Moving from lockdown

Extensive business continuity plans are our bulwark against business interruptions, in a whole host of guises.

In many ways the coronavirus outbreak is the test for which our team has been planning and preparing for years.

Unlike any crisis we may have considered, though, this one has new elements which may yet bring about lasting changes in how we manage our teams, and how those people work.

As we start to come out of lockdown, we reflect on these challenges and the challenges that we, our customers and our partners have already faced and overcome in recent months.

The technical process for moving to home working was established and fundamentally straightforward across the business but managing teams remotely was not a challenge that many companies, or managers will have prepared for on the scale that was required.

All but a handful of our colleagues, at very short notice, were moved to home-working, and many for the first time.

Those that remained within our UK offices, to cover critical processes and to assist with tasks that could not be performed at home, faced a very different environment and challenge.

Stringent social-distancing and cleanliness routines, in an almost deserted office, these colleagues adjusted quickly to their new environment and communication challenges.

Communication was a critical success factor in successfully maintaining operations and service levels, and also in supporting our colleagues.

Much greater use of tools like MS Teams and Zoom maintained workplace conversations, updates and meetings, but also replicated the informal aspects of office-life, team-bonding and social exchanges.

Maintaining team relationships has been an imperative, to keep colleagues grounded and valued and to ensure that no team member felt isolated.

Themed meetings and days including silly shirt day, Christmas jumper day and virtual tea breaks kept the conversation and laughter going.

Team members on furlough were part of the conversation, to keep them involved and engaged.

Keeping them informed of events and developments on the shop floor and within the industry, helps to prepare them for their re-introduction.

As we move into the next phase, with more colleagues returning to our offices, other challenges will now need to be overcome. From managing the avalanche of holiday requests, that will doubtless follow the end of lockdown, to ensuring the safest possible workplace environment.

Metro has invested significantly in mitigating these risks, and making sure we all have a safe and inspiring place to work.

We continue to maintain a split of people working from home and working in the office and this is likely continue for a while yet.

Metroā€™s directors, managers and team members will continue to adapt and rise to the challenges as required, until we return to our new normal.
Whatever that may be.

Future resource planning is essential for all businesses.

Brexit will soon be upon on us, bringing its own challenges, as the way we do business evolves and changes, and we will evolve and change with it.