Interview with Nick Broughton: Managing the COVID-19 Crisis

Over the last three months, millions of workers across the world have been working remotely to help slow down the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. As governments start to remove the strict lockdowns and people slowly return to their workplaces, we wonder what is next for employers?

In this post, we speak to Nick Broughton, Capital’s Chief Operating Officer. We asked his views on how Capital GES has coped during the COVID-19 crisis, the challenges he has faced, and what plans he has in place when everyone returns to the office.

How have you and your work been affected by this crisis?

Like every other business, the COVID-19 crisis has affected our normal way of life and work. However, the company does have experience working remotely and managing remote staff, so the adjustment to working from home wasn’t as extreme for us as for others.

We employ both office-based and remote staff all over the world. Once we realised that COVID-19 was becoming serious, we started focusing on our business continuity plan. We deployed our office-based employees in Switzerland, Brazil, and Ireland to work from home.

How did you activate a business continuity plan?

As we had a remote readiness plan in place, it was just a question of how quickly we could scale up the process. Having the right infrastructure and online capabilities is crucial to our business. With our fantastic IT team, we were able to deploy our staff remotely in a matter of days.

We ensured that every employee left the office with portable computers equipped with the relevant programmes they needed to do their job correctly. All employees who were new to remote work were given basic training to help them adjust to working from home.

Consistent clear communication is important at all times but even more so in uncertain times. Once we communicated the remote readiness plan to our staff, we then communicated to our existing clients that it was business as usual.

How did you maintain continuity once the crisis became more serious?

Having a strong, motivated management team in place is important during uncertain times. As part of our business continuity plan, we made sure all our team managers were trained in remote leadership. Managing remotely is very different from being in the office, so it was important for our managers to communicate regularly with their team in order to maintain the same level of service for our clients. This pandemic is an unprecedented situation, and ensuring that our clients feel supported and cared for at this time is key for our business.

What challenges have you encountered and what action have you already taken to cope during the crisis?

Before the COVID-19 crisis, a number of our staff already worked remotely so luckily, we had some systems in place. Ensuring our technology systems worked effectively was one of our main concerns and our IT department has been fantastic with keeping everything working smoothly. Once we knew that the technology was fine, our team leaders were able to manage the day to day responsibilities of their team.

What have you learned while working during the crisis?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a human tragedy that also affects the global economy. I have learned the importance of being able to react suddenly to a temporary situation. Through remote readiness, we were able to keep working and providing the best service for our clients.

We never know what the future holds so it’s important as a company to have a business continuity plan for any eventuality to helps us operate globally. I think once businesses get back to their offices, many will be continuing to draw up continuity plans for uncertain times, etc.

Internally, our employees have learned how to work efficiently from their home offices. They have experienced the reality of working from home and have a greater understanding and appreciation for their remote working colleagues. As a company, everyone has adapted well to a remote working scenario. We have found new ways to communicate, thrive, and even enjoy working which can only make us stronger and confident once this crisis is over.

Now we are in a “new normal” how will you prepare for the staff to head back to the offices?

We know that the easing of restrictions is coming soon, and each country will enter a different phase of this. We will watch each country carefully and follow the recommended guidelines. The safety of all our employees is paramount, so when we are able to move back to our offices, we will. Until then we will continue working remotely.

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