Roy Scott, Account Director at Expleo, says the COVID-19 crisis has called for traditional values such as openness, teamworking and courage. Reliability might not sound an exciting word, but the results certainly are. Thanks to these values we manage to continue our critical work through the crisis and stay resilient.

When the UK lockdown officially began, over six weeks ago, Expleo received the green light to keep working on a number of Government projects. Our client, a major contractor in the UK, waited for our response. Could we maintain delivery as before? Would our people be prepared to work on site, in adherence with the new social distancing guidelines?

Where possible, we asked staff to work from home, including management. Due to network protocols, however, the majority of our teams received critical worker letters, which justified travel to and from work. Understandably, some people felt uncomfortable and chose to self-isolate, especially in the early days of the crisis. But we were soon back to full strength. Our people have been incredibly responsive and supportive.

Working space during pandemic

In terms of delivery, we have maintained business as usual – although aspects of the day-to-day routine have been anything but. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have a spare desk in our buildings, so we split the workforce in half on four-day rolling shifts. This has allowed us to maintain social distancing in the office, with a full desk between workers. Staff were even prepared to work the Easter weekend, as they recognised the importance of keeping the programmes on track.

Open channels

Communication has proved our best asset. Every step was developed in consultation with our people. Staff were encouraged to share any concerns. We held regular briefings to explain clearly the reality of the situation, including the bigger picture regarding continuity after the pandemic. If we could keep the wheels turning during a crisis, then we would be well-positioned on the other side.

Hygiene and social distancing were top priority for helping staff feel at ease. We introduced extra cleaning regimes, including touch cleaning of the door handles and desks. There was hand sanitiser at door entrances. People on shift A and B sat on different desks, which were already at two-metre isolation points. Only limited people are allowed in the kitchen at any time, while all meals are eaten back at the desk.

Looking forward

There’s going to be a long tail on this crisis. All companies are going to need to work differently for an extended period. Our experience offers encouragement that productivity and safety can walk hand in hand. People are talking about the new normal, but it’s just plain normal for us now.

When I look back on the last couple of months, I think pride is the word that first comes to mind. We have stayed close to our clients and shown that Expleo is an adaptable and agile partner, focused on helping them to progress business critical projects. If the work had not been deemed critical, then the last few months would have turned out very differently.

My key learning is that company morale, collaboration and open communication are critical for internal buy-in. The work we have put in to grow that sense of unity has quickly paid dividends. We were ready to work in an agile way. Reliability may not sound like an exciting word. It doesn’t generate the same headlines as innovation or ingenuity. But the results of reliability certainly can be exciting. Our “Think bold, act reliable” mantra has translated into valuable resilience during a global disruption that nobody dreamed possible at the start of the year.