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Keeping safe
Companies are now fully aware of the dangers of transmission and they are taking steps to make sure that staff have sanitisers, masks and are respecting personal distance. I have seen a few statements from companies about this and they are certainly doing their best to keep production going while protecting staff and customers.

I just spoke to one company, and they are not allowing any visits apart from essential ones and, where possible, employees are working from home.

The difficulty is where a service engineer needs to visit and also where enginers need to be on site to keep production running. The only precautions can be continual cleaning of surfaces likely to be touched and impressing on employees the importance of continuing all the measures at home.

Now that schools are closed, there is even more pressure from child care responsibilities. However, look on more time spent with your family as a plus!

One has to be positive in these situations and try to think about what can be done or different ways of doing it. People unable to go to work will have more time, so training over the internet or research into new methods, markets, products, documentation etc. are the sort of things that can have a long term benefit and which will be useful. Similarly, communication and support from collegues will help everyone to remain positive and make something good come from the experience. Keep safe to all our readers!
Companies are now thinking about how they will be able to get back to full capacity. I just read about Rolls Royce in Derby agreeing a policy with the unions to get people back to work. I don't know the details of the working methods, but companies will all have to go through this process. I saw that at Bournemouth airport they are having trials with automatic temperature monitoring of passengers, which could be a first line of defence. Other possibilities could be reorganization of work spaces so that employees can keep at a safe distance. Similarly there could be regulations such as wearing face masks and hand sanitisation on arrival.

There is definitely going to be much more remote working and conference calls, where it is not necessary to be in the office. 

Technical sales will be much harder where visiting to get to know and build a personal relationship with your customer is going to be difficult.

Similarly, if you need to work internationally, engineers are going to think twice about making a trip.

Maybe we will all have to use tracking apps, which have worked well in South Korea. In Europe  we tend to be much more suspicious of invasions into our privecy, but maybe we are going to have to live with it.

I don't know what the solution is, but the workplace will certainly be very different and we need to be on our guard against the next virus that comes along, which it will at some point.
Thankfully the world and especially the UK is coming out of the pandemic. There is still a long way to go particularly for developing nations. The work done in a short space of time on developing vaccines and rolling them out is incredible and shows what can be done by scientists and front line workers in an emergency.
Whatever one's political views, these are the people that have really made a difference and I hope that politicians will have the humility not to try to grab the limelight.

I hope we can learn some lessons from this experience and be prepared for the next pandemic when it comes, and that international cooperation can actually have some real results rather than just promises.

As regards manufacturing, the pandemic has made companies think more about Industry 4.0 and the route towards the smart factory. The experience of remote working and the need to communicate electronically demonstrate that it is possible and can be applied to many more aspects of a business than was generally appreciated. Additionally, knowing more about the performance of every aspect of one's business and building a closer relationship with customers and suppliers will clearly generate long term benefits.

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