What leaders think
Greg Jackson, Founder & Chief Executive, Octopus Energy
Greg has founded a number of successful businesses, including e-commerce company C360, built HomeServe’s innovation business and is an angel investor in a wide range of tech start-ups. He also served as Director of several innovative businesses, including Zopa. Greg founded Octopus Energy in 2015. It uses technology to be highly efficient – empowering customers with a full digital experience, and then using the same systems to provide the highest standards of support to its customers by phone, email and chat. In the UK, Octopus now stands at 1.5 million customers, growing by 2500-3000 per day.
What challenge did you tackle and overcome in your business this week?
We’re constantly overcoming new challenges, but the most pressing one this week was probably the local lockdown in Leicester. Half of our operations staff are based there so we had to find a way to support them during this difficult time and make them feel comfortable continuing working from home.
Which ongoing business challenge is occupying your thoughts this week/month?
The coronavirus pandemic can have severe implications for individuals, but it also poses great challenges for businesses. We’ve been quite lucky compared to other companies and weren’t too heavily affected by this. But I’ve still been thinking a lot about how we can come out of this stronger as before – as a society but also as a business. And as restrictions are slowly lifted, I’ve also been thinking a lot about how we can make our staff as comfortable as possible returning to the office.
Best thing about working from home/remotely?
The best thing for me was to see how easy the transition for our team was. Our technology is cloud-based so working from home didn’t actually change much for us. Of course we’re missing hanging out together as a team, but our customer service metrics actually even improved with all of our staff working remotely.
Worst thing about working from home/remotely?
I’m the only one from our team who’s been going to the office everyday since lockdown started. But we have team members who have to juggle work and home schooling or live in a house with several housemates, where it’s loud and they can’t concentrate. This time has been incredibly stressful to many of our team members, which is why we’ve tried to make it as comfortable as possible for them by offering, for instance, kids entertainment programs
Best factual news source on Covid-19?
The BBC’s Covid-19 live blog has been great at curating all the most important news and breaking through the noise of every country and industry that’s been affected.
Who or what has inspired you this week? (They don’t need to be famous)
Rishi Sunak! He’s been a great help to people and businesses during Covid and his recent announcement of a £3bn plan to create thousands of “green-collar” jobs is the news we like to hear. If we go one step further and move the green taxes from electricity to gas, we could even create 100,000 jobs decarbonising heat.
Hector Bellerin! He’s pledged 3,000 trees for every game that Arsenal wins this season, along with the 3,000 we match him every time and the 3,000 Paddy Power donate whenever they lose… We’ve pledged 30,000 trees to be planted in the next year.
Best programme/film you watched on TV/streaming this week?
Vintage Voltage on Quest. I’m slightly biased given that we sponsor the programme but who wouldn’t love a proper classic car that doesn’t harm the environment?
Are you doing more or less exercise than a typical week when you commute and if more, what?
I’m still going into the office everyday. But I try to stay fit by cycling to the office as often as possible. That commute has become more pleasant now that there’s less traffic on the streets.
What are you consuming more of (that you should not be) now you are not in an office environment?
Fewer team members in the office actually means quite a lot more emails in my inbox. I’m definitely consuming more emails throughout the day!
Any words of wisdom?
Trust people. If you’re hiring the best and brightest employees, don’t bog them down in process and structure, give them space and opportunity to shine.