News | 13 April 2020
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Working for Wellington under lockdown

Council staff are having to think quickly and adapt to provide services during the lockdown - here are two examples of how they're getting the job done.

Operating under the lockdown is challenging for all organisations.

Answering the phones and responding to emails and ‘Fix It’ requests at Wellington City Council is a 24/7 job, and no one knows this better than daytime Contact Centre Team Leader Enisha Kilkelly.

“Besides the website and Facebook, we are the first point of contact for people contacting the Council,” says the mother-of-three who has been working at the WCC Contact Centre for six years.

Enisha says her team of customer service representatives (CSRs) take a variety of calls, ranging from queries relating to dogs, rates, and community services, to matters including parking, building, housing, and infrastructure.

She says before the Covid-19 lockdown, the Contact Centre’s general line was the busiest, followed by calls relating to parking and building.

“But at the moment, those are our quietest lines. Usually we take up to 1000 calls a day. On a normal day we’ll have up to 13 CSRs on the line. But what’s happened is our call volume has reduced because there are less services operating at the moment, so we’ve had to change the way we work – every day is changing, and we are constantly adapting.”

Contact Centre Team Leader Enisha Kilkelly in her home office.

All Contact Centre staff are having to keep up with the latest information and on-going developing changes, while also navigating the various systems they use to do their job as they acclimatise to working from home. 

On top of this, some CSRs are helping Council’s IT department deal with queries from within the organisation.

Enisha says while the number of people calling Council has reduced, the pressure on her staff hasn’t.

“Now the conversations are harder, and everyday they’re changing. At the moment we’ve got people calling because they need emergency housing and assistance in getting food and emergency supplies. There’s also concerned ratepayers who have financial problems and can’t afford to pay their rates.

“We have people upset at not being able to recycle and because we can’t take action with their noise complaints. We’re taking calls from people who can’t get through to the 105 police number, wanting to know what to do if people are breaching lockdown rules.”

Enisha says her team understands this is a hard time for everyone, and they are making a concerted effort to be empathetic with all who are calling their lines.

Ensuring the wellbeing of her own staff is a priority too. Because of the difficulty working from home both physically and mentally, Enisha has shortened rostered times on the phones.

Delivering a consent just in time

Before Chemist Warehouse on Lambton Quay could open, they needed a Certificate for Public Use from Council. 

Normally a simple process, the impact of Covid-19 meant that all on-site building inspections ceased, and the Consents admin team was working remotely; making processing the application far more difficult.

“We had to make a quick decision on the best role we could play, while still keeping our staff safe out on site,” said Ryan Cameron, Team Leader Compliance.

Review Inspections Officer Josh Harding promptly established what the pharmacy would need to open for business and worked with the builder and owner to achieve it. The team were able to issue the necessary consents just in time.

Josh Harding in his home office.

“Good communication prior to the inspection is always crucial to achieve a positive outcome for everyone,” he says.

“This is a great example of our team’s resilience. I’m really proud of how we were able to help and support each other to achieve a great result, despite all the complications going on.

“The size of this chemist is huge and it will service a lot of people in the coming weeks. Given it’s an essential service, everyone involved should be proud they were able to help so many Wellingtonians,” says Josh.