Six months on from COVID, how have Rock Power Connections adapted?

It’s been an unprecedented time for businesses in 2020 with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on development plans, procedures and office spaces. Back in March, Rock Power Connections were in full swing of delivering a very busy order book; working on the distribution network alongside installing electrical connections to new developments.

The Rock Team were working on over 30 sites, spread nationally, when suddenly lockdown came into force and construction sites were halted to evaluate safe working practices.

We caught up with directors Matt Crampton (MC), Kev Sankar (KS) and Reece James (RJ) to discuss how Rock Power Connections have adapted to the current working climate and how things have changed since the start of the pandemic.

How did Rock Power Connections respond to the initial outbreak of the pandemic?

RJ: “We had to act fast to change our working practices whilst also communicating with the team and clients; the sites we were working on still wanted their power on – we had to work out how to make that happen whilst protecting against any health risks!

Thankfully we have a very robust contingency plan and excellent Health and Safety procedures so we could be very nimble.

We also embraced online communication. To ensure our employees remain safe at work we have held regular meetings via Zoom to explain the new procedures and requirements. We’ve also issued new risk assessments, along with guidance documents, new signage, floor markings, hand sanitiser and hand cleaning stations, temperature checks and increased cleaning on site.”

MC: “We are all used to working in hazardous environments (up to 132kV substations!) so these changes have merely been overlaid on top of the existing procedures designed the keep the team safe every day. For those of us who are more office-based, we have successfully proven that working from home can be very efficient.”

And how did your team react to COVID and the changes in procedures that came with it?

MC: “Luckily, the vast majority of the team have remained healthy and are always keen to get back on site as soon as possible. They embraced additional safety measures and different ways of working and it meant we could return to on-site working within days.

Since March, we have consistently tried to listen to everyone’s views and personal situations and where possible, match this to the available work at the time. Fortunately, there has been a good correlation between the two and we are looking forward to an extremely busy end to the year; none of which would have been possible without the massive loyalty and dedication of the Rock team!”

Have you had any opportunities arise amongst the challenges posed by COVID?

KS: “Our commercial activity was actually the busiest we have ever been, so we were able to get all our design, estimating and commercial teams working from home. That has resulted in a very healthy order book into 2021 and we are ahead of our commercial plans for the year even with COVID. We have also seen new business come through in the green economy especially in providing High Voltage infrastructure for electric vehicle charging and we have secured some partnership and framework agreements during this time to support this.”

So while everyone has been even busier during the pandemic, how have you balanced the needs of the business with the safety of employees?

KS: “Being classed as key workers in building new critical assets meant we needed to ensure that the employees who wanted to continue working were able to do so safely. Some of our employees have family members who are shielding; some are worried about returning to the office and prefer to stay at home; others have wanted to continue working as usual.

Maintaining a balance between dealing with individual needs whilst dealing with increasing client demand was a very tricky time for planning operational workforce.

We regularly maintained contact with all of our team personally to ensure they felt supported and kept them up to date with business progress. After a few weeks most of those who initially felt unsafe indicated a preference to start working again and we were able to balance their return to work with the increasing requirements of our customers.”

RJ: “We have new processes in place to cope with anyone who needs to self-isolate and we are still restricting the number of people allowed into our head office at any one time to ensure it is easy to social distance.

Returning to the office has been really important for some team members, giving them a chance to work with their colleagues in a safe environment, especially when the prolonged working from home has a negative effect on their mental health. For any employee suffering with their mental health during this unprecedented time, we have mental first aiders who are always happy to chat and listen to their concerns, plus we can also refer staff if required to our external health organisation for specialist help and advice.”

Overall, what have Rock Power Connections learnt about business during this period?

MC: “Fortunately at Rock, we are surrounded by a great team of people and we spend plenty of time understanding risks and opportunities. That said, we had never planned for half of our sites to shut overnight or for half the team to be put on Furlough. The trick to making the best of a bad situation like this was and is to stay agile.

For example, we consciously decided to maintain our focus on sales activity throughout the lockdown period and respond to our clients quicker than maybe some competitors did. This is really paying off now.”

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