Worcestershire firm truly rises to the challenge of adapting staff working to Covid-19

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An innovative Worcestershire tech firm has set a fantastic example to other businesses struggling to adapt staff working practices to meet the challenges of Covid-19.

IT software company Payara Services Ltd, which is based at Malvern Hills Science Park, has worked with staff and clients based across the world since it was formed in 2016.

As coronavirus lockdown measures took hold, many workplaces changed almost overnight leaving employees at risk of feeling isolated.

But Payara set about ensuring its staff were backed by measures designed to foster a work culture based on shared values and support.

The company adapted the way it expected its employees to work, to ensure its Malvern Hills Science Park home is available to the next generation of employees joining the company.

A ‘Remote First’ culture was established as recruitment saw Payara extend its search throughout the county and globally with staff now also based in Japan and the UK.

Staff can work at the Malvern office if they want to, and since lockdown measures have eased the company has changed the way it has used its science park base.

Employees, such as degree apprentices, have returned to the office which has been reconfigured for social distancing.

Payara now calls the centre its ‘Training Hub’ where a closer interaction between apprentices, trainees and supervisors can take place, in addition to courses or meetings that cannot be done remotely.

It established Operation Nightfish, aimed at team bonding and support after work, especially to help staff who lived alone or in isolated communities during lockdown to avoid a detrimental effect on their mental health and wellbeing.

Payara also launched the C19 Heart Initiative – where staff would be paid for doing charity work during the pandemic to create a positive contribution to society which would bring lasting benefits to their work.

The firm increased daily contact with the leadership teams alongside additional workplace surveys to assess feedback.

Payara HR and Operations Manager Julia Millidge said: “I feel that we were ahead of the curve as a Worcestershire-based global tech company.

“During the pandemic we have excelled at engaging with and supporting our staff and going forward more companies will need to find new ways of working.”

Support is also available for companies in the county through a “Here 2 Help Business” programme launched by Worcestershire County Council in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is a £3 million programme designed to assist local Worcestershire businesses to recover, adapt, develop and support future resilience as lockdown measures reduce.

Councillor Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economy and Infrastructure, said: “Payara is a shining example of how Worcestershire businesses have led the way in emerging from the pandemic with a bright future ahead of them.

“Worcestershire prides itself as being home to some of the world’s leading firms such as Worcester Bosch and Morgan Motor Company.

“Through our Here 2 Help Business programme we want firms which have felt the impact of the lockdown to seek support and advice to ensure they too can thrive.”