Starting a new post during the COVID-19 pandemic

Nigel Paling gives an insight into his first few weeks as commercial & service director

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I joined National Windscreens with a plan based on laying perfect foundations for getting to know the team, the requirements of customers and the intricacies of a new aspect to vehicles. In respect of getting to know the team, my first major responsibility in my new role quickly became developing and leading a plan to successfully enable everyone, including our 24/7 national contact centre, to work from their respective homes. Having attained key worker status from Parliament, the team achieved this with no impact to customers or drivers. With key worker status, we could have maintained an office working environment for our different administrative and service functions, but enabling remote working for all was the right thing to do.

Within a matter of a few weeks of my joining the company, our office functions were all home based and our technicians had been supplied additional PPE and working instructions to ensure both themselves and customers were safe when providing our glass replacement services. With less traffic, demand has clearly fallen and with108 fitting centres and over 800 technicians, we have had to change our operating model whilst still keeping a commitment we made at the start of the pandemic, to continue to serve key workers on a national basis. Our supply chain was secured and our commitment to provide a 24/7, uninterrupted service was maintained.

With so much change in a short space of time, as well as the technical and logistical changes needed, our leaders have been focussed on communication, communication and communication! This is a simple enough focus in normal circumstances, but our teams and team members were used to physical interaction with colleagues. Again, in a matter of weeks, the teams have embraced digital interaction from home so much that they probably communicate more now than they used to.

I know many businesses will have had similar challenges, but to have successfully developed and delivered a new operating model for the business, with no impact on being able to successfully deliver uninterrupted services for customers, due to the efforts of a team who are new to me and me to them, is something I’m very proud of. What a team!

With regard to our relationships with customers and suppliers, whilst many will profess they had partnerships previously, we have seen true evidence of this in the last couple of months. We continue to work with both in an open, honest and supportive way and, by working smartly with all our stakeholders, we will deliver on our commitments.   

I know there will be more and different obstacles ahead which will need navigating around, but it is equally as important to remain focussed on the longer-term initiatives within the business, as well as the more immediate challenges. We are continuing to invest in the future during these times, which will bring long term benefits to all, including our team, our customers and our suppliers. I very much look forward to meeting you face to face, for now we must focus on week 8!

Picture caption: Working from home has brought about a few changes! Nigel Paling, Commercial and Service Director, National Windscreens.