We took a moment to catch up with Tony Jester to seek his views on the current coronavirus crisis and its wide-reaching impact across our business.
How do you think we are responding to our clients’ needs during these challenging times Tony?
Everyone one of the team is doing an amazing job. As they say; “its circumstances like these, that brings out the best in everyone.” The vast majority of our clients manage what I would call `critical human infrastructure` which provide services of national significance such electricity, fuel and water and keeping those plants running is essential. The Altrad team, as you`d expect, have all stepped up to play their part in that, and for that I am extremely grateful.
Are there heartwarming story’s you can share?
Lots. They are happening every day. I am immensely proud of our team at Altrad, who continue to work to their best ability to support our clients. As they say “the “blitz” spirit brings out the best in everyone.” I think the media are really good at showing us when they find the worst examples of human behaviour, but lets us keep focused on the best. Only last week one of the team suggested we contact the local trauma centre and offer to do face-fit testing for all the new volunteers, so they can wear their PPE when they start work. A brilliant initiative. We should all do our bit for the services such as the NHS, after all, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for their work at this time.
How are our teams continuing to operate?
Almost every site we work on in the UK, Ireland and Norway is still operational and every client is doing their best, ensuring we protect people’s health whilst also maintaining safe operations. Last week we started identifying critical workers who are needed to support our clients ongoing operations and others have been asked to go home on the Government`s job retention scheme known as being “furloughed”.
I recognise it must place a huge burden on those identified as critical workers when they see others stay home with families and friends. I want to personally thank each and every one of them for their ongoing commitment and support. We will do everything practically possible to keep them supported and ensure their work environment is safe.
Can everyone be Furloughed and sent home?
I am afraid not. Those performing critical roles are asked to continue to attend work, where we have applied many hygiene and distancing regimes to help everyone do that safely. The Government has set very clear guidance on what the job retention scheme or ” furloughing” is for, and it is clear this wouldn’t apply to all workers. We are sorry this may cause some distress to people, but it is important we follow the Government guidance explicitly.
What do the next few weeks look like?
We have currently “furloughed” about 25% of our workforce, the remaining 75% continue to support our clients operating their crucial human infrastructure which provides essential services for the nation. We will continue to work with our clients to understand how we deal with the changing landscape and expect the number of “furloughed” workers to climb further.
We all look forward to the day that usual communications and actions from “business as usual” can return, such as weekly alerts, excellence delivered and so on, but we recognise this is an unprecedented time. We understand there are challenges, so we are looking at how we implement more innovative communication methods to keep in touch with all our employees.
Do you have any closing thoughts?
I am extremely proud of how we have reacted to the current crisis. We have maintained a strong, proactive approach throughout this period, to protect the health and wellbeing of our employees whilst also preserving job security.
I want to take this opportunity to recognise all the hard work and dedication of our teams. I see first-hand, the additional challenges our people are overcoming as result of the pandemic, so thank you for going over and above the call of duty, every day,
To a great team – thank you most sincerely.