Industry Leader Interview – Neil Atherton, Autoglass (Covid-19 related)

News around how your company is helping or supporting others through the current pandemic?

We are absolutely prioritising the safety and well-being of our colleagues and customers but have looking at ways that we can creatively contribute to the crisis in a positive way.  We’ve spoken to Morrison’s and Ocado with regards to how we can assist them with their operations and alleviate some of the pressure on them at a time where their resources are stretched.

Many of our employees have looked at ways in which they can assist, such as by offering to pick up anything vulnerable people may need when they are on their way to see them for an appointment. 

The way our people have responded to this crisis gives us a real sense of pride.  We’ve received some really great feedback from our social channels regarding how our colleagues have been going over and above their job and doing some extraordinary things in their own communities. 

What’s the biggest challenge (Coronavirus related) facing your sector of the industry? 

Our biggest challenge currently is establishing how we continue to be able to carry out our service to key workers and ensure that we keep them moving and able to continue the great work that they are doing for the country at this timeWe are working really hard to establish how we can do this whilst continuing to keep our customers and colleagues safe. The landscape is moving quickly; while this is our biggest challenge today, it may be something else tomorrow.

How are you and your business dealing with this? 

We’ve had discussions with the Government and SMMT to be classified as an essential service as we’re providing a service to keep key worker, disability-adapted and distribution vehicles and on the road. 

In the meantime, we’re working on how to prioritise our service to key workers, those people that rely on their vehicle to get medications/basic food and distribution vehicles, including how they make themselves known to us.

What is the most important piece of leadership advice you can offer?

With our colleagues facing times of uncertainty it’s important that we instil calm, confidence and clarity in what we are doing and listen to our people.  Providing regular and consistent communication is key. We’ve been doing this for many weeks now and so far we’ve had great feedback from our people who support the decisions we have taken.

What are your top tips for home-working productivity? 

  1. It’s important to try and maintain your regular hours, set a schedule for your day and try to stick to it.  The temptation when working from home is to carry on well beyond your usual hours so you need to ensure you aren’t overworking yourself.
  2. Having to work from home is probably a new concept for many of us and it’s important to stay as social as possible.  Schedule regular calls with your team and try to contact people via phone or video calls rather than email.  It is important to not feel isolated so ensure that you are making the most of the technology available to you in order to check in with you colleagues.
  3. Set yourself a dedicated area to work so that you can step away from it when you want to take a break.  This will help you focus more when you are working and feel like you are actually taking a break when you move away.
  4. Make sure you do take breaktimes such as lunch etc.  You can feel like you are being less productive when you are at home, but you still need to ensure that you fuel yourself correctly and take breaks from sitting in front of a screen.
  5. Make use of any support that your company provides.  This is a challenging time for us all – and whether we are at work or not many employers provide support, employee advice lines etc.  Our mental health is just as important during this uncertain time.

What would be your overriding message to the industry right now?

We are in uncertain and unprecedented times at the moment with the situation changing on a daily basis.  It’s important that we keep the safety and wellbeing of colleagues and customers as our highest priority and do as much as we can to pull together and help key workers to continue their great work whilst adhering to the government guidelines.


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