What leaders think
Director of HR, Legal and Company Secretary, UK Power Networks
What challenge did you tackle and overcome in your business this week?
Not so much a challenge but the need to ensure that we continue to communicate frequently and consistently about working in a way that continues to protect each other and our customers, especially the vulnerable.
Which ongoing business challenge is occupying your thoughts this week/month?
Aside from Covid… we are very conscious of the role we can play in enabling the journey to a net zero carbon economy. For example, we will ensure that the projected growth in electric vehicles and heat pumps can be accommodated on our electricity network. Coupled with the increasing use of digital technology it provides an upskilling opportunity for many colleagues.
We have had 2 national lockdowns and a range of regional tier variations over many months. In what way has your approach to these lockdowns / tier restrictions permanently influenced your own way of working and have you made or will you make any further adjustments now we are in a 3rd lockdown?
Our vision to be an employer of choice has underpinned our actions to protect our employees while maintaining essential services. In return colleagues have been remarkable. Nearly 3000 field based employees have still turned out every day, keeping the lights on. A similar number in support roles have adapted to working from home.
In the short term I don’t expect any major changes but towards the end of the year dependent upon conditions I expect that we may see a gradual return to office working, perhaps on a blended basis.
Given the reliance on technology during lockdowns, do you now envisage an acceleration in digital/workforce transformation in the short-medium term?
I must say that our own IT team has been excellent. Deploying kit to employees’ homes to allow them to work effectively and ensuring that all our systems could operate remotely was a great initial step.
The pace of growth and use of digital tools will no doubt grow. However, I do think that the value gained from face to face meetings which we have missed will also be appreciated, especially in terms of creativity and collaboration. We have to find the right balance.
What are the new working norms starting to look like for your organisation?
We are in the process of evaluating what we have learned during the last year and will take a cautious approach. The nature of our business means that we operate in teams with half our employees working in the field. For some support roles, a blended approach to home and office working may well emerge.
There is a dramatic reduction in carbon footprints during lockdowns, what is your business planning to do to help continue this going forward?
As an operator of an electricity network we are very conscious of our role as an enabler in the journey to net zero carbon economy. We are actively involved in Smart Grids, a move toward facilitating more distributed generation and of course the predicted growth in electric vehicles and heat pumps.
In terms of personal well-being, what changes have you made and will you stick to them post lockdown?
I now cycle the last leg of my commute through a much quieter London! I intend to continue to make that part of my routine once the world gets back to normal.
Who or what has inspired you this week? (They don’t need to be famous)
The NASA scientists who proved that ‘perseverance’ is more than just a business buzz word.
Given the recent announcements pertaining to a roadmap out of lockdown are you planning to book a summer holiday this year? If so where ideally would you like to go?
Certainly there is more optimism which is good for us all. For now I am waiting to see how travel rules develop and am happy walking the dogs in the local countryside.
Any words of wisdom?
In 2021 the mute button and a blurred background are likely to be your most essential business tools!