How Saga teams have worked through the coronavirus crisis

If you’ve spoken to our phone teams over the past few weeks, we’re sure you’ll have experienced the same attentive service you’ve come to expect.

It’s been business as usual for most at Saga, but with a lot more going on behind the scenes…

More than 3,000 Saga colleagues have been safely and successfully working from home for a couple of months now. Some are enjoying being set up in their own environments, while others can’t wait to get back to their offices. Many find they’re being more productive, in contrast to those who are experiencing more distractions. But one thing all our Saga colleagues have in common is that they’re missing their close workmates, which is why they’re making creative efforts to stay connected while working many miles apart.

How we’ve adapted to working from home

One team starts each day with a motivational tune, played from the substantial record collection of their team leader. Morning meetings now take place online, with imaginative headgear and amusing glasses being a popular way to make sure everyone starts the day with a smile on their face. Social breaks are also encouraged, and teams take time out for ‘a natter and a cuppa’, a game of virtual bingo or a lunchtime ‘pub’ quiz.

Some colleagues have had to take extra measures to ensure their home life doesn’t encroach on their conversations with customers, such as putting up a door sign politely reminding children that ‘Dad is talking to customers… Go and ask Mum’. One mum had to pretend to be a hungry dinosaur to chase off her 6-year-old son who crept up behind her and roared into her headset while she was making recordings of Saga’s new phoneline opening hours. And a senior member of the Saga Insurance team had to conduct a call with a colleague who was having to hide in a bush at the end of their garden to get away from the kids. Babies, dogs, cats and even snakes have also been both welcome distractions and, at times, overly willing participants for Saga colleagues working from home.

Helping local initiatives and national charities

Saga’s charitable efforts have increased during the coronavirus crisis. Colleagues have embraced the 2.6 challenge by walking, running and cycling to raise money for NHS Charities Together and Mind. One determined group has even done a ‘plank’ challenge, which involved holding this demanding pilates pose for 2.6 minutes to raise money for Demelza Hospice Care For Children.

Unfortunately, some of our colleagues have been furloughed, but many of them have signed up to the Saga Community Ambassador programme. Launched in April, the programme matches people with volunteering opportunities close to home in roles such as administration and IT support, gardening and maintenance, and – one of the things we’re best at – telephone support. Some colleagues – both furloughed and full-time workers – have been carrying out wellness calls for Age UK to check local residents have the food and medicine they need, and, as one volunteer put it, “to be a friendly voice on the phone at a time when they are feeling very isolated.”

With our main base in Folkestone, Saga has also been supporting a local initiative called Together 4 Dover, helping residents with shopping deliveries and prescription pick-ups as well as distributing hot food supplied by a local hotel to vulnerable and homeless members of the community.

Food has also been donated from our docked cruise ships, and local residents have witnessed our vessels lighting up in support of the NHS and VE Day. Our crews can’t wait to welcome guests back on board Spirit of Discovery in Dover as soon as it’s safe to do so and onto her new sister ship, Spirit of Adventure, later this year.

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Team natter and a cuppa virtual catch up

Left half of image is a yellow Labrador wearing a call centre headset, right half of image is a tabby cat reclining next to an open laptop