I’m a 60-year-old chartered mechanical engineer, father and grandfather, with a background in power generation, oil and gas, defence and have travelled widely.
PDS are System Integrators, stitching technology together and turning the complex civil engineering works into a functional asset. We are known for work on the road tunnel systems on the Strategic Road Network Areas. We fulfil capital projects and provide 24/7/365 support keeping the critical assets open. Our employees are educated professionals dealing with complex issues, they work on critical national infrastructure to exacting processes and detailed specifications; and in pressured situations impacted by travel, unsocial hours and fatigue.
Where to start. Many of our staff are classed as critical workers, attending sites to keep critical infrastructure operational, and in the background keeping themselves and families safe. Our response had to be quick and responsive, e.g. throwing away the rule book on expenses as our engineers couldn’t find places open to eat; allocating single occupants to vehicles; installing internal screens in vehicles to allow multiple occupants for short journeys; subsequently and quickly removing some parts when they compromised driver vision.
We have derived extensive yet flexible office working protocols, enabling attendance by those whose tasks can only be carried out in the office, and also making room for occasional attendance by those predominantly working from home (something we have come to believe is necessary as some long term “work from home” staff have struggled with the isolation and inefficient team communications of continual working from home). Once again, we’ve had to quickly and dynamically consider our rules, e.g. we now prop our internal safety fire doors open during the day to minimise touch Covid points.
We’ve had workers isolate at home for the whole period and we have endeavoured to provide continuous support and updates. We have provided a weekly update to all staff keeping them informed.
At this point we have had 31 Covid “events” to manage, so 31 periods of isolation to adjust the logistics for. Subsequently, 3 have tested positive, thankfully none of which was transferred to other staff attending those days.
Through good fortune (or hard work?) We have had plenty of work to do, and we have been recruiting throughout, onboarding new people as quickly as practical.
Prior to lockdown, we had monthly team meetings, now we do weekly news updates. In the early days of lockdown it was crazy...emails, texts, teams messages, WhatsApp, phone calls all the time, it helped when we decided which method for what.
To push forward with my exit plans
Trusting my key staff to deliver, they have flourished.
Family games night, takeaway night and movie night, helping them through the monotony.
As a tech business, we already had the tech platform, we have now moved closer to our paperless office goal.
Throughout there have been heightened issues of wellbeing, our response has been stretched, we have managed some difficult situations and are now vastly more experienced.
To pick the people with the right attitude, not the paper skills or experience.
You did well and achieved a lot. You worried too much. It will all work out ok. Enjoy the journey.
It has helped to focus on our company values, #1 being Safety and Sustainability, which we have interpreted to apply to both our business and our staff. We have endeavoured and managed to safety sustain our delivery throughout, thus achieving continued cash flow and financial security to our staff. We have shared lots of updates and news and made sure we talk to my team most days.