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Managing in a crisis

Blog from Rory Murphy, Commercial Director, VINCI Facilities

It’s not often that a blog literally writes itself but as we have heard almost incessantly over the last few days, these are unprecedented times. The news moves so quickly that whilst I write this, we are on full lock down.

Difficult to know where to start when reflecting on how we are responding to this as a sector, as businesses and as individuals. The truth is that none of us will have managed our way through this type of crisis and every business continuity or business interruption plan has now been stress tested to destruction and new rules apply. The focus must be on what we do now to ensure the safety of our people and the general public balanced against the need to rebuild our economy and have effective and successful businesses on the other side of this crisis.

The theme at this years Workplace futures was wellbeing and business responsibility and never before has that felt more prescient than at this very moment. History will judge us all, as will all our stakeholders about what we did when this pandemic threatened to overwhelm us. The Government has done their part where they can; VAT freezes, business rate adjustments and access to huge bridging loans have undoubtedly helped stem the panic. In terms of the human factors in this crisis the steps that have been taken to protect workers that would otherwise have been laid off have been genuinely jaw dropping. Covid 19 is a health emergency, but a quick view of the stock markets clearly signifies that it is also an economic crisis and in the support that was given to employees and employers we may have avoided it also becoming a social crisis for the poorest in our communities.

Those of us that work within the FM sector and are merrily working from home, fully paid and isolated from risk must remember that the businesses we operate are founded on the cleaners, engineers and tradespeople whose work is out in the field, on the coalface and not from the comfort of their own homes. It is these frontline workers who will not only in some cases have to work through this crisis because they work in critical sectors but will also be crucial to lead our recovery.

This is a time to focus on doing the right thing for all your stakeholders, your own team, your customers, your suppliers and more than ever the communities with which we work. The world of work has never been so clearly hyperconnected, if any one had ever queried the value of a sustainable approach to business before this crisis, then it is being laid bare for all to see at this very moment.

Customers across all sectors are having to reappraise every aspect of their business and their approach to maintaining and operating their assets. Many retailers are mothballing stores while at the other end of the spectrum healthcare trusts are desperate for more capacity and wholesale adaptation. Suppliers, most of whom are SMEs, are clearly vulnerable and hugely concerned about the longevity of this crisis and the impact on their livelihoods. The teams we have in our sector that have parental or caring responsibilities or underlying health conditions now find themselves in a position where they can’t work, as the communities in which they live begin to lock down.

We will come through this Pandemic, although I suspect we may never feel the same again, but we must plan for our futures while protecting all our stakeholders in the immediate term. Responsibility, pragmatism, fairness, kindness and empathy are now the order of the day, alongside safety, reality, resilience and delivery. Working in our sector has never been so challenging and many of our teams and suppliers are at the very front line of this battle. How we act now will define us as a sector and we must be able to look back in time and say that, whatever we had to confront, we did things the right way.

We will come through this Pandemic, although I suspect we may never feel the same again, but we must plan for our futures while protecting all our stakeholders in the immediate term.

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