It is more than two months since lock-down was introduced in the UK and whilst we are now focused on preparing for a phased return to work it looks as though our working weeks will still be a far cry from ‘normal’.
This has meant that for the last two months we have been communicating and working in more creative ways than ever before. Rather than ‘hitting the road’ every time we need a meeting, we are using the likes of Skype and Zoom to have face to face catch ups.
Our Regional Commercial Managers used to travel the length and breadth of the UK most days of every week to visit our members. Between them they have been calling almost all members most days – so although it has not been face to face there has been more communication than ever before.
Our customer service team too have never been so busy, and we have even been recruiting during COVID-19. They may not have been holding team meetings at our HQ during this period of home-working but the team’s new WhatsApp group, daily Zoom conferences and work tracking system means the team has continued to not only provide an excellent service to members, but have also been in continual touch with each other – working as a team has been pivotal to their days.
I am converted – and this surprises no one more than me – to the fact that we do not always need to be office bound to do an exceptional job. I had previously been more ‘old school’ about this – believing that senior managers at the very least needed to be in the office to lead.
Now, having seen for myself how things can be done differently, I believe that while embracing technology every day we can also reduce our emissions.
Pre coronavirus most of my role was about being proactive, driving the business forward and focusing on growth. For the last two months, during this situation of instability, I have been more focused on securing stability – protecting our staff, our Members, and the Network.
Another change has been the nature of our freight. Whereas we would have largely been delivering stock to stores we have seen a huge increase in PPE deliveries and many of our Members have new and expanding contracts with hospitals, supermarkets, and pharmaceutical companies.
Operationally we have, like all transport companies, made huge changes – our operators in the Hub wear PPE and social distance and when our Members are delivering, they park at a distance, unload, and drop.
Obviously, business is important – ensuring volume levels are maintained – but during this pandemic we were more focused on looking after our staff and Members and have been focused on maintaining rather than growing our business.
We are now ramping business up. Our volumes are rising and we are shifting our focus to future growth – but not taking our eye off the importance of maintaining stability and keeping our people healthy.
Although the government has started to lift restrictions what is unlikely to change is our newfound commitment to flexible working – a relatively new concept to the logistics sector in our country.