – including those who have our authenticator app and can use Citrix. You don’t need to book this through people portal.
- If you’re unable to work from home, please wait for further advice about the steps we are taking to increase homeworking. Please don’t come into our London or Coventry offices.
- However, if we need you to be in the office for essential tasks, then your manager will be in touch with you.
- Please keep in touch with your manager and await further information – which we will share with you as soon as possible.
- Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through all of this.