AS THE coronavirus pandemic continues to turn the world upside down, businesses have been working hard to adapt and react to changing restrictions.
Luke Smith, co-founder of Wokingham-based construction business the Green Room Building Co., says 2020 has been a major learning curve for his company.
He forged the Green Room Building Co. three years ago and now leads a team of more than 20 employees carrying out work on conservatories across the south east using glass-reinforced plastic.
His company has not been immune to the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Smith says his team had to quickly adapt their ways of working to overcome a wide range of obstacles last year.
“When lockdown first came in, we took the sensible approach to close down completely,” he explained.
“And during that period of reflection, we brought in an independent salesperson.
“It seems like a lot of people want to spend money on home improvements at the moment, given how much time we’re all spending at home, so it was perfect timing to expand the team.”
Aside from splitting the company between two offices to allow workers to adhere to social distancing, the Green Room Building Co. also had some bigger tricks up its sleeve.
It was able to overcome a major challenge caused by the coronavirus – disruption to the supply chain – by launching an entire fabrication centre.
“Here in Wokingham, separate to our showroom, we now have our own centre where we manufacture products,” Mr Smith said.
“Now, we don’t have to wait for products to arrive from elsewhere in the country because we can get everything built to size and sent out on site.
“This allows us to build in a matter of days, meaning our workers are on-site for a shorter amount of time to try and keep everyone safer.”
Under the latest lockdown restrictions, Mr Smith says he’s had to go back to the drawing board and take even more drastic measures to strike a balance between doing the job and keeping employees and clients safe.
“The coronavirus statistics are at a record high at the moment and that concerns me,” he said.
“But when it comes to construction, the rules are clear -–we cannot shut down but we need to be considerate.”
The Green Room Building Co. has brought in a couple of new rules in 2021, including giving workers their own ‘bubbles’ and ensuring minimal contact with clients.
“Until restrictions are lifted, we won’t be knocking into houses and coming inside,” Mr Smith added.
And he says running a business during the pandemic has been“a whole new world”.
“There are so many elements that we can’t control,” the company co-founder explained. “It’s been a learning curve.
“But we’ve actually grown over this year, now employing around 22 workers so we’re opening up jobs for more local people.
“In that sense, I feel there has been a real positive to this last year.”
Reflecting on the pandemic so far, Mr Smith says the biggest lesson the Green Room Building Co. has learnt is the importance of managing client expectations.
“It’s vital to explain your way of working to clients from the get go because everybody will be a lot more understanding,” he said.
“It’s never been more important to be kind, and we want to say thank you to a lot of people for bearing with us as we do everything to overcome every obstacle.”