Despite the huge uncertainty that now surrounds us, manufacturing companies in Shannon are determined to keep the wheels of industry moving. The dominant sentiment that emerged from a collaborative conference call with Shannon Chamber, involving twenty Shannon CEOs from a range of sectors operating from Shannon, was that in the current situation, it is incumbent on people in leadership to demonstrate calm.
“Calm is contagious,” they unanimously stated.
“Calibrate the language you use to share information; guard against projecting a doomsday scenario; take time out from social media; concentrate on the facts and use reliable sources for information,” they urged.
Concentrating on keeping their businesses open through changing internal practices, strictly observing the recommendations of the HSE and WHO, and accepting that some amongst them, particularly those manufacturing commodity products or with a business that straddles both leisure, transport and tourism sectors are facing challenges, the general consensus was that it will be business as normal with the emphasis on protecting self, family and the wage of all their staff.
Commenting on the rational for a conference call of this nature, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen, who is maintaining the status quo at the Chamber through having staff working remotely, stated: “Some of our member companies reached out for assistance in managing the current climate. While most have business continuity plans in place, they nevertheless wanted to know what their fellow members are doing and if they could learn from each other. We were glad to set up this collaborative conference call and will continue to do so for as long as it needed. Planning, prevention, protection and pay are now the key focus of our members.”
“The types of measures companies are taking to keep their businesses operating include: restricting access to employees only; changing shift times to avoid bottlenecks; facilitating remote working as appropriate; social distancing throughout their premises; continuous handwashing; hand sanitisers and tissues in all locations; disposable cutlery and utensils in canteen, forced self-isolation for employees returning from abroad; use of on-site screens to get pertinent messages out to staff; compilation of employees eircodes and urging staff to avoid social media overload.
“All companies have plans in place should their experience an outbreak of COVID-19 on site to ensure that their businesses can continue to operate as normal.
“Cash flow is an issue for some member companies and some are being forced to rationalise but, despite this, they are determined to remain open. They are trying to expediate the issue of invoices to get cash into the business. Some are being forced to examine their supply chains to expediate necessary sub-supplies and are examining alternative suppliers to keep product moving.
“While some member companies may be forced to lay off some staff, they regard this as temporary only and are eager to suggest that the word ‘temporary’ be referenced when job losses are spoken about,” added Ms Downes.
“The main message emanating from our conference conversation is that the doors of industry need to remain open as they are the backbone of an economy. This is a message we will continue to emphasise, particularly throughout the network of chambers, via Chambers Ireland, AMCham and Ibec.
“Manufacturing companies are taking the necessary steps to safeguard their businesses. Those who operate lean processes, particularly those who are members of the Mid-West Lean Network, have said that their staff are well practiced in accepting and initiating change. Lean standard work practices provide structure and calm in an organisation.
“This shows the value of lean; normal drives calmness,” added Ms Downes.