We, as many other businesses across the UK faced uncertainty with the world going into Lockdown due to the COVID 19 pandemic on the 23rd March 2020. It was obvious from the beginning that we had to have a strategy in place to give us the best chance to make it through, with minimal risk to staff and the business.
We spoke with our key suppliers and customers and quickly obtained key supplier status allowing our staff and fleet to still operate. We also created an A and B team to cover any staff illnesses and with the government Furlough scheme available, we used this for a third of our workforce, whilst having a third work from home and the other third on the premises. The IT department quickly made sure those working from home had the necessary equipment and could access our systems and emails. Microsoft Teams was installed on laptops and Video Conferencing soon became the norm. Whilst those onsite practiced strict social distancing and followed a vigorous cleaning regime. In the initial strategy meeting Rebecca Hunter said “OPT need to get their Hinch on” referring to Instagram cleaning sensation Mrs Hinch.
After the initial lockdown period and once the Government advised it was safe to return to work, phasing everyone back into work came with its risks which were outlined in a risk assessment carried out by our Health and Safety officer. It was important to ensure all guidelines were followed to ensure our staff and offices were COVID secure which allowed us to re-open the doors in May to employees that had been working from home. We realised we had to change the way that employees moved about the business on a day to day basis. We incorporated a one-way system around the building, limited occupancy of rooms to a minimum, moved computers and desks 2 meters apart and stocked our cupboard full of PPE including masks and gloves. Hand sanitising stations were placed around the building and we ensure these are always readily available to staff and guests visiting (now restrictions are loosening). OPT also kept the daily cleaning regime alongside our normal cleaning company Kesgrave Cleaning Services. We have kept Dettol in business!
Our weekly team meeting has changed.
What have we learnt?
As key workers, essential to supplying Openreach we had to work as a team on skeletal staff to keep deliveries going out the door, in turn keeping money coming into the bank. Although business was quieter during lockdown, we continued supplying our customers with quality products and services.
2020 technology at its finest; we all kept in contact via a WhatsApp group. This was important to so many of us as it allowed us to still interact with our colleagues who we were used to seeing everyday but also providing support when a lot of us were feeling the effects of cabin fever. It was also a space where regular updates could be provided, and we were all kept in the loop.
With Covid restrictions loosening we became busier and aimed to be back to ‘normal’ very soon, whatever that new normal is…. and as we appear to be entering a new Phase of restrictions, we are reaching out to new customers and looking for new opportunities for our products to enable more people to work from home, more effectively and do more things via network connectivity over the very fibre optic cable we supply.