Ricardo Rosado, Zzoomm installation team

What is your role in maintaining the network and supporting customers during COVID-19?

We are installing Zzoomm Full Fibre Broadband to residents of Henley-on-Thames. During the COVID-19 outbreak, staying connected to work, colleagues, friends and family are more important than ever and as key workers, we continue to offer our fast efficient services to customers. Henley-on-Thames traditionally has relied on traditional copper infrastructure and with added demands on this infrastructure, people need faster and more robust broadband services.

Has your role changed since the lockdown? If so, how?

The role hasn’t changed in that we continue to offer amazing installations, work with our customers to develop their service as they would like. However, we do plan further, asking installations about their current situation such as if they have individuals isolating.
All staff have their temperatures checked and logged before going to their work environments. Anyone who does not have a logged temperature check will not be allowed to work that day. Anyone who registers a temperature above 37.8C (100.4F) will be sent home to self-isolate and will not be allowed to return to work until after the they have taken a test that returns a negative result, after following the guideline self-isolation period of 14 days.
Before installation, our team ask a couple of questions:
1. Has anyone in your home been diagnosed with COVID-19?
2. Has anyone in your home been asked to self-isolate?
3. Is anyone in your home suffering from flu-like symptoms?
If the answer’s YES, we’ll make sure we assess the risk fully and agree on a suitable way forward.
If the answer is NO, we can go ahead with the planned installation.
So really it comes down to planning and strategy which allows us to perform to our best within this social distancing situation.

Why do you think it is important that you continue to work during COVID-19?

As most broadband infrastructure is based on copper infrastructure we have already seen the home working demand for data stress the UK system.
As data transfer is key to working from home, connecting with friends and family and relaxing, a fast robust connection, through full-fibre broadband is a critical lifeline to the outside world for now and for the future.

What do you find most difficult about working during the lockdown?

I would say it would be the social distancing while agreeing with the customers the works to be done. Our installations are bespoke designs, installing two services often in different parts of the house. The PPE can restrict movement at times but is necessary so we have become adept at moving within its confinements. It's how we adapt to the situation that counts the most to complete a fantastic job.
Some customers do like to ‘oversee’ what you are doing, so we need to remind them of keeping the distance, but most are fine after the initial consultation. The fact that we do discuss COVID-19 and our precautions with them in the pre-call or when we arrive at the property shows that we care for both our customers and employees.

Can you tell us about your proudest moment while working during the lockdown?

Probably I would say the fact we are making a difference by supporting everyone working and studying from home at this difficult time as well as connecting to family and friends.
Knowing we are keeping them online with an amazing full-fibre broadband connection and that customers are grateful for what we are providing and getting the most out of a difficult scenario. Knowing that the UK values our effort as key workers in the community is very satisfying.

Has the response you receive from the public changed since the lockdown?

I don't think the response changed dramatically, but I believe they have a better understanding of the benefits of Zzoomm full-fibre and some are grateful for receiving this connection at this time. Many customers also appreciate the fact that we still go out and install it for them, as some ISPs’ are not doing providing new connections or installations at the moment.
In the street, there has been confusion and the lack of clear government guidelines as to who key workers are and why they are categorised as key workers has created less favourable responses. This can also be seen in online discussions. However, this comes from a place of misunderstanding and if would be much more beneficial to have had clear directives indicated by the government at the beginning.
However, we do feel that more people understand the value of our hard-working contribution in the long run.