Covid-1​9 has disrupted lives, business and organisations around the world. UK SBS CEO Richard Semple looks back at how UK SBS met the challenge and supported clients

As the pandemic hit, we were able to quickly respond to lock-down, having put business continuity plans in place in January, but it took agility and hard work to meet the full extent of the disruption head-on.

In essence, we were set up to deliver services from a largely office-based workforce, using fixed desktop IT.  Keeping services going in the first few weeks meant that we had to improvise and exploit a range of home-working solutions. Our IT teams were instrumental in very quickly implementing more robust and effective solutions for remote working, with the vast majority of employees fully equipped within ten days.  We are proud to have successfully maintained all services throughout this transition period, including our call centres.

With a focus on maintaining critical services as agreed with clients, our values came to the fore as we agilely reinforced HR and Finance teams with individuals from elsewhere in the business. Everyone rose to the challenge and targets were met.

Community and connection

It was vital to make sure that as our staff worked hard, also juggling the demands of home schooling and other caring responsibilities, we supported and prioritised their wellbeing. We worked to maintain a sense of community and connection through online support and the dedication of managers. This was particularly important for new starters who had joined the business while working entirely from home.

Fast-tracking improvements

Working from home meant that we needed to fast-track some of our planned service improvements including the removal of some remaining paper-based processes. This supported remote working and brought longer term efficiencies.

The systems and ways of working that we introduced at the start of the crisis were quickly established and we have continued to deliver major projects, supporting clients in the fight against Covid-19 and working to achieve the best outcomes for UK society and the economy.

Flexibility and dedication

Our Finance teams pulled together to make it possible for BEIS to issue Local Restriction Grant payments to support businesses. We're proud too that our Procurement specialists were recognised and thanked by clients for managing a complex and specialist construction partner tender for the British Antarctic Survey (part of UKRI NERC).

These are just a few examples of how we pulled together to meet the challenges. We have learnt some valuable lessons and will carry them forward for the future. The sum of an organisation is greater than its individual parts and our teams have demonstrated this during the crisis, pulling together. This puts us in a good position for the future as we make plans to grow and provide new services to current and future partners.​

Richard Semple, UK SBS CEO