Novus Blog

Dani Chose Novus

DANI CHOSE NOVUS

  16 OCTOBER, 2018      CAREERS , CORE VALUES
Dani Robert Wrights tells us why she joined Novus when she was looking for progression… I had previously worked for a larger corporate business, where I felt like a number. My line manager manged so many people you wouldn’t have been surprised if they didn’t recognise you when they saw you. At the end of my time at my previous employment I did some training towards becoming a site supervisor however when I left I didn’t have the experience to go for this role straight away. I came to Novus looking for progression in February 2017. I wanted a business to invest time and effort into me. I’m not a job hopper so wanted to make sure this move was the right one. As soon as I met the team I knew things would be different at Novus. Since joining Novus I’ve developed much faster than I expected to. Joining Novus as a Contract Liaison Officer (CLO) I joined Novus as a Contract Liaison Officer (CLO) where my role was to keep communications flowing between site teams, clients and office colleagues. A big part of the role was customer communication – lettering procedures, satisfaction surveys, pre-entry information, and engagement sessions to ensure that all of our customers were kept informed throughout the work. Refurbishment and Decoration Work The majority of my work was with residents of housing associations, councils and care homes where we were carrying out cyclical decoration or kitchen and bathroom refurbs.  My role meant I came into contact with lots of different people and no two days were ever the same – I could spend days in the office or equally I could have been visiting three different sites in a day.  I liked the variety the job gave me, and it definitely kept me busy! Social Value Projects Part of Contract Liaison Officer role was to head up social value projects.  I’ve organised a wide variety of events from refurbishing community spaces, to teaching people with learning difficulties painting skills whilst decorating an internal space for them to making donations.   In my new role as Site Supervisor I have had the exciting challenge of supervising the Big 5 Project in Birmingham but from a different perspective. Now I am responsible for co-ordinating the works, making sure we stick to programme and stay within the budget, as well as ensuring my colleagues health and safety remains at the forefront of everything we do. The Novus Difference What makes Novus different is the close working relationships.  The directors visit and they know you by name, which makes you feel like a valued part of the team. I also have a strong support network of colleagues around me.  There’s always someone you can direct questions to. It’s no surprise to me that when people come, they stay. If you are looking for a company where you can progress, like Dani was, why not look through our current vacancies.  
BITC Education Symposium

BITC EDUCATION SYMPOSIUM

  04 OCTOBER, 2018      CORE VALUES , CSR , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Our Marketing Manager, Sophie Seddon discloses her top tips for businesses and schools to work together successfully. “I was invited to speak at the Education Symposium hosted by Goldman Sachs on Wednesday 26th September.  This was organised by Business in The Community to encourage and advise other schools and businesses to partner as the benefits are outstanding.” The History of Novus’ Partnership with BITC 5 years ago, we were approached by BITC and The Business Class to partner with a school in Stoke–on-Trent who were going into special measures.  With no hesitation we agreed to work with them to help them through a very difficult time.  We saw an opportunity to get closer to the community we work in, but more importantly we identified an opportunity to work with potential future employees. After 5 years of working with Thistley Hough we have carried out over 100 projects including CV workshops, mentoring, a scholarship programme, donated bespoke school books, built allotments, created a school bank and set up a bank account for every child, and the list goes on.  You can read more about our partnership here. Top Tips for Sustainable Relationships between Schools and Businesses After a very successful partnership these are my top tips for schools and businesses to create a sustainable relationship that really works: Set clear, simple objectives that are easy for everyone to understand including the pupils, parents, teachers and employees. Empower employees to design and own projects and give them the authority to see them through. Be open and honest.  If something isn’t working speak up and move on. Innovate.  Create innovative projects that are interesting for everyone to be involved in. Don’t make excuses!  We are all very busy people and have our day jobs but take accountability and get the job done! Have fun!  It has been a fantastic 5 years for us all and we have had so much fun along the way, so enjoy it!
How Eagle-eyed Contractors Can Help Landlords

HOW EAGLE-EYED CONTRACTORS CAN HELP LANDLORDS

  13 JULY, 2018      CSR , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Kevin Rhone, head of social value at Novus, explains why housing associations can glean new insights from contractors working in their communities and use them for more than completing building works. The social housing sector faces unending challenges. Not only are they tasked with regenerating communities, pressured to provide high quality homes and services, and challenged to increase their build rates, they’re also looked to as a key stakeholder in ensuring the safety and security of people in their communities. Having eyes and ears on the ground in these communities to make sure customers are safe and well is a bank-breaking investment, however. This is particularly true of national organisations borne of the spate of M&A activity in recent years. Monitoring communities more deeply than they’re obligated to do is almost impossible over their geographic footprints. Particularly since, for these organisations, huge amounts of capital have to be spent solely on maintaining stock. However, many RPs are missing an opportunity. They’re not using contractors’ insights, yet these businesses can offer a wealth of understanding about local communities. Construction and Maintenance Teams’ Positive Impact Of course, customer care officers can’t be everywhere at once. Construction and maintenance teams interact with housing associations’ customers every day. They see it all first hand and can be friendly faces on estates while also helping associations to identify solutions to regular issues. Many on-site professionals are keen to engage. They aren’t simply there to fix and repair homes, they build relationships with communities and in some cases, can be vulnerable people’s most frequent visitor while they’re around. They will regularly help elderly residents with their shopping and can be the first to discover if they’ve had an injury. Housing associations can also ask these teams to be vigilant for signs of violence and abuse and can ask them to keep their eyes open in areas where there are suspicions of drug use. While, yes, any responsible person would report illegal activity, contractors can help further by identifying trends too – how or why certain issues may be cropping up frequently. Using them in this way can help housing associations think up new ideas of how they might be better addressed. CSR Programmes It’s not just about pointing out the problems too. Many contractors have CSR programmes and housing associations could also use these to proactively address challenges in their communities. We run a national CSR programme called Changing Lives. So far, we’ve changed over 33,000 lives since 2015 through community projects that provide work opportunities or skills development or regenerate certain areas to help improve aspirations. One of our projects in the last year saw us work with a national housing association to provide temporary accommodation for homeless young families in Sheffield, for example. Advice for Landlords Landlords can do this by opening the channels of communication. Contractors and their on-site teams can provide regular updates or join team meetings to discuss issues on estates. They can also work in conjunction with customer care teams during their day-to-day work too, offering opinions, advice and useful context before officers contact residents. Contractors are a resource often under-used in this respect. However, landlords could not only get a better understanding of the real issues in their estates, but get the insight needed to help them solve them, by involving the people who are in their communities every day.
A day in the life of Michelle, our Helpdesk supervisor

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MICHELLE, OUR HELPDESK SUPERVISOR

  05 JUNE, 2018      INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
It’s a bright mid-May morning at Novus Scotland’s Bathgate office and Michelle has just come back on shift.   Michelle and her team of eight coordinate the responsive repairs of about 15,000 properties across Scotland, scheduling some fifty maintenance operatives to fix a whole range of resident-reported problems ranging from blocked toilets to broken garden fences. Michelle first checks the e-mail from the afterhours Helpdesk to see how her last job of the previous evening has progressed. Michelle is proud that Novus provide a 24-hour continuous service to help the residents with their most pressing maintenance issues, but sees that this plumbing job has not yet been fixed due to some sensitive safety considerations preventing Neil - the maintenance operative - from visiting the property alone.   After fully understating these concerns, Michelle contacted her Housing Association customer and arranged for Neil to be accompanied on his visit. Using the Impact Response workforce management system on-line job scheduling system, Michelle arranges for Neil to meet his Housing Association “chaperone” at 10:00am so the job could be completed. All the information he needs is automatically routed to Neil’s handheld Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) allowing him to see all necessary job details then record his arrival time at site, hours on task and capture the resident’s satisfaction with the finished job. Satisfied that the job had now been scheduled, Michelle returned to the other outstanding jobs across Scotland.  By querying the Impact Response system, she determined that twenty eight new jobs had been entered into the system - either by residents calling in, or directly by the Housing Association customers.  Michelle sorted these jobs by region and distributed them to her team for scheduling.   Michelle then got down to allocating the open jobs in her region to maintenance operatives.  She drew on her knowledge of the local area including traffic conditions during the day and of which types of repair an operative is qualified to handle.  This also involves optimising the route between jobs to ensure that each operative is busy but can make each appointment in the scheduled time window.  Michelle allocates operatives by postcode and has several printed maps of her coverage area to make this possible.   As Michelle grabs an early coffee she reflects on her morning so far.  She is delighted to have got the sensitive plumbing job underway and pleased that all the reactive repair works are being scheduled by her team.  Michelle knows how critical her team is to maintaining the resident’s quality of life, whilst ensuring that the Novus team are used to best effect to fulfil the contractual commitments.
PRESS OFFICE
Sophie Seddon-Hall
Telephone: 07973 345873
Email: sophie.seddon@novussolutions.co.uk
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