Bdaily Festive Focus 2020: Newcastle Strategic Solutions' Taya Allen is "very positive" that next year will be better
For the last installment of Bdaily’s Festive Focus, we spoke to Taya Allen, head of digital at Newcastle Strategic Solutions about the importance of flexibility, adapting to new ways of working and establishing new relationships.
How has 2020 changed the way that you live, work, and think?
“In a professional sense, the pandemic has taught me that flexibility is extremely important for colleagues, and that a rigid 9-5 may not work for everyone.
“The working from home model has enabled colleagues to develop an easier work life balance, which is essential - and I feel flexibility is necessary to consider in organisations post-Covid.
“Personally, I’ve learnt that balance is essential! It’s so important to take note of your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around you.
“Lockdown has really deepened my overall gratitude in life, and has taught me to enjoy the smaller things, and to always have appreciation - especially during unprecedented times.”
What has been your single biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
“One of the key challenges in which I am sure others will agree is adapting to a new way of working.
“The transition from predominantly office working to working from home was very quick - and it was essential that my teams who were used to working collaboratively and face to face had the right tools to continue to conduct their roles effectively.
“For example, within the UX team it’s essential the team are able to still conduct valuable usability testing against our Digital products, and engage seamlessly with our end users remotely.
“The utilisation of new tools and refining our ways of working has ultimately been a positive shift as it enables our flexibility for the future.”
What has been the biggest unexpected positive to come out of this year?
“Just before the pandemic hit, I’d been working on identifying key capabilities and teams required to develop my digital department further.
“I had believed that when we entered into this period of change that it would possibly hinder the market and make hiring and recruiting quite challenging - however, during the pandemic I was still able to recruit key roles into digital and grow my teams, which has built our capabilities and enabled us to continue and succeed in our 2020 plans within Newcastle Strategic Solutions.
“I’ve also been incredibly proud of the way Newcastle Building Society as a whole has responded to the pandemic by increasing the support we provide to our communities.
“We’ve committed over £1.5m in funding to our communities in 2020 which is amazing, and this is helping some of the most vulnerable people who have been seriously impacted by Covid.
“We’ve also established new partnerships with fantastic organisations like Newcastle United Foundation and I’ve been impressed by my incredible group of colleagues who have consistently done so much for their communities this year – whether that’s volunteering or fundraising, it really make a difference.
“On a personal level, my partner and I moved house which is very exciting - we didn’t think it would happen given the housing market being on hold for a big chunk of the year!”
What does your ideal Christmas look like?
“This year will most certainly be a bit different to most, but I am so grateful we will still be able to spend time with family; my ideal Christmas would be filled with seeing both friends and family, playing games, eating lots of good food and drinking lots of Prosecco!”
How do you think people and businesses can support each other during 2020’s festive season?
“Colleagues, friends and family are all very used to Christmas parties, lots of celebration and face to face interaction during the festive season.
“Christmas is a really important time, and having that interaction removed could be quite challenging for some.
“It’s essential we’re continuing to check in on not just our loved ones regularly, but our colleagues as well.
“Given that Christmas may not be as busy this year socially, I think businesses could make use of all of the tools we have today to conduct virtual get-togethers, discussions, webinars or even virtual networking events to keep the social aspects going.
“It has been a challenging year for businesses, and many businesses are now further embracing technology to serve their customers, therefore we should continue to shop local and support them.”
What does 2021 look like for you and your business?
“I am very positive that 2021 will bring us all a better year! As an organisation, Newcastle Building Society will continue to support our customers and communities, and I’m sure we’ll play our role in driving the recovery of the region.
“For my digital team within Newcastle Strategic Solutions, there’s certainly lots to do in 2021! We’ve set out to deliver some really exciting digital initiatives - we also have lots of activity within technology and IT.
“Embedding new capabilities, their practises and our ways of working seamlessly will be integral to our success.”
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