Interview with Hinan Qureshi

We’ve all had to adapt to a new way of living and working as Covid-19 takes us through a rollercoaster of a year. Hinan Qureshi, Technical Support Team Leader at Lolly, has seen his role evolve throughout the pandemic as he steps up to support customers and his colleagues…including setting up a stockroom in his living room!

Can you describe your role at Lolly? Has this changed because of Covid-19?

My role at Lolly has always been quite broad, covering a range of tasks and responsibilities, but when the pandemic hit it expanded quite considerably. 

Originally my position as Technical Support Team Leader involved general support handling, first and second support, orders, provisioning, In House IT and stock swap out.

In March, when lockdown began, our team moved from office to home working. A few of my colleagues were furloughed as business was quieter when everything first shut down. I had to pick up a larger range of tasks to cover the evolving needs and demands of customers and the company. These included customer and sales support, admin tasks, such as filling in sales forms. 

What changes have you had to make in the day to day running of your job during the pandemic?

The change from being in the office every day, to working from home, has been quite a big adjustment. In some ways it’s been great. I no longer have to commute, so I can wake up at 7:30am, rather than 6. We all work really efficiently from home as everything has to be agreed and discussed in scheduled meetings that have a limited time. There are less distractions. However, not being able to just have a quick chat with someone to solve a problem is frustrating and I miss the social aspect of the office. 

Because we are a tech company anyway a lot of our processes were already set up to be done remotely, so the new way of working didn’t prove much of a challenge. We already offer remote support for our customers’ software. I also normally film product demonstrations from the office for customers and send via Email, MailbigFile, WhatsApp, etc.., so I just had to find a way of doing that from home.

This meant I had to keep stock at home to be able to do these demos. Provisioning was hard as I had to go to the office to pick up stock for installs, so instead I ended up setting up a mini office at home, with my garage and part of my living room converted to a stock room! This kept everything safe and fully operational.

How has the situation evolved over the pandemic?

At the beginning it was very quiet. However, business has picked up since the summer. As our R&D team stayed off furlough they kept innovating and creating developments to support hospitality businesses which meant we were ready to meet enquiries for Covid-19 and future-ready solutions.

Recently the Lolly offices moved from London to Essex. We have a schedule and the Lolly team now rotates working in the new, bigger offices with home working to keep it Covid secure. I go in a couple of days a week to pick up stock and work from the office.

What projects are you working on?

I’ve worked on two big project installations over the past couple of months and many other smaller projects.

We are seeing high demand and enquiries now for self-serve, payment updates and pre-order to support Covid-19 social distancing and the ever evolving situation. Payment integration is key for many businesses and a popular choice for investment. Businesses are trying to limit interactions with customers and want to upgrade card machines to be more integrated with existing systems. Having two card machines – one for customers and one for staff allows for less touch point contact.

The sectors we serve are changing, we’ve lost some office orders, but because of our fully integrated, bespoke systems we have picked up some large corporate catering business, stadia and many in the fast food sector. 

How are customers handling installs?

Site visits are very different to before, but customers have been really effective with their Covid-19 regulations. These include temperature checks, handwashing on entrance to site, forms, and one way systems. Demonstrations are also distanced.

Delays and short notice installs are inevitable during this uncertain time. As a team we have had to be really flexible, and work efficiently to get stock in on time and produce solutions in short time frame, as well as adapt to cancellations and delays.  

Have you faced any challenges working differently during the pandemic? How did you deal with these?

After a couple of weeks I was used to the new way of working/structure. I’ve developed ways of working from home, but I sometimes find it hard to switch off. I try to step away from the laptop for calls and take short breaks throughout the day. In the office I didn’t really do this, I would often just keep working through and then realise everyone was leaving for the day, but there were more interactions to break up staring at a screen! At home there is no marker of the end of the day, so sometimes at first I would work past the end of day and then look at the clock and realise how much time had passed.

It was challenging at times to learn new tasks, particularly admin, which isn’t my favourite! However, it’s been good to gain new knowledge and experience.

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