Syed Kashif Akhtar,  group managing director at Havelock One Interiors, on how the company is steering through these times of uncertainty

Any unforeseen global challenge tests an organisation’s resilience and readiness. The current COVID-19 outbreak is no different. At Havelock One Interiors, we immediately knew that only a thorough risk assessment and the right infrastructure in place would enable us to mitigate the threat to our people and our business.

Our continued success over recent years has enabled us to tackle this crisis. Above all, we have a strong corporate culture and have always believed in transparent communication. Moreover, we have started to digitise our processes and operations a while ago, which pays off now, as we need to be more flexible and agile.

Syed Kashif Akhtar, group managing director

In terms of our action plan, we formed a COVID-19 task force, a centralised response team, consisting of crucial internal contributors like IT, HR, admin, HSE, finance, internal auditing as well as myself and the group operations director. Together, we looked at all stakeholders, as well as macro and micro economic factors to consider, right now and in the future.

At the heart of everything we have been doing so far is protecting people, our staff, and business associates. We introduced immediate health and safety campaigns and measures, across our sites, offices and factory. Whether it be testing for temperatures, distributing additional PPE, increased sanitisation at all facilities or allowing for remote work, we do what we can to keep our teams and affiliates safe.

Then, we thought about our external stakeholders: How do we ensure business continuity across all our markets? We looked at our supply chain, suppliers and sub-contractors, and at our clients. How can we support these parties or come up with alternative sourcing strategies to minimise the impact on our current projects and deliverables?

Subsequently, we will need to adjust our budgets and financial outlook while keeping tight control on our immediate business commitments. Our employees have been very supportive of our COVID-19 business continuity strategy, and we provide continuous guidance and safety measures to help them protect themselves, their co-workers and families. I have to say, we have introduced rather radical changes to our work set-up, which as a result, leave Havelock One well prepared for the short- and long-term future of our business.