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If all around you are losing their heads, keep yours

Gary Escott Mar 30, 2020 10:36:00 AM
SiteZone managing supply chains

Keeping calm in business

I can’t help but think of Kipling right now. As a nation, we face the most challenging public crisis since the Second World War. Our grandparents are probably thinking, this is just a walk in the park - we survived Spanish flu and the Blitz. However, generations X, Y and Z are probably feeling very differently indeed.

Needless to say, all of us in the business community are feeling the great pressure of this global halt. However, I think that this is a time when we need to keep calm, assess, communicate and collaborate to keep our supply chains as healthy as we can in these extremely challenging conditions.  It will need some bending and flexing before any of us decide that we are just going to fold.

Getting over the hump

With the lockdown in place now, many of our customers will be compelled to suspend operations. That will affect our supply for their ‘stunted’ demand at present. But I say ‘at present’ because, while this is a critical situation, it is temporary. We need to safeguard our staff and stakeholder relationships now, and prepare for take-off again, after we’ve passed over the hump of Covid-19.

It just isn’t feasible for the economy to not resume – the UK (and the rest of the world) have to re-open for business. This is what the majority of companies are looking ahead to after this compulsory hibernation. I’m not saying that it won’t be very hard – but I think if we are completely dormant, not maintaining communication channels, planning ahead and making ourselves ready to start again, the stagnation will be overwhelming.

A role for innovation when needs are great

I am inspired by companies who have been able to modify their operations and products to directly combat the health, social and commercial effects of Covid-19. We’ve heard of the vacuum cleaner manufacturers who are now making ventilators; young engineers making respirators out of snorkel masks.  These are the innovative approaches to health and safety that have always underpinned our technology at SiteZone. We provide for a need. We listen to our clients’ safety concerns, and modify our product development to keep them safe from those risks. The only difference is, our kind of distancing is about keeping people safe from vehicles and machines, not a virus. But safety is safety, wherever there’s a risk.

Watch and learn

The other very important aspect that I’ll probably take from this experience, is thinking differently about future-proofing business. For those who don’t already have one, having a crisis plan in place for ‘acts of God’ like this may be useful. It is assumed that we will experience another pandemic of this nature in a decade or so. How do we plan for it, so that our businesses can survive it?  It’s definitely worth thinking about. It may be a good idea to have these discussions as a community as well as an individual business.

Regardless, as a business owner and family man, I would urge everyone to be as healthy and safe as possible in this situation. If your staff can work from home, let them. If there are still siteworks going on, please ensure that workers observe social distancing. Where we can, we will continue to provide workers with safe distancing from vehicle collision risk on active sites with our products.

And don’t forget the hygiene mantra that applies to absolutely everyone in every setting – wash those hands.

Finally, most important, as we begin this strange and unsettling journey, keep working together, (but at an appropriate social distance of course). If this experience has taught us anything, it’s that in the face of compulsory physical isolation, we will only overcome the Covid-19 experience, by collaborating.