Life during lockdown: the short journey into lockdown and the long road out
SFHA associate blog.
By Sandy MacGregor, Regional Manager Scotland at energystore.
To say that the current situation is a big step into the unknown is an understatement. We are in unprecedented times, and, like all businesses, we have, very quickly, had to adapt to the new world and a new way of working.
As lockdown was approaching, we had started to prepare our manufacturing facilities to adopt social distancing practices and add in additional hand washing facilities. Our goal, for the company, was to keep our doors open as long as possible to service our customers’ needs, but this needed to be completed in a way that was safe for our own members of staff. Lockdown, however, came swiftly into force, meaning that our customers were brought to a grinding halt quicker, and more completely, than had been initially anticipated.
While the move into lockdown had been a short journey, it was clear that the journey out was going to be much longer. What made the lockdown so challenging for us, as a business, other than the obvious drop in revenue, was the lack of clarity on when things would start moving again. This clarity was, unfortunately, not there to be given, as no one really knew, but trying to prepare for the exit from lockdown, at an undefined time in the future and to a landscape impossible to predict, left us all with a few challenging questions we really couldn’t answer!
What we, as a company, then chose to focus our efforts on was how we could use this time, which we hope we will never have again, to our advantage and come out of the other side in a stronger position than when we went in. We chose to focus on the following:
How do we best protect our staff?
Our number one priority, at energystore, is health and safety, but Covid-19 has made us look at this in a whole new way. For us, to return to work, we must be able to do it safely. We spent time writing risk assessments and putting new procedures in place that will enable our staff to work safely when we return to work. PPE was also an additional aspect that we needed to change and put in place.
How do we use this time to improve?
Like all companies, our diaries are always overflowing, so when we have this time, where there is no travelling, no calls coming in and no day job to do, we wanted to look at how we could use this time to improve as a business. Our staff’s personal and professional development has always been a priority for us. During the lockdown, we offered a number of training courses to our staff, both internal and external online courses, that allowed individuals to upskill and learn something new. We were also able to run a series of internal workshops that we would have probably never got around to during normal times, but we believe will be a benefit to our business going forward.
How do we change the way we work?
Many of our staff travel across the whole of the UK to visit our different factories, for internal or external meetings and to carry out site inspections. With restrictions likely to be in place for a long time to come, this forced us to look at ways to communicate and work without the need to travel. We, like many, have turned to technology to fill this gap, and we have implemented video calling as the norm across the business, moving forward, and we are looking to implement additional technology solutions for tasks to be completed remotely and save travelling. These new practices and ways of working have improved our efficiency as a business, and these will be here to stay, even when restrictions are lifted.
How do we look out for our staff’s wellbeing?
We recognised that the lockdown situation would be tough for a lot of people. We wanted to make sure we remained engaged with staff and kept them updated on any new developments as they occurred. We created a message board for informal chat between all our teams. We wanted to give them a sense of consistency that working provides and for our team to know energystore was there to support them. Over and above this, though, we felt it was important to have fun during this time, too, and we have regular quizzes and even a charity poker night.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have started to see our customers reopen their businesses and start working again. On an almost daily basis, restrictions are being eased, and we are slowly heading out of lockdown. The biggest challenge we face in the coming weeks and months is how we transition all staff to back to work in a safe manner and at a pace the company can afford.