Woman working on a laptop in front of a window - used for the National Grid story 'Looking after our people in uncertain times'

Looking after our people in uncertain times

Nicola Maloney joined National Grid expecting to stay for a six-month stint; 17 years on, she’s now Senior Human Resources Business Partner for Gas Transmission. She helps the business make the right decisions when it comes to our people, be it about training, wellbeing support or advice on all aspects of employment. Read on to find out how she’s working to look after the team’s needs amidst the ‘new normal’ of the coronavirus crisis.

Portrait photo of Nicola Maloney

Nicola works in Human Resources for the Gas Transmission area of our business, which is central to ensuring Britain’s gas is available when and where it’s needed. Her job is all about making sure that her colleagues within Gas Transmission have whatever they need to do their jobs and more. It’s a varied role and the coronavirus crisis has brought new challenges to it.

Six months became seventeen years (and counting)

I joined National Grid on a six-month contract, but have ended up staying 17 years so far. I touch on all aspects of Human Resources, including helping people to perform as well as possible, making sure we recruit the best people into the team and developing our teams to help them thrive. It’s about having the right people in the right place at the right time, with the right capabilities to do their jobs. Throughout my career at National Grid, I’ve been lucky to take on different jobs. However, what I really love about my current role is that I get to work closely with Gas Transmission, helping our people to keep the nation’s gas flowing safely and reliably.

New situation, new challenges

In recent weeks, our focus has been very much on our people’s wellbeing and safety. Our control rooms are especially crucial and we’ve been sharing ideas and ‘best practice’ between those involved in control rooms in other parts of National Grid too.

We now have some teams who are living on site – that’s completely new. It’s all carefully managed and we’ve worked closely with our unions to get this right. We set up the arrangements in a matter of weeks, whereas normally this might have taken months. Our property team’s efforts with this were incredible.

Working from home doesn’t have to be second best

Even all working separately in our homes, I’ve been amazed at how much we’ve got done. At the moment, we’re holding daily check-ins with everyone in the team and among the senior management. Things have evolved so quickly and this keeps us on the same page. The rapid change to working remotely hasn’t meant we’re less of a team or less efficient.

At the same time, we’re really aware that everyone has different circumstances at home; so, we’re making sure our managers are talking to their teams, thinking through what others are handling and even just having a FaceTime and a cup of tea together to catch up.

Team bonding needn’t stop

We might not be in the office, but we can still feel like a team. We’ve even been having a weekly quiz on Wednesdays and ‘socials’, both within HR and with the Gas Transmission senior managers. Taking the time to stop and have a bit of a laugh really helps people and lightens the mood. A good dose of humour is always important, but especially now.

Managing teams amidst this new normal

Now things have settled down a little, it’s all about supporting our people in this ‘new normal’. Looking ahead, we’re starting to think about which elements of our new ways of working we want to keep and how we can ensure the team eventually returns to the workplace safely and feeling confident. It’s early days but we’ll meet the new challenges and keep our people at the heart of what we do.