This has without a doubt been a stressful time for many payroll and HR professionals. In this blog series we talk to some of our clients to find out how they have been adjusting and taking care of themselves, while looking after everyone else’s wellbeing along the way…

In the second of our series we talk to Graham Pugh, Group Payroll Manager, AO World.

How has your role changed?

Payroll by its very nature brings its daily challenges and a day never pans out the way you plan it. My role as Group Payroll Manager encompasses a weekly payroll and several monthly payrolls across two different pay dates and a German payroll.

Much of my time has been spent on understanding the ever-changing regulations surrounding the Job Retention Scheme – we have approximately 10% of the workforce on Furlough now. Whilst also keeping up with the ‘normal’ April regulation changes. Along with the changing face of German payroll regulations. It’s not been dull, that’s for sure.

Face to face meetings and discussions have now morphed into Microsoft Teams video calls – unfortunately for those that have to see my face on the other end of the call!!

Keeping in contact with the Payroll Team is also a challenge as we are spread all over the North West, two of the team are expecting babies in the next couple of months so ensuring their safety is paramount. I also have two new members in the team that have started with us after lockdown so training has been, different, shall we say. Daily e-mails, screen sharing & calls are the norm now.


How do you look after your own wellbeing?

At the beginning of the pandemic I guess I didn’t look after my own wellbeing at all. Concentrating on the team and the new processes in place as we completed implementation of iHCM. I was also in self-isolation for a period as I had symptoms of Covid-19.

Mentally it was a struggle and I soon came to realise that my own wellbeing was equally as important as the rest of the team. Fortunately, my partner was invaluable in helping me get the work/life/lockdown balance right. I have taken up cycling again which has helped both my mental and physical fitness. Taking regular breaks away from staring at PC screens has been a valuable lesson too. The temptation is just to press on for hours at a time, but in a normal work situation you naturally take breaks away from your screens, be it in meetings or people coming to you with queries. So staring out of the window or going to make a brew, anything that gets you a 10 minute break is the new normal for me.


What has been uplifting about this experience that has kept you going?


The way that the country has pulled together to get behind fund raising events. ‘Celebrities’ posting things on social media from ways to keep fit to duets created at home. Not forgetting our amazing NHS workers and the selfless way that they have gone about caring for us as a nation. It shows how we can come together and support each other during times of crisis.

From a work point of view my team have been unbelievable from one day all being in the office, to the next we were all working from home, they have just got on with it and ensured that it’s business as usual and everyone is getting paid.