A flexible approach to future working

27 July 2020

Norman Bone, UK Chairman and Managing Director of Leonardo, looks ahead to how the company is adapting its working practices as employees gradually start returning to sites across the UK.

In the 100+ days since the UK went into lockdown, we have witnessed major changes in the way the country, and Leonardo specifically, is doing things. Now, as the coronavirus pandemic slowly eases off, we are moving into the next phase and looking at what’s to come for Leonardo in the UK in terms of future working practices.

Lockdown Achievements

In considering what we’ve achieved during this time of unprecedented crisis, it would not be an exaggeration to say that we’ve been challenged like never before! And it’s why I’m proud to say that the Leonardo UK workforce has gone above and beyond expectations in meeting that challenge.

Of course we were concerned – about our health, about our families and about our future as a business. But we persevered. As the nation locked down, we didn’t give up, which means that we didn’t stop delivering.

This did not go unnoticed by our customers, with the Ministry of Defence congratulating us on keeping our people safe while continuing to support the defence needs of the nation.

Although some companies were forced to act, we did not lay off or furlough a single employee in order to keep operating throughout the pandemic. This speaks to the strong fundamentals underpinning our business.

A committed workforce on site and at home

The outstanding professionalism of each and every UK employee is what has kept Leonardo on-track throughout the emergency. Key workers attending our sites to keep essential national programmes running have shown resolve and dedication in the face of disrupted shift patterns, changed ways of working and the constraints imposed by social distancing.

For those on site, our caterers continued to provide meals, while our cleaning teams doubled their efforts to keep sites safe – critical roles which cannot be underestimated in terms of their impact and importance.

The fact that so few Leonardo employees have been taken sick with the virus is a reflection of the caution and seriousness with which all staff have responded to safety advice.

Meanwhile, those working from home – many for the first time – took the opportunity to demonstrate how this model of smart working can succeed. Teams came together like never before to maintain morale and keep delivering, adopting new opportunities to bond through Skype calls and WhatsApp groups, providing glimpses into the personal lives of our colleagues.

Recent events around the world have clearly shown that we all have plenty to do to ensure everyone feels included. I’m personally committed to making sure Leonardo in the UK continues to work hard on our wide-ranging inclusion and diversity programmes, making them accessible to all, whether people are working on site or remotely.

Often overlooked, our infrastructure providers stepped up to the challenge in a major way. Our IT network, which is critical to business continuity, held up under the enormous additional strain of mass home working.

I’m immensely grateful to all our employees for their unwavering support during the past few months, without which, we wouldn’t be in the strong position we are today.

Business impacts of COVID-19

Inevitably, Leonardo will not be immune to the effects by the pandemic. Interaction with many customers has been obstructed or suspended, and we’ve seen disruption to our research and production activities. Across the world, countries are reviewing defence budgets after spending enormous amounts to keep their economies afloat during the crisis.

However, having continued to deliver on our promises to our customers throughout the pandemic, we are in a strong position to meet these challenges. Indeed, during the COVID-19 emergency, we’ve adopted the same approach  as if we’re delivering urgent operational requirements.

This has demonstrated a level of responsibility and trust that puts us in great stead for the future.

Building a new, more networked workforce

I believe that some aspects of business have been changed for good by the crisis, and how we adapt now will determine the success of our company for years to come.

We certainly won’t be going back to working as we did before the lockdown and we’re actively engaged in wide-ranging discussions about how the business can operate in the future. This will see us building on the investments we’ve made in network infrastructure to work smarter across the business, for the long-term.

Smart working will become the new normal at Leonardo in the UK. This will need us to challenge our assumptions about the traditional workplace and make sure we all have a clear focus on the management of outcomes. But having seen how effectively everyone has adapted to smart working during the lockdown, I firmly believe we can continue to make a success of it, even after the virus recedes.

Indeed, transforming how we work is the only way by which we will continue to retain and attract the best talent to our organisation and continue to deliver on our promises to our customers. In short, smart working is the only way in which we will succeed in a new world with new rules.

And this blended approach of on-site and remote working – where the work allows – will form the core of a forward-looking, networked Leonardo workforce, poised for success.

As lockdown measures start to ease, we’re now looking at how we can allow a percentage of employees back onto sites. We must ensure that coming onto sites is a smooth, welcoming and, above all, safe process for everyone.

Stronger together

I’ve never felt more privileged to lead Leonardo in the UK, and I give my sincere thanks to everyone for the spirit they’ve shown throughout the most challenging moments of the last few months. Now, as we transition to a new way of working in a post-crisis world, I urge all our people to keep that sense of togetherness, resourcefulness and energy in the times ahead.

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