Posted on May 5th, 2020

COVID-19 – Planning Our Return

Working from home has become the ‘new normal’ for the vast majority of the UK’s Engineering community. Recent events have been unprecedented and will remain etched on everyone’s consciousness for many years to come. So many changes have happened to so many lives in such an incredibly short time. It is easy to forget that it was as little ago as January this year when the virus was identified and named, and the first death due to COVID-19 was recorded in China. Due to the worldwide travel infrastructure, the virus has been brought from a small market in a previously unheard of town in China to virtually every country in the world, in what seems like, the blink of an eye.

Those who follow our weekly COVID-19 updates will know that we were fortunate to already be set up for executing projects from multiple locations, so the transition to home working for our business was not a dramatic transformation. Within hours, we had departed from our offices and 130+ people within the PM PROjEN business were connected to each other, our clients, sub-contractors and suppliers. Many of whom had also invested in remote working infrastructure allowing the vast majority of projects to proceed as normal. This is a testimony to the strength of human spirit married with the clever use of technology.

So now we have all settled into ‘working from home’, what happens next ? … a new transition. Shortly the UK government will announce it’s view on a roadmap designed to ease the lockdown measures and allow (without the risk of a uncontrollable rise in COVID-19 cases), businesses to reopen and people to regain a proportion of their personal freedom. Just as the government is planning what to do next, so are we. Over the next few weeks we will let you know the plans that we are putting in place in order to reintroduce personnel to our offices and increase the numbers of our personnel at our client’s construction sites. This subject is on the minds of many businesses at the moment and the return to work (place) does have its oven unique challenges. For those seeking help with this process we would recommend that they start by reading the Construction Leadership Councils (CLC) Site Operating Procedure (Version 3 at the time of publishing), which can be found at :-

Whilst this document is construction focused, it deals very well with the whole ‘lifecycle’ of work, namely: travel, site/office entry/exit, provision and use of facilities, personal hygiene, team working and work planning. All of the core principles can be used to support you to prepare your procedures for returning to your place of work. In addition to this, other, sector specific guidance can be found here :-

Whilst we all continue to modify our behaviours and working arrangements to comply with the latest guidance and start to contemplate the easing of certain restrictions and what they will mean to both our home and working life, it’s worthwhile taking a moment to remember some of the positives that we have observed whilst working at home, including :-

• People now take time to ask “how are you”, and “how is your family”
• ‘On line’ meetings have enhanced peoples meeting etiquette. Gaps are left for people to interject, the person speaking often stops and invites opinions/comments and screen sharing has
become a vital tool for ensuring a common understanding
• Working at home, on mass, really does work and even a forward-thinking business like ours has had its eyes opened to the reality that you can easily expand your office capacity by
combining home and office working.

Wider, (society) positive trends include :-

• A greater respect for the NHS and all the other key workers keeping us safe and fed
• An enhanced social responsibility including looking out for/running errands for neighbours
• A deeper appreciation for things we all took for granted.

We are acutely aware that this pandemic has touched so many lives in so many ways. So many have paid the ultimate sacrifice and leave people behind to cope with their loss. Others are facing financial hardship through loss of employment or the collapse of a business. Let’s hope that society holds on to some of the key lessons that we have learnt and that we all strive to make the post COVID-19 world a better place.

As a final thought…… it will take time, but scientists will solve this problem and engineers will design and build facilities that will produce the vaccines and treatments that will allow the world to recover… in the meantime, please all keep safe and well and do all you can to maintain a positive outlook.

Best regards,

All at PM PROjEN

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