While facing many new challenges, I had to maintain fleet service levels and manage the welfare of staff who may have had to self-isolate for long periods.
The formation of a two-shift working pattern of staff in effect became our “bubble” approach.
A close eye on the fleet supply chain ensured the continued integrity of parts and equipment supply. We kept open lines of communication with manufacturers and their technical support provisions. In addition, we built up contingency stocks of high-use parts, such as brake components, tyres and general service parts.
While many business continuity plans are designed with short-term scenarios, with COVID-19, the plans had to be continually reviewed daily and weekly. In retrospect, operations should plan for months of disruption.
My organisation has to be very proactive in planning; there is no way we can use sub-contractors. We are reviewing and changing the way that we work, we use reflective learning and analyse what we did well and where we could improve. This is crucial as we prepared for the second wave.
A very cohesive team approach allowed for us to continue operations should a colleague become unavailable due to illness or self-isolation. I worked closely with my deputy (while socially-distanced), so we both understood what direction we were going, the decisions that were made and what we had to do to support front-line operations.
A learning point is that people naturally tend to work in a ‘silo’ mentality, just looking after their job without reflecting on the bigger picture. Sometimes you have to help, support and understand what other people do and what challenges they face in order to do your job effectively.
Michael Sweetmore, president, SOE