Elzbieta Boryca, Service Delivery Director
A year ago, warehousing was a growing but modest percentage of our operation. Our focus on successful account management was one of the reasons for the steady growth in our warehousing section but the Covid-19 pandemic soon increased things in a way none of us expected.
Covid-19 had an impact on everything across the UK, particularly the way goods were being bought and consumed. From the closure of many high street shops, to the rise in consumer behaviours online; it all had an impact on the warehousing and logistics sector.
The increase in our warehousing section meant an increase in the recruitment of people. We knew we could scale up our recruitment activity but we faced new challenges to overcome such as social distancing and the need to supply PPE at every stage of the candidate journey.
We were constantly asked questions that we couldn’t always answer but we made sure we found the correct information. During the early stages of the pandemic, we’d encourage our people to watch the daily government briefings and reminded them about reputable sources of information. We remain proactive in sharing local news and information with our people.
When some recycling centres closed at the beginning of the pandemic, some of our workers were without work but their skills and experience were completely relatable and transferable to warehousing. We were able to offer some security during a difficult time.
We’ve always taken the welfare of our people seriously, it’s part of our value system. Overnight, wellbeing became a much more prominent topic and our check-in calls were no longer about business, they were about individual people who were frightened and unsure of what was going on.
Our customers were also facing uncertainty and we ensured our account management continued at a high standard, taking all the considerations of Covid-19 on board. We needed to keep in-person contact to a minimum and overnight we limited this to essential visits only. We changed our approach from in-person account management and ensured we maintained contact and service in other ways, utilising online platforms and phone calls instead to collaborate and engage with our customers and ensure the smooth running of our onsite operations.
We’ve always had a remote and dispersed operation so pivoting our working practices to accommodate Covid-19 conditions was relatively seamless. One of the main challenges with an operation across multiple geographies was keeping up to date and informed about all the restrictions. Many of our sites across England were in different tiers so the guidance and information to each of our workers and our customers varied from place to place. Our Account Managers ensured their knowledge was first class and they were on hand to provide guidance to everyone who needed it. The need to be responsive and quick to adapt to the constantly changing environment is key for us. Honesty and transparency and working with our warehousing customers to solve problems are critical elements we’ve kept at the forefront of our approach through the pandemic.