Preparing to leave lockdown: In conversation with Alcumus CEO, Alyn Franklin
Alyn Franklin Chief Executive Officer, of software-led risk management solutions provider Alcumus, discusses the strategies that need to be put into place to mitigate the risk of employees becoming ill, how to carry out proper risk assessments, how to start repairing the supply chain and how to plan for business continuity.
How has Alcumus managed working through the COVID-19 lockdown as a business?
“There’s no doubt overall economic, social and mental impacts have been far sharper than expected, isolation and concerns over job security cannot be underestimated. To keep our business going our teams are all working remotely and safely from home. This has meant we have needed to become more flexible in our processes and creative with our technology, as have all businesses, but it is working well.
“To help keep morale up, we have been holding video calls with our teams, monitoring wellbeing, and supporting people closely where needed. It’s crucial to remain in contact with your staff during this time and we’re very fortunate to have HR experts on hand such as our PSM consultants to help with new working from home, wellbeing and security issues. This has helped our business and employees stay healthy.”
What are you doing to support businesses?
“We are providing the clear guidance needed for all aspects of managing coronavirus in line with the biohazard governance, including the procurement, use and disposal of the correct PPE and RPE. Since the beginning of this crisis our key focuses have been advising clients on:
- Supporting employees outside of the workplace;
- Creating a safe physical working environment for eligible employees to be able to return to;
- Establishing a secure supply chain;
- Increasing exposure to new clients;
- Demonstrating their resilience for the future.
“We work with around 40,000 clients all with unique challenges, so we have had to adapt and offer creative solutions across our business, to best do this, we have been utilising our technology to ensure operations are continuous. For example, our certifications solutions team at ISOQAR has carried out over 550 remote audits since lockdown started. This has allowed businesses to continue to operate without compromising employee safety, ultimately helping them to survive and thrive.
“Our software platforms are helping to monitor staff safety in all working situations, helping to keep an overview of safety and wellbeing. We employ chemists and toxicologists in our COSHH management team at Sypol who have helped create a series of downloadable risk assessments for frontline and key workers, helping to keep people safe. We also utilised our SafeContractor database to connect suppliers and contractors with organisations that need them most, such as the NHS.”
What is it your clients have said they want most from you during this time?
“With the easing of lockdown guidelines, this will help the economy to re-start, and will focus on guiding our clients back to a position where they can re-open safely and profitably.
“We have seen some critical construction sites remaining in operation, and we see many more of those to come back on stream in the next few weeks. I also expect those manufacturing plants that have been closed during the lockdown period to fire up and begin operations again.
“It is not just a question of pressing the button and expecting everything to return to normal. Any working site, factory or office, needs to be ready to welcome its employees back and be in a position to provide the same service to its customers as it did before. So, the supply chains that support them must also be revitalised. We’re spending a lot of time supporting our clients with advice in re-starting their supply chains and preparing their business for their employees to return.”
What is your current advice on the process of getting back to work?
“The most important asset for any business is their employee’s wellbeing, and readiness to return to work should be top of the priorities list. Employees need to feel confident about returning to work and the procedures their employer has put in place to enable them to do so safely.
“We are rephasising the need to transform for a new culture. This includes utilising digital technology further and ensuring businesses can deliver robust quality management and supply chains.
“We have focused strongly on advising standards and the importance of risk assessments for businesses. Now is the time to ensure practices are robust and employees are safe. COVID-19 represents new challenges, and the HSE will continue to monitor and enforce increased action than it has before, so it is as important as ever to focus on best practice and compliance.
“To help meet the HSE’s clear focus on COVID-19, we have offered a range of solutions, including free risk assessments and guidance notes to help them protect their employees.”
What is critical in the post lockdown world?
“Risk management is key. Employee safety is now the number one goal for businesses small and large and the best way to plan for that is by carrying out thorough risk assessments, with detailed, actionable follow up activities. Staff will likely be anxious to return to work and it’s the responsibility of the employer to ensure that it is safe to do so.
“It is also critical to be ready to act quickly if the virus spikes again, managing supply chains closely. Additionally, future planning is important to maintain business continuity to avoid a second hit to businesses. Currently we are providing new and flexible solutions to aid businesses through the crisis and many of these are free.”
Business continuity is considered to be an holistic management process that identifies potential impacts on a business and builds a framework for resilience into processes and procedures. The aim is to have effective safeguards and responses to protect the business in the short, medium and long term.
Understanding the issues that might affect the ability to deliver goods and services to customers and clients on an ongoing basis is vital to effectively plan for and mitigate against potential interruption or worse.
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