With the government setting out its proposals for the return to work Cornwall Glass Manufacturing’s joint MD and former director of HR, Mark Knight, reflects on what this means for employers.
“Companies and employers need to be focussed on balancing the books and getting back to work but they also need to give time and thought to how they can and will need to support their teams as they come back,” says Mark.
With the continuing ‘fluidity’ and changing nature of the situation and government advice, he argues this includes putting in new controls to support save working but also support for those employees still on furlough:
- Risk assess the return to work
“We’ve had teams reviewing our processes to understand how close they get to each other and to establish the controls that we need to put in place. We’re adapting our layouts, marking floors and identifying requirements for PPE”, says Mark
- Cultural change
As part of its return to work programme, Cornwall Glass team members go through an awareness programme to build understanding of what is required to support the return to work, including ‘wellness’/fitness for work, distancing and hygiene, as well as requirements for PPE. “Cultural change is much more important than PPE”, says Mark.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
“There’s a lot of confusion about PPE and the situation is an evolving one”, says Mark. “At the time of writing there is no specific requirement for facemasks, although there is a suggestion that this may change. Given the changing situation, it’s very important to check ‘current’ government advice (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19).”
- Support for employees coming out of furlough
Cornwall Glass has maintained an open and transparent dialogue with employees throughout the crisis. Mark says this has been important in supporting its team as it returns for work. “It doesn’t need to be complicated, we’re simply making sure that as a leadership and management team, we’re available for our colleagues, to answer and address their concerns. It’s open conversation and discussion.”
- Support for colleagues coming back to work in later phases
“We don’t want our colleagues to think that just because the site they work at hasn’t reopened yet or they haven’t been called back in, that it’s not going to happen. So, we’re maintaining communication with those still in furlough, doing everything we can to make sure that they understand what we’re doing and why.”
Watch the interview with Mark here
Cornwall Glass Manufacturing’s return to work has been focussed so far on its Plymouth operation, returning with a skeleton staff at the end of April. This was expanded on 11th May, building capacity in-line with growing demand.
At the cutting edge of glass manufacturing technology, it’s fully geared to high volume IGU fabrication, including manufacture of super-sized units. This includes automated concertina racks and gantry crane and Intermac cutting tables, process cutting laminated jumbos in as little as 15-minutes.
The site also features a Northglass Gapless Series toughening furnace capable of handling sheets of 2,850mm x 4,200mm. Its Bystronic IGU line is meanwhile capable of handling units of up to 2.7m X 5m.
“We’ve seen the greatest demand from commercial customers. A lot of sites didn’t close down, others are being reopened, and that’s creating a higher level of demand, including for larger units,” says Mark.
“We can meet that demand most effectively through Plymouth.
“We will, however, be opening other sites and bringing more colleagues back as we move forward. It’s about timing and ensuring that we manage our return exceptionally carefully so that it is sustainable, for our customers, for us and our colleagues.”