Covid-19 – How do we bounce back?
Covid-19 has altered the way we live, work, consume and function in our daily lives. During this most extraordinary period we have seen so many businesses close; unable to meet the sudden change in needs of their customers, unable to deliver due to supply chain problems or cash flow issues due to diminished sales revenues.
The pandemic has challenged how we work and do business like never before. For example, drastic changes had to be implemented by many businesses to enable operational continuity whilst employees moved to working from home. We anticipate many of these changes, particularly those which brought increased efficiency and/or reduced costs, will become permanent if they have not become so already.
Here are examples of change across some of the sectors we work with, ideas which may be transferable to your organisation:
- Devise new systems including a move to online and cloud based systems.
- Use of interim professionals, these are people with specific skills and experience, and are particularly useful for SMEs to access the latest and most relevant knowledge and advice. A proven way to enable change management whilst minimising disruption to normal business.
- Develop more agile supply chains and minimise risk by reducing labour intensive supply chains and bringing flexibility into supply chains.
- Review and update processes to incorporate new systems, supply chains and new ways of working. Be patient as new processes don’t always work well straight off.
- Consider building more inventory into systems to reduce vulnerability to disruption.
- Consider local sourcing to build in flexibility and resilience.
- Invest in your online presence to boost marketing and sales.
In an interesting article in Logistics Manager (May 2021) Liza Helps explored how companies altered their businesses during the height of the pandemic and have adapted to the new landscape as we recover from lockdown. For leading logistics company DHL, the past year has felt like a decade.
Pre-lockdown we saw changes in customer buying patterns. In fact, we were busier in the first week of March in our food business - be that manufacturing or retailing - than we had been over Christmas and it just got busier. We had 39 Christmas weeks last year! But we also had parts of the business that completely died away.
“It was obvious from the start that the logistics sector keeps our cities, societies and economies moving – so stopping during a lockdown was not an option,” noted Alan Holland, Managing Director, Greater London, SEGRO and he explained that over the last year or so –
What we’re seeing is that it’s actually accelerated a lot of the trends that were already appearing, the digitization of our world - our lives, working from home - everyone is embracing digital. It was already there but it’s just been put on steroids
Whilst many businesses within the rural sector; forestry and estate management were already better geared up for ‘lone working’ they were not unaffected by the impacts of Covid-19.The Forest Industry Safety Accord (FISA) kept their members up to date with guidelines and good practice. These include:
- Introducing fixed partnering systems if travel together is essential
- Reduction in job rotation and equipment rotation
- Separating sites into working zones to ensure distancing between groups
- Meetings being held outdoors where possible.
- Hard-copy paper work and signatures no longer to be passed between people but dealt with electronically.
As the number of lone workers across all sectors has rapidly increased to protect businesses and preserve business continuity, the management of lone workers will be an ongoing feature of the ‘new normal’ as many businesses have reduced their office sizes in order to facilitate a blended approach to home v office working.
Given the HSE’s latest annual statistics report indicating signs of increased rates of work- related stress, depression and anxiety in recent years, there is a real focus on stress management by maintaining contact with lone workers and having support in place from managers and colleagues.
It is imperative that employers review their policies and risk assessments and communicate these timeously to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees
Here at Trackplot, providing a seamless service delivery is important to us. At the start of lockdown we assessed how we could continue to deliver this without any in-person customer contact. We introduced online customer training in April / May 2020 to support our customers during the first lockdown. Some of our customers, providing essential services that needed to stay operational, expanded their lone worker workforce and needed to access support and training. This interim measure proved its’ worth – it’s more flexible, cheaper to provide, quicker to set up – and has already become a permanent feature. We added to the service and since April 2021 we have been providing public online monthly user training sessions available to all customers to book onto as needed.In 2020 we also developed training videos and materials to support the live online training and we continue to build this resource library for customers.
During this uncertain time we realised the importance of regular and appropriate customer communications. We uplifted our customer communications and developed a new website to ensure that we have relevant and timely information available.