Scaling up Covid-19 Testing Centres

At the beginning of April 2020 we began work on our first Covid-19 testing centre.

Ewelina Zychowicz, Regional Operations Manager

2020 presented challenges and opportunities for our business and taking on Covid-19 Testing Centres brought both.

At the beginning of April 2020 we began work on our first testing centre. The site was built and we were contracted to recruit the teams to operate it. We recruited for numerous roles, including Duty Managers, Section Leaders, Operatives and Administrative support. 

We felt confident in our approach, despite this being a dynamic situation, because our ethos is to work closely with the customer and gain all the knowledge needed. This approach allowed us to ensure that we brought in the right people to undertake the vital tasks required to guarantee the smooth running of our first testing centre site. Working with ex-military personnel has proven to be a successful strategy. These colleagues brought many skills including the ability to work as part of a team and follow complex instructions. Given the scale of the work involved it was also crucial for us to recruit a team who could switch from teamworking to working alone when required, think quickly and act with precision; skills we find abundant in ex-military personnel.

The obvious challenge we faced was operating our recruitment model in Covid-19 conditions. It was imperative for us to follow all the guidelines and we pivoted our activity to ensure that we could adhere to social distancing and sanitisation rules. Our inductions, needed to have the least amount of contact with people as possible but we had additional risk assessments to factor in plus we were committed to ensuring the workforce was trained effectively to operate safely.

Our inductions would normally happen in groups of up to 50 people. We tailored activity to accommodate smaller groups of ten to maintain appropriate social distancing and ensure a safe operating environment. The co-ordination of inductions had to be planned with complete precision. Induction and training are key elements in a candidate journey and we place huge emphasis on these to ensure our people feel confident and knowledgeable from their first day, particularly important during a national crisis.

What was abundant from day one of operating testing centres, was the amount of people who wanted to help. We have recruited people from many backgrounds with a variety of skills and experience. Our workers include students, former Accountants and Finance Managers who now marshal traffic, provide instructions to members of the public and undertake administrative duties. They all have transferable skills which we match to the appropriate roles. We also welcomed people with retail backgrounds, bringing with them their ability to manage teams and provide excellent levels of service. A number of these people are now in full-time, contracted positions, effectively running their own teams at sites throughout the UK.

The sector is growing every day and we continue to change and adapt as the operating environment evolves. From the first large-scale regional testing centre, we now recruit and manage more than 50 sites including mobile testing units and local walk-in centres. We continue to learn from our customers and keeping abreast of changes in regulations is paramount for our management teams on the ground. Scaling up at speed in a new sector was challenging but we had complete confidence in our approach; fully understand our customer and their goals and learn everything we can from them to determine what is required from a workforce. In addition, our focus on supporting people through the early stages of recruitment resulted in them feeling informed and able to work with confidence in this new environment.