Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification services, has recently migrated at pace from the once normal working environment to a “new normal” and has since shifted to the “next normal”.
The global challenges of 2020 have proven to test the flexibility and muscle of businesses the world over, placing social and economic strain on all aspects of society. Due to a rapid response to environmental challenges at this time, state-of-the-art innovation and various cost saving measures put in place, Bureau Veritas Southern Africa has continued to operate in a productive and efficient manner albeit in an office, laboratory or on-site working environment. A structured approach has created a sustainable business environment and the company is in the enviable position of being unscathed during the pandemic.
Despite South Africa’s imposed lockdown announced in March 2020 and a challenging market environment, the company has remained stable with little impact on resources. If anything, the need for health, safety, environmental and conformity services the company offers have experienced an upward trajectory.
Vice President for Bureau Veritas Southern Africa, Ms Sal Govender commented:
“During the hard lockdown in South Africa, as a company we were quick to migrate from remote working conditions as many of the tools and infrastructure were already in place. In under a week, the team moved from a work to home-office environment. As an innovation-driven business, we are constantly assessing our processes to ensure we are driven by the latest technology. Last year, we proactively identified opportunities to enhance our IT infrastructure, placing us in a state of readiness to react immediately to all scenarios, ensuring a seamless connectivity transition could be sustained and business would continue uninterrupted. Underpinned by technical innovation and driven by our committed employees and the needs of society, we have been able to remain focused on our clients, whilst our service continues unabated.”
Technology and the correct mindset meant employees were well equipped to master the art of working from home in a pragmatic manner, and to continue working in a similar rhythm. Human Resources provided extensive employee wellness support to ensure people remained positive and connected. Comprehensive digital remote working training and the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance were reinforced, encouraging employees to engage electronically through coffee catchup team meetings on a regular basis. Additional support has been provided through professional employee wellness institutions promoting a smooth shift in mindset.
Concurrently, the IT team also developed an innovative Employee Self-Check application which enabled employees to determine whether they were ready to return to work in terms of health and safety requirements. Using algorithms working in the background, the smart app is well poised to provide accurate and helpful results.
Detailed and continuous health and safety awareness training commenced when the first positive cases were announced in South Africa. The QHSE team urgently mobilized to ensure employees were equipped with all the requisite tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) to feel comfortable in the workplace, when visiting clients, conducting inspections on site or at home. Health & Safety regulations and measures were implemented at pace to secure workplaces as COVID-19 friendly, ensuring employees felt safe and respected social distancing etiquette and hygiene protocols. Employee risk assessments were conducted in accordance with the World Health Organization advice and these guidelines continue to drive the company’s health and safety agenda. As a further measure of protecting employees, the company secured agreements with leading laboratories for employee testing if necessary.
Once the lockdown was announced in South Africa, employees were well versed in the safety requirements. Whilst most employees transitioned to remote home working, laboratories continued to act as essential support by providing testing in the areas of food security, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals in support of these essential needs of the country.
In June, the company introduced a suite of solutions to support companies of all sizes as they restarted their business activities, a project called “Restart Your Business”, which proved instrumental in the success of their economic recovery.
A recent Glint survey conducted on Bureau Veritas Southern Africa overtly illustrated the high level of employee positivity during the pandemic.
In conclusion, Sal Govender commented:
“Our structured approach, seeking to address the wellness and stability of employees, whilst simultaneously focusing on our customers has ensured we have remained efficient and productivity has been achieved. The behavior we have displayed as an organization has undoubtedly resulted in augmented organizational citizenship. We are both optimistic and excited by the prospect of what 2021 has on its horizon and we are ready for the next normal!”