Octopus Energy and the pandemic
As an energy company, we play a critical role in keeping the lights and heating on when it’s more important than ever to have reliable power at home. During the first lockdown, we were the only energy company answering phones as normal to support customers, and our dedication hasn’t changed.
Two years into the COVID-19 outbreak, and several variants later, here’s everything you need to know about Octopus Energy’s pandemic response. From our safety measures at in-person visits to how to access extra support if you’re struggling to pay, info on how we’re looking after our team, and other handy resources.
How we’ve been working during the pandemic
Since the pandemic began, we’ve been quick to adapt. We were the only energy company answering phones as normal when we first went into lockdown, and we’ve been operating as normal ever since.
Need help from Octopus?
Our phone lines are open 9am til 5pm, Monday to Thursday (and 9am til 4pm on Fridays) and digital customer service is still available via email and social media, 8am til 10pm, seven days a week.
For our contact info, current email response times, top blogs and FAQs, and access to your online account...
The importance of being agile in a crisis
Service at Octopus remains strong because no matter what, we can be flexible. As a tech-based energy supplier, we’ve built Octopus Energy to be adaptable. Our cutting edge technology, our systems, the way we organise our teams, and our working habits – have all been designed to allow us to surmount a wide range of hurdles, be that travel disruption, internet outages, hacking, or in this case – COVID 19.
Our tech means that all our team members need are a laptop and a headset. They can log onto the internet and immediately begin supporting customers by phone or email, carrying out all the same support functionality as they can in the office.
This means we've kept up excellent, reliable customer service throughout the pandemic. With the current energy crisis leading to high bills and 20+ other suppliers going bust, we're busier than ever. We're here if you need us, but before you reach out to our team, you might like to see if your site has the answer.
There’s lots you can do with your online account, including submitting meter readings, updating your Direct Debit details, or even telling us you’re moving house.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for, here’s how you can get in touch with us.
Support for customers affected by the pandemic or in financial hardship
We know that times have been incredibly hard. Please, please get in contact with us if you’re struggling with your bills. There are many ways we can help.
We set up the Octo Assist Fund in November 2021 as part of our campaign to help those worried about paying for their energy during this Winter. If you're an Octopus customer, you can access our Financial Support form here – a quick and simple online tool which asks you a series of questions about your financial situation. We can offer a number of support options based on circumstances and need, including access to existing schemes, monetary support from the fund, electric blankets, or a loan of a thermal imagery camera to find heat leaks at home. We've also written at length about how we're doing everything we can to keep prices as low as possible.
If you have prepayment meters...
Most top-up locations (like supermarkets and corner shops) have remained open to help you top up as normal. Power is a necessity, so it will always be fine to leave your home to top up – though you could top up more than usual in one go if you want to avoid unnecessary trips outside. Find your local top-up spots at www.paypoint.com.
If you can’t top up for any reason, (for example, if you have COVID and can’t leave the house), we recommend asking friends, family or neighbours to top up for you as a first port of call. If this isn’t possible just get in touch and we’ll help.
For more information on topping up in the current circumstances, head over to Citizen's Advice. There's also more advice on using prepayment with Octopus, including information on emergency credit and friend credit hours in our Prepayment FAQs
Changes to home visits (like meter readings and engineer appointments)
We're currently able to continue with in-person work like meter installations, taking meter readings and door-to-door sales, but you can of course refuse any of these visits if you’re shielding.
Regular testing, additional training and equipment has been provided to all Octopus team members who do in-person work, to ensure they take necessary precautions and are protected.
Where we need to provide emergency services to a customer who is in isolation or may have been exposed, we will absolutely still be doing this but have additional processes to follow.
Our engineers are installing smart meters across the UK with extensive special safety training and equipment detailed here.
The pandemic has created a big backlog of appointments for us, meaning in some cases, delays for customers hoping to get a speedy appointment. We've written about the challenges of rolling smart meters out during Covid-19 here, and you can request one here – we're prioritising (wherever possible) customers whose appointments were delayed by Covid-19 or whose installations are urgent.
Our meter readers are working through their regular quarterly visits as normal, taking vital readings to help make sure our customers' bills are accurate and up to date.
Our contractors follow extensive safety guidance, and we’ll always email you to let you know when someone’s popping round.
As always, you can submit readings online.
Our in-person sales teams
Our door-to-door teams will still be out and about, but will be focusing on having helpful and friendly conversations about energy, answering any questions and concerns customers might have. Being an Octopus Brand Ambassadors is about far more than just helping customers switch!
We've written about why we think it's really important to make our team available to people (when it's safe to do so), and detailed their extensive safety measures, on our information blog about Octopus face-to-face sales.
Supporting our team
Octopus Energy employs over 1,000 people across England, Scotland and Wales, the majority in roles directly looking after customers, and we’ve been watching the updates on Covid-19 with as much focus and concern as the rest of the UK.
Since all our team need to work is a laptop and a headset, we've all been able to pivot between working from home and the office seamlessly throughout the pandemic based on government guidance, new variants cropping up etc.
At the beginning of 2022, our people are largely doing a flexible mix of both remote and office work based on what works best for them.
We've worked hard to made that work as easy and safe throughout. We were one of the first businesses to work with the UK government to offer daily Covid testing in all our sites across the UK, and we ensure all offices are deep cleaned regularly and well-stocked with everything from hand sanitiser to anti-bac wipes and even Octopus face masks. Naturally our team who do in-person work (like meter engineers) have free access to excellent PPE to keep themselves and our customers safe while carrying out crucial work.
From the start of the UK's first lockdown, we also paid our entire team a regular working from home allowance to ensure they can make their setup as comfortable as possible.
On top of the already deeply-forged online social communities we have at Octopus as a digital, global company, we've done lots to keep spirits up and help people transitioning to home working. Everything from regular Zoom stand-up comedy on a Friday night to weekly Zoom Yoga. Parents with kids at home were able to access iPads to help keep little ones entertained and educated, and we actually set up an entire children's entertainment programme, OctoKids: sending weekly activity packs and hosting regular Zoom sessions with kids entertainers.
More from the Octo-verse on COVID-19
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