What leaders think
UK CEO, EDF
What challenge did you tackle and overcome in your business this week?
The Covid-19 variant is unfortunately more easily transmissible and infection rates across the country remain high. I had to decide to pause non-emergency work in our customers’ homes, including the rollout of smart meters, whilst we review and reinforce the countermeasures to protect the health of our customers and employees.
Which ongoing business challenge is occupying your thoughts this week/month?
Ensuring that we support our employees effectively through every stage of this pandemic and beyond. We just received the results of our annual employee engagement survey which showed a fantastic response from our teams, who are more highly committed than ever to help EDF achieve its purpose. As we come out of the pandemic, we must retain those things that our employees say they have appreciated – greater flexibility, digitalisation and faster decision making.
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 will you make any adjustments now we are in a 3rd lockdown?
We are making changes to our working from home arrangements to make them more sustainable in the long run (through provision of kit, support with tools and processes etc). For those who cannot work from home, we are rolling out mass-testing, to ensure we detect asymptomatic Covid and so protect our sites and the communities around them.
Given the reliance on technology during lockdowns, do you now envisage an acceleration in digital/workforce transformation in the short-medium term?
Without any shadow of doubt! Covid has taken a terrible toll on our society and I think we have a duty therefore to seek any positives we can to mitigate a little of the damage. We know our staff have appreciated the greater flexibility that technology can bring. At the same time however we will strive to maintain facilities for colleagues to come together – I don’t believe we will see the death of the workplace, but more of a change in how we work.
What are the new working norms starting to look like for your organisation?
It’s too early to tell how to norm the new normal. We are observing curious phenomena though. For example staff sickness is lower than usual (except Covid). It looks as if the behavioural changes are reducing the impact of other seasonal diseases. It will be important to ensure that people working from home are not working even when sick though.
There is a dramatic reduction in carbon footprints during lockdowns, what is your business planning to do to help continue this going forward?
As a company our purpose is to Help Britain Achieve Net Zero. So we are building new wind farms, solar plants and nuclear plants. Alongside that, we are rolling our charging stations for electrical vehicles and gradually replacing our fleet of vehicles with electric vans and cars. We are helping our customers reduce their carbon footprints through energy efficiency measures and affordable, hassle-free ways to switch to electric vehicles and electric heat. This is only the beginning, there is so much to do in front of us!
In terms of personal well-being, what changes have you made and will you stick to them post lockdown?
We have introduced new resources available on line to support, in particular, mental health and wellbeing. We will certainly continue to develop this aspect of our business.
Who or what has inspired you this week? (They don’t need to be famous)
I am inspired by the professionalism and dedication of frontline workers of our healthcare system. They truly are going the extra mile to be at the service of the country and their citizens. They are a powerful model for all those in service industries, such as energy, where our employees have worked throughout to keep the lights on and serve our customers.
How did you spend Christmas?
In London at home in lockdown. It’s my first British Christmas as I normally go back to Italy. I enjoyed a visit to Kew Gardens.
Any words of wisdom?
I wish I had!