Whenever I am faced with a new challenge, I search back into the armoury of things I have learned during my career to see what can help. Sure, operating during a pandemic isn’t listed as a module of any training programme I have been on, but the KISS principle was something that sprang immediately to mind. KISS stands for ‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’ (although this was changed to Keep it Simple and Short in later years to be more PC) and works on the principle that that most systems work best if you keep them simple.
So, right from the start this underpinned our approach. We knew that we had an important job to do but that we had to ensure that our people were safe. So, we followed the Government guidelines to the letter and were honest and transparent with all of our stakeholders. We undertook the highest level of deep cleans for our sites and equipment and implemented the most rigorous safety protocols across the business. That way we were able to be simple and clear in our communications that we had done everything we could possibly do.
Of course, much of this was far from simple to implement and my team has worked tirelessly to make this happen, sacrificing vital family time to spend nights and weekends measuring and marking areas to ensure social distancing and working out new ways of working. This was against a backdrop of record levels of parcels going through our network and the challenges of people needing to self-isolate. They have and still continue to do a truly amazing job.
For me personally it was important that I wasn’t asking anyone to do anything I wasn’t prepared to do myself. The comedy series Black Adder Goes Forth in which General Melchett (Stephen Fry) rallies his troops from a French chateau 35 miles from the front line whilst shouting “We are right behind you!” struck a chord with me at the time, particularly as it was based on ‘lions led by donkeys’ view of what actually happened in World War I.
So, since day one of this pandemic I have been working onsite, side by side with my teams, showing support and solidarity. This is my choice as I could operate almost entirely from home, but it feels like the right thing to do.