‘Get the jab’ urges boss who knows exactly what #DotheRightThing means
- Credit: Archant
James Stevens knows what #DoTheRightThing means in theory and in practice – he's built up his successful company over 20 years doing precisely that.
“Stay safe, stay working and get the jab,” he says. “That sends a clear signal to our staff and the wider community.”
Cambridge Commodities on Lancaster Way, Ely, is a major importer, distributor and manufacturer of nutritional ingredients and good health – for customers and staff – is his priority.
Coming out of lockdown has given him no reason to alter tried and tested working practices.
Swift changes put in place early meant Cambridge Commodities was able to adapt to Covid-19.
“Operationally we were set up – and I am proud of my team for that,” he says.
“We began working from home a week earlier than Government obliged us to.”
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His IT team “got it very right” with the first wave of 30 workers dispatched to work from home, progressing quickly to 80 per cent “before the government made it a legal requirement”.
James remains happy that in those early days the fact that they were able to move staff to home working so quickly “hopefully may have saved lives and also allowed us to carry on working at full capacity”.
Ninety office staff were whittled down to a “skeleton crew as we named them” says James.
The company “worked well throughout – we are after all a healthy ingredient business.
“We supply vitamins such as C and D and these have been headlining news for the past 18 months about taking more; it has been really useful for us”.
James says his company, commercially, flourished throughout the pandemic “thriving not just surviving, for as we have said for years health should be top of everyone’s agenda.
“For once health finally was on that agenda and we are very proud to be in that supply chain- our ingredients in every health brand and remain a core part tending to the health of the nation.
“We have not furloughed anyone, and we have taken on 35 extra staff during this time, going from 135 to about 170 in 18 months”.
“However, these guys, our work force at the warehouse, faced huge fear so we decided we would also be here.
“That meant one or two board members being here every day – we felt it right that if we were asking staff to be here and working under very scary conditions, we would here too.”
Issues tackled included the logistics of people coming to work – car sharing for instance not being allowed – contributed to changed working practices; for some he says there were also the “emotional connection” with friends and colleagues that were impossible.
He says: “I personally think it was important to be in the building, even if we couldn’t be with the people in the warehouse – they knew we were here.”
Commercial director Tom Stevens says going forward is the same “as when we set out on this journey in March last year. We haven’t changed any of our rules.
“We have taken the view that until more and more people are vaccinated, then those restrictions should stay in place.
“It worked well for us, and we are pleased to say there were no internal transmissions within the company”.
He is hopeful that new rules may allow travel again to see staff in the USA, Europe and South Africa.
“Not having been able to see them for 18 months has been sad and we hope we can bring back the human elements soon,” he says.
Cambridge Commodities recognises change will be inevitable.
“This building won’t go back as it was before – I don’t think it will ever be as full as it was,” he says.
A new internal layout will see no more than 45 in the office at any one time.
“We are a people-based company so we will want to see everyone at least once a week,” he says.
“That is why I am encouraging people to stay safe, stay working and get the jab.”