As a company our whole way of working has changed since Coronavirus started to take hold of the country. As a operations team we have all located to working from home to safe guard ourselves and ensure we have a back up pool of staff if our frontline staff sickness level got too high. The next series of blogs are going to look at how each individual job role has changed in the last few weeks. Starting with our operations director, Paul Green who's role can be found in this post below. We will then move on to look at admin, patrol guard, student guard and site guard roles in future blogs.
Who are you?
What is your job role within K9 protection?
As operations director, I'm responsible for ensuring we can provide the service we've promised to clients - that means working with my back office team to ensure that promises I've made to clients are upheld.
What's changed for you during the Coronavirus restrictions?
Everything! Before the official government advice came out, I took the decision quite early on to switch from office-based to distributed working for my operations team to reduce the risk of us passing the virus between us. Whilst this wasn't a massive jump technically (we're already configured for secure remote computer and telephony access and are essentially a paperless business), it was the first time in the history of the business we were doing it because we had to and not because it was convenient. All of our operations team hold frontline SIA licenses, so the secondary benefit to everyone working from home was that should the virus take hold within the business we effectively had four spare staff that had already isolated and could step in for emergency cover if the need arose.
We provide concierge services for various sites with high foot-fall and on-site populations so it was only natural that the responsible thing to do was to bring in health surveillance for our teams on these sites.
As the government's Coronavirus safety measures came in to force, our client's needs changed depending on how they were each handling the lockdown on a case by case basis. Some clients reduced guarding, and others increased guarding. Some clients switched from guarding to a mobile patrol service and vice-versa.
What have been the biggest challenges?
Other than obtaining PPE and sanitizer to top up our reserves, the biggest challenges for me have been matching staff to sites. With clients needing fastball cover and closing up with a sense of urgency, it's not always been easy to get staff inducted on to the premises. Where some sites reduced their guarding requirements and others increased it, it hasn't always been a simple swap for the staff due to both skillsets and locations not necessarily matching.
The scariest part of the last month or so has been the WhatsApp messages from two guards starting with "I've got a cough and fever". Fortunately, both our chaps who've been through the symptoms came out the other end, but both said it has hit them worse than anything they remember. When you see the horrors that are being reported on a daily basis the fact it was this close to home becomes very real, very fast.
Another challenge from working from home - living with two protection dogs who seemed to think the phone ringing was their cue to bark, and who's usual obedience seemed to disappear when they know I can't tell them off without the person on the line hearing.
The final challenge occurred in the crazy days at the very beginning where answering an SOS on social media to get nappies for someone who was stranded and in need almost led to a strong debate with a couple of stockpilers in Tesco.
Is there anything you have enjoyed working this way?
What safety measures have you put in place for your staff?
Our staff have been brilliant during the whole situation. Before the government issued advice on social distancing we had already implemented social distancing and health surveillance for our staff on core sites. We've issued additional PPE where it has been deemed necessary, and where some clients opted to reopen, we've had to be firm in some instances to remind the clients that our staff are not to be put in harm's way.
What have you learned about yourself as a business owner from this situation?
As a director, not a lot has changed. As a person, I've learned that I need more human interaction than I previously thought I did.
We've tested elements of our business continuity plan that we never thought we'd need, and it's good to know they worked. We've seen our staff shine through and step up to help our clients, and I think when this is all over I can sit back, take a breath, and be generally pleased with our response.
Who stands out through this period?
My whole team. Our guards, our student concierges, and my operations team. We've got through this, we've had minimal upset. Some have pulled in more hours, and some have been pulled from pillar to post as requirements are adapted.
The folks at AnswerMyPhone.biz - Ade and his team have handled our overflow calls for many years, and they've never faltered.
What are the three things you're most looking forward to when the restrictions are lifted?
There's a few things I'm looking forward to - we had a new site go live during the first week of the restrictions, and I've not had a chance to get the new team together for a coffee or beer as yet - it would be nice to actually sit down and spend a bit of time together as a team and get to know each other. Outside of work, once I've had a hair cut I think I'm going to become resident in Nandos as I catch up with various groups of friends and see how we've all been getting on.
I would say Rammstein in the Millennium Stadium, but sadly I can't help but think the live music industry is going to take longer to recover.